Re: Alternatives to polyurethane floor finishing
There are three alternatives to poly that I have employed for my own house, and a fourth that I did for a customer.
1) shellac. Fastest-drying, non-toxic, four coats in a day. Low wear areas like bedrooms is probably the best application (where I used it).
2) waterlox. a very thin varnish, really brings out the grain of woods like heart pine. Fairly soft. Very prominent odor until cured.
3) Fast-dry synthetic varnish (BenMoore 1-hour clear finish.) No longer in production due to the VOC thing. Was really something, though. If it scratches, you could buff it out perfectly. I miss the stuff.
4) stain and tinted wax. (Briwax/Liberon/ etc)Not everybody's "cuppa", but a very fine and completely unique finish. Has the lowest level of protection and has to be rewaxed frequently, But the look!
All these materials have one important thing in common: they may be touched up as needed with the same material without ever resorting to sanding the floors again. In historic work this is the prime consideration. Every time a floor is sanded you lose material and eventually the floor is worn out. With poly that's the way it is, your floor is carried to the curb as bags of dust, Bye-bye!
Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.