How Not to Die When Refinishing

Written by Sarah Boudreau from Refinished Bath Solutions

Modern refinish applications have been a staple to the upkeep and maintenance of apartments, condos, and homes for decades. Used on all types of surfaces, walls, bathtubs, countertops, and floors, it has become a faster and more cost-effective way to brighten up property than expensive replacement. However, the process is not without its issues, such as peeling, technical application, and oh that smell.


Let’s talk about the smell. The human brain is a remarkable thing. It can translate almost any sensation and tell you instantly whether something is dangerous or safe. Therefore when spraying a bathtub and you feel like choking due to fumes, could it be that your brain is telling you, “Danger, poison, getaway?”

Science would argue that your brain is telling you this revolting smell is potentially dangerous to your health. Your brain, as usual, is on the money. Nausea, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, asphyxiation, cancer, death are all possible outcomes when applying these products. Now let’s discuss Methylene Chloride, Isocyanates, and Nonylphenol.

Methylene Chloride:  

  • Found in: Most refinishing products and paint strippers.​
  • Impacts: Brain function, including concentration, causes fatigue, headache, nausea,​   and dizziness. It irritates the eyes, throat, and nose. If the skin comes into contact, it will cause a chemical burn.
  • Extreme Impacts: Asphyxiation, loss of consciousness, coma, and sudden death.​
  • Long-Term Impacts: Liver, Lung, Breast, and Mouth Cancer.​
  • *Per the CDC website: ​ In February 2012, a worker using a product containing​ methylene chloride to refinish a bathtub, was found dead, slumped over a bathtub in an unventilated bathroom.


  • Found in: Spray Epoxies.​
  • Impacts: Fatigue, headache, nausea, and dizziness.​
  • Extreme Impacts: Toxic poisoning on skin contact and inhalation leading to potential​   death.
  • Long Term Impacts: Cancer.​


  • Found in: Epoxies, latex paints, and detergents.​
  • Impacts: Skin and eye irritation.​
  • Long Term Impacts: Galds degradation causing hormonal imbalance, congenital​ disabilities, and reproductive harm.
  • *Due to its harmful nature to people and the environment, most European countries​ have banned Nonylphenol, and Canada moves in the same direction.

So what can you do?

Nobody is interested in harming health or the environment, even if it does save money-a tough predicament for sure. Fortunately, there are solutions.

  • If you are going to use these products, make sure proper ventilation, skin protection, lung protection, and eye protection. Regarding Nonylphenol, you might protect yourself, but the environment is out of luck.


  • When available, buy products without these hazardous toxins. Products like Ekopel 2K and Counter Cast 2K have none of these compounds, are safe for​ your tenants, and don’t pose a threat to the environment.

You don’t need to kill yourself to get a luxury finish at an affordable cost.