4 Most Eco-Friendly Wood Floor Finishes

See the 4 best environmentally friendly and non-toxic wood finishes for your flooring

5 Most Eco-Friendly Wood Floor Finishes

Hardwood flooring is very popular as it enhances the look of your house, is easy to maintain and clean, is strong and durable and can add value to your home. It can also give you better air quality as it doesn’t trap dust the same way carpets do.

However, many floor finishes on the market contain chemicals that can be harmful to humans and the environment, which is commonly known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). However, there are now more eco-friendly alternatives that can enhance the look of your floor without bringing in nasties to your home.

So what is the most eco-friendly finishes for wooden floors?

The most environmentally friendly wood floor finishes include natural oils such as linseed and tung oil, beeswax and carnauba wax, shellac and homemade products that include a mixture of olive oil, jojoba oil, waxes and lemon juice.

Read on for a more in-depth look at why products with high VOCs are not suitable for the home and the best non-toxic and natural wood floor finishes.


  1. Polyurethane & Volatile Organic Componds (VOC)
  2. Natural wood oil finishes
  3. Wax finishes
  4. Shellac finishes
  5. Home made finishes

Polyurethane & Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

A lot of paints, strippers and finishes on the market today contain an array of synthetic materials to help enhance the durability of the finish and to speed up drying times.

The most common type of wood floor finish is water-based and oil Polyurethane, which is a synthetic liquid resin made from raw materials derived from crude oil. It is particularly durable and cheaper than most other wood finish alternatives.

However, oil-based polyurethane, in particular, contains high levels of Volatile Organic Compound (known as VOC), which according to the Environmental protection agency (EPA) can cause liver and kidney damage and a host of health-related issues.

This is why more people are looking for more natural, non-toxic and environmentally friendly alternatives for us in their homes.

Products that are advertised as natural, organic and low or non-VOCs is a good choice for wood finishes around the home. Suppliers such as Lakeland Paints for example offer a wide range of eco-friendly paints and finishes and strippers.

Eco-Friendly Wood Floor Finishes

Some of the best eco-friendly wood floor finishes all have the same thing in common in that they are derived from natural sources such as plants, vegetables and bees, are non or low VOC and are safe for use in the home.

Natural wood oil finishes

Linseed oil

Linseed oil is a natural and environmentally friendly wood floor finish, made from the ripened seeds of the flax plants. Its cold-pressed into oil which results in fewer toxins making this a good product for applying to a range of furniture and floors.

Linseed oil usually comes in two forms, raw and boiled linseed oil. Raw linseed is unprocessed and doesn’t tend to have any added oils driers or thinners, which does mean it takes longer to dry, however.

Boiled linseed on the other hand is boiled with a bit of natural added drying agent such as cobalt or manganese to speed up the drying time.

Tung Oil

Tung oil, also known as “China wood oil” is made by a process of pressing the seed of the Tung tree to extract the oil. In its natural and unprocessed state, it’s very eco-friendly and non-toxic and has a wide range of uses that include applying to furniture boat decks and wood flooring.

Tung oil provides a relatively hard and waterproof surface, which is impervious to things like dust, alcohol and citrus acids such as orange and lemon juice, making it one of the best oil for wood floors.

However, manufacturers do sometimes add toxic chemicals such as varnishes, solvents and dryers so it’s worth paying closer inspection if you want a totally eco-friendly and non-toxic product.

Wax finishes

Natural waxes are another eco-friendly and low VOC product for floor finishes in the home as it is hardwearing and offers protection for things like shoe scuffs and enhance the natural grain of the wood.

Natural and organic waxes are often made from a combination of beeswax, Carnuba wax (derived from a tree native to Brazil known as the “Tree of life”) vegetable waxes and plant waxes.

Auro makes a natural wood floor wax made from a combination of beeswax, Carnauba wax, tung oil, jojoba oil and a few other natural ingredients. They also provide a useful raw material guide on the full list of ingredients in their products.

It’s worth noting, that waxes are hard to strip back as it gets deep within the wood, which may be an issue if you want to test different finishes.

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Shellac finishes

Shellac is a non-toxic and natural thermoplastic (becomes soft on heating and hard on cooling) made from the secretion of the “Lac” insect. For commercial use, it is diluted with alcohol to use as a sealer and finish on wood flooring

It’s non-toxic which means it’s safe to use in the home can be easily applied and repaired and has high UV resistance which means it protects the flooring from discolouring over time.

However, shellac is not water-resistant which means it’s not suitable for rooms that are prone to a lot of water spillages such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Homemade finishes

If you want to know exactly what goes into your floor finish and want a completely non-toxic, natural and environmentally friendly wood floor finish then you can go down the DIY route and make your own.

Homemade floor wax, polish and sealant can be made from a combination of lavender and olive oil, pure beeswax and Caruba wax and lemon oil.

Here is an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide I came across which walks you through the process of making floor wax at home.

However, as won’t be commercially researched and tested products it’s a good idea to apply a couple of test coats to the same type of wood as your flooring to see if you are happy with the final result.