Hardwood floors are a great addition to any home. Not only do they look and feel super luxurious, but they are also sure to increase the resale value of any home. They are also high maintenance floors, and finishing them properly goes a long way in making them more durable.

Polyurethane varnish is one of the most beautiful and durable finishing products for wood flooring. However, polyurethane finishing contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and isocyanates. These are responsible not only for the durable finish but also for the toxic fumes that can be detrimental to your health.

Left to itself, polyurethane can take weeks off-gassing after it has been applied. Oil-based polyurethane takes longer to dry than water-based polyurethane, and therefore, takes longer to off-gas as well. If not dealt with, polyurethane fumes can lead to coughing, headaches, and shortness of breath. 

Isocyanates are a known carcinogen, so the longer you take to remove the smell of polyurethane from your home, the more harmful it will be. However, there are some simple home remedies that can help you get rid of polyurethane odor from your home easily.

The remedies

Crack open a window

How to get rid of polyurethane smell from floors

Getting rid of any smell starts with good ventilation. Open windows promote the free flow of fresh air throughout the area that has been worked on. The longer there is cross ventilation, the less bothersome the smell of polyurethane fumes will be.

The use of fans

The use of ceiling fans or even simply placing box fans in the window can help get the air flowing. When the air circulation improves, it will help banish the odor of polyurethane faster.

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Rent or buy an air purifier

air purifier floor

Air purifiers remove impurities from the air and improve indoor air quality. In fact, just renting one large air purifier can remove the stench of polyurethane from your entire home.

Look to rent or buy a dual HEPA H-13 filtration model. Then follow the installation instructions mentioned by the manufacturer in the user’s model to effectively remove the presence of polyurethane from the air in your home.

Keep the rooms warm

The warmer a room that has polyurethane is, the faster the polyurethane coating will dry up. And the faster the coating dries up, the sooner you can use the room. 

You will need to shut off all ventilation to the room and then turn up the heat until the varnish has completely dried up.  However, this will make the entire house unbearable to live in until all the fumes have been absorbed.

So you will need to vacate the house until the process is complete. Then, use absorptive materials to remove the odor. 

Use activated charcoal

Once you have the polyurethane dry, activated charcoal is one of the best natural products to remove odors and impurities from the air.

All you need to do is put activated charcoal on paper plates and let these plates rest on the varnished surface for around 24 hours. You will see a defined decrease in the odor of polyurethane in the room.

You can repeat the process if the smell is not completely gone.

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Onion and lemon slices

using lemons for getting rid of smell

Another natural homemade remedy that is effective in removing the smell of polyurethane from your home is to put slices of onion or lemons into bowls of water and space the bowls across the new wood floor. 

This method has been used for ages to remove odors of all kinds from homes.

How long does the smell of polyurethane last?

While the actual duration that the smell of polyurethane lasts depends on what type of polyurethane varnish was used and how many coats were applied, it is safe to say the odor lingers for a long time. 

It is advisable to not live in the house for at least 10 to 12 days after the varnish has been applied. If not longer, in order to avoid allergic reactions to the smell.

It is obvious your time is important. Use this friendly abstract if you are in a hurry.

How to get rid of polyurethane smell

How to get rid of polyurethane smell from floors easily was last modified: November 9th, 2022 by Narayan Shrouthy
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I hate that odor, thanks for the advices, nice infographic too