A quick guide on what to look for when you buy flooring
VOCs are a popular factor in determining how green a product is. I often wonder if consumers who ask about the VOCs, don’t really understand what VOCs are and are too embarrassed to ask. But fear not gentile reader, I’m here to explain it to you so at the end you’ll say, “Duh, I knew that. I was just reading this for a friend.”
VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound, and while that sounds like something out of a really bad superhero origin story (Legal Edit: prolonged exposure to VOCs will not give you superpowers), it’s actually a little more complicated and less crime-fightingly interesting.
VOCs are mostly a byproduct of internal combustion engines, but can also be found in the drying/curing of industrial coatings. When they are released into the lower atmosphere (where we live) and are hit by strong sunlight, they produce what’s call Lower Atmospheric Ozone (or O3). In the upper atmosphere, O3 blocks harmful UV rays, but it is less useful in the lower atmosphere where it actually is considered a pollutant that can cause breathing problems in people with respiratory issues.
VOC levels are monitored on a state and national level. The government enacts restrictions when that level gets higher than it’s supposed to be. Essentially, VOC levels affect an entire area and are not localized to your specific house the way, say, formaldehyde emissions are.
Using a product with high VOCs doesn’t have a direct effect on the environment of your home, but it does mean you’re not being very considerate to everyone else. Remember leaded gasoline? It wasn’t bad for you specifically – it was bad for everyone around you. Same concept.
Which reminds me, the inverse of this is also true: just because something is low VOC does not mean it’s safe for humans – things like hydrochloric acid and diet soda. Human safety falls more under CARB Compliance (for our thoughts on CARB click here).
When it comes to flooring. There are no VOC emissions associated with factory-finished flooring. The flooring is coated and cured instantly in the factory with no chance for the creation of VOCs. Site finishes used in floor refinishing that require hours or days of dry/cure time is where you’ll have to worry about VOCs.
All of Revel Woods floors are factory finished and therefore VOC compliant.