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Not so long ago, it was common for fumes to drive people from their homes during repainting and refinishing hardwood flooring. Most conventional paints and flooring finishes contained high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that produced a breathable gas when applied. The VOCs diminish air quality, and may be detrimental to your health. Today, alternative manufacturing techniques have allowed the development of low- and no-VOC paints and finishes that release minimal or no VOC pollutants. These are often virtually odor free flooring finishes.
Why Do I Want a Low VOC Hardwood Flooring Finish?
Paints, adhesives, and other protective finishes are often formulated with solvents (or VOCs) to improve performance and durability. Additionally, paint and finish cleanup often requires toxic solvents that release additional VOC pollutants. However, increased awareness of possible health risks and overall air quality concerns has led to a demand for more eco-friendly flooring products with lower emissions of VOCs. Manufacturers have risen to the challenge, mainly by developing high-quality, latex-based coatings and adhesives for a wide variety of uses. Latex paints and finishes use water as their solvent and carrier, allowing for both easier cleanup and generally lower toxicity than oil-based paints and finishes. Today, water based paints and finishes are equal or better in quality and durability than conventional based formulas. Many stains and clear finishes for floors and cabinets are also commonly available. Robby Robinson can share your options for flooring finishes in Whatcom or Skagit Counties with a free onsite flooring consultation.
Is Low VOC Flooring Regulated?
It should be noted that not every coating is low in VOCs. Products may be described as low-VOC only when they off-gas significantly less than other products. Some oil-based paints and finishes qualify as low-VOC because their formulas have been modified. VOC levels are expressed in pounds per gallon (lbs/gal) or grams per liter (g/l). Interior paints and finishes are given a Green Seal when the VOC content is less than 50 g/l (for flat sheen) or 150 g/l (non-flat sheen).
Are No-VOC Flooring Finishes VOC-free?
For persons who are particularly sensitive, or have strong concerns about air quality during and after a flooring remodel, most major manufacturers now offer special no-VOC paints and finishes that are completely odorless and 100% “VOC-free.”