Are Refinishing Wood Products Unhealthy?

Are refinishing wood products unhealthy? This article describes the different refinishing products that are harmful to a person's health. Refinishing wood is a process that helps to bring back the luster...

Refinishing wood is a process that helps to bring back the luster and shine to any wood furniture piece. A process that can be done by almost anybody, it is very tedious and demands that all instructions are carefully read and followed to ensure the best possible product. Another big issue in refinishing wood, which many people forget about, is safety.


Dean Camenares is the owner of East End Wood Strippers in Holbrook, NY, a family-owned business since 1959. He is an expert woodwork restoration specialist who has more than 20 years experience. Camenares said that if the proper guidelines aren't followed, refinishing wood can be a very dangerous and hazardous situation.




"If you use paint removing chemicals, varnish, or anything strong enough to take off paint from wood, it has to be treated with care," he said. "There are ingredients in there that in great quantities can be toxic. So you have to protect yourself; wear gloves, have ventilation, wear a mask if you need it and wear goggles."

"If you are dealing with lye, in some cases it could burn your skin," he added. "Also, so can some removers so be careful. One of the chemicals used, Shellac, is definitely not toxic. It is produced by a bug and it is actually edible."

Other safety tips when refinishing wood include being prepared. Always use the proper tool for the job that you are doing. When working with flammable chemicals, it should be common knowledge not to smoke around them. Also, be sure to extinguish any possible flames that may ignite in the area.


For safety precautions with your skin, be sure to wear rubber or neophrene gloves and long sleeves when stripping wood. When sanding indoors, seal all heating and air-conditions ducts as well as electrical outlets. Wood dust can ignite, so ventilation is a must.

Consumers should also remember to keep all chemical strippers and materials out of reach of children and animals. Be sure to store all the tools used during the refinishing process in a safe place away from others. Also, be sure to properly dispose of any and all oily or stained rags that you may use. When stripping wood the proper respirator with a cartridge designed to filter lead should be worn. A dust mask is inadequate for these types of jobs.

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