I am considering buying a house with new wooden floors. I am not sure yet what type of varnish/sealent is in use. I am concerned that the fire escape route is wooden, and I do not want to increase the long-term flammability of the flooring by varnishing it.

What should I use or avoid?

  • If correctly installed and maintained, your home smoke detectors/fire alarm system should warn you of an incipient fire... long before the wood flooring (regardless of finish) combusts such that it would block your escape route. Oct 24, 2020 at 16:57

1 Answer 1


Depends a lot on the specifics of the finish, but the most common finish, water-based polyurethane, does not create a fire hazard. Neither do other finishes, but some of them are mixed with solvents that make them easier to apply, which can be highly flammable. These solvents evaporate out, and won't be a fire hazard for long, but will be while applying. So when applying such finishes, you need to be careful with heat sources in the area, and especially make sure you dispose of the rags you use to wipe off things like shellac or tung oil quickly and safely.

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