In the 21st-century, customers are becoming more and more aware of the chemicals that they are using in their daily lives. They’re more knowledgeable about the foods they eat as well the environmental impact of their home goods. Floor finishes are no different. That’s why VOC-free floor finishes are becoming more common for use in floor installations and repairs.
What Are VOC-Free Finishes?
First, you need to be acquainted with VOCs. VOC is short for “volatile organic compound.” A volatile organic compound is an organic compound that is likely to turn into a vapor under normal atmospheric conditions, such as those in your home. An organic compound is any compound that contains carbon. So, a VOC is a carbon-containing chemical that is likely to vaporize in your home. In relation to paints and finishes, the carbon compounds are usually hydrocarbons such as fossil fuels.
Obviously, you don’t want fossil fuels and similar compounds turning into breathable vapor inside of your home. That, in a nutshell, is why VOC-free finishes are becoming more popular.
How Volatile Are VOCs?
There is a very wide range of compounds that could be considered VOCs or VOC-free. Some floor finishes are volatile while they are still wet, but once they cure and dry, the finish will no longer vaporize. That could mean that the VOCs have all vaporized in the curing process or that they’ve become locked in the structure of the dry sealant. These are often called VOC-free as well. If you want a finish that is made with no VOCs, you need to search for that.
The truly VOC-free compounds are made from chemicals that do not sublimate under normal conditions. They also often have lower odor, which is a bonus.
Does It Matter?
VOC-free or zero VOC floor finishes are generally considered a little more gentle on the environment. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas; therefore, when you release carbon-containing compounds into the atmosphere, they will likely form into carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. However, the effects are likely pretty miniscule. Typically, customers choose low or no-VOC chemicals because they don’t want to breathe in the gases.
If health is your primary concern, you could choose a non-toxic floor finish instead. If you are worried about odor, most finishes will cease smelling in a matter of a few days. Also, you could opt for a low-odor finish regardless of their VOCs. You should ask a professional flooring installer about various finish options.