Monday, July 16, 2007

Finishing Touches

I realize that I’ve been away from my “green house journal” for a while. I’ll blame it on wanting to unpack fully. As well, I had the first of many houseguests who are staying with me over the summer. I wanted to make sure the place “showed” well.

I do have many observations that come with living in the space and I’ll try to capture them here for my new few blogs.

Today’s topic: water-based stain and lacquer.

I remember early on in the project, I had a wood finisher who gave me an estimate on some furniture repair. She was very interested in my green project and asked for a tour. As we went though the plans and ideas, she asked about cabinet finishes. What followed was a very interesting discussion between her and my contractor, whose first love is cabinetry. As it turns out, they both agreed that this was the one area that the products are disappointing. While it is true that some of the most harmful and toxic elements that one encounters in a home is what they use to seal wood, there’s a reason for the products. Wood floors, cabinets have to stand up to wear and as such, the process for doing so seems to require caustic products. Any alternative, to date, as been outrageously labor intensive and therefore cost prohibitive.

Well, I was determined to find a solution and I trusted that Cemil’s cabinetry perfectionism wouldn’t let me trade off too much in aesthetics or performance. We settled on Unaxol, distributed in the U.S. by And while the aesthetics are initially acceptable….. even, dare I say natural, there are some cautionary notes.

First, I noticed that during installation there was evidence of more dings than there should have been. Cemil was very careful, but this eco-friendly product requires more care than non-eco finishes. While it’s only been a month since I’ve been living in my new environment, I can already tell that the wood cabinets won’t hold up as well to scrubbing as the toxic alternatives. It means, that I will have to take a bit more care when cleaning up the cabinets. I will also keep a can of the stain handy in order to touch up any worn spots.

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