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I had my floors refinished. They won’t tell me what they used. I picked out Bona stain and asked for water base polyurethane. They applied the stain at 4 PM. The next morning they supposedly applied water-based polyurethane. I opened the front door at 8am and there was a strong acetone smell and the floor was slightly wet. At 4 PM later on that day I supervised and they applied Bona mega polyurethane. Two months later I’m still having major anaphylaxis attacks and I can’t be in the house for two minutes. The smell is strong still but people cannot pinpoint what it smells like. Do you think they may have used shellac that morning? I’m thinking of refinishing again and it’s super expensive, but I never had this experience before. I also have tar paper under red oak floor. They purchased Masterline polyurethane that morning but I’m not sure if they put it on my floor that morning and they won’t tell me :( I have had windows open 40 days and even air scrubber with carbon filters. Thanks

  • Hi, welcome to SE. Sorry for your troubles but I'm voting to close because you're really seeking advice and input, and as a formal Q&A site we have to have a concrete Q that can be answered and doesn't require a dialogue. That said I can tell you a few things, if you ask this on a normal forum as well this might be echoed there — shellac is very unlikely these days, and would not account for an acetone smell anyway (it's not the solvent for shellac). Even if they'd used something containing acetone it would have long long ago have flashed off as it's an extremely fast-evaporating solvent. – Graphus Sep 4 at 7:00
  • You're off track in your thinking if you're worried about shellac. It's probably the safest option of all the common film finishes. It has a solvent (alcohol) that doesn't smell and evaporates very quickly. The finish cures in minutes, and the end product is totally non-toxic. In fact, it is often used to coat pills and is used in makeup and hairspray. – SaSSafraS1232 Sep 4 at 16:09
  • The finishes that are most known for their long cure times and off-gassing odors are penetrating oil finishes like boiled linseed oil or tung oil. – SaSSafraS1232 Sep 4 at 16:22
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    I would be more worried about the contractors not following the directions on the products they did use than what they used. All kinds of problems can come up when you're using an expired product, not properly mixing the product, storing it at too high or too low a temperature, applying it at too high or too low a temperature or humidity, not allowing proper cure time for previous coats, etc. – SaSSafraS1232 Sep 4 at 16:23
  • Thank you guys. I’m going to remove finish and stain on Sunday and not break my head anymore. Hopefully, chemical smell disappears after that 🙁. – Elix Nazario Sep 4 at 18:47

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