Finishes are vital to protecting the beauty and performance of hardwood cabinetry, flooring and millwork, and in the not-so-distant past, it was considered practically impossible to make high-quality finishes that did not emit VOCs, both during their application and throughout their service life. But that was then.
Thanks to advances in wood-coating technology, many of today’s zero-and low-VOC finishes deliver the same quality, durability and performance as their predecessors. Some manufacturers argue that today’s finishes are even better than old solvent-based products because they require fewer coatings, provide equal performance and do it in a healthier way.
Most zero-and low-VOC finishes are water-based. Because they contain no solvents, they are safe for people and the environment, and they give off virtually no odor. They’re also easier to use because they dry quickly, and clean-up can be tackled with plain soap and water.
Likewise, for an increasing array of natural paints, stains, and sealers. These products, which are made with organic ingredients such as water, plant extracts and minerals are naturally VOC-free. They give off almost no smell and, like most natural products; they are unlikely to trigger allergies or other sensitivities.
Remember however that while paints, stains and other coatings can be emitters of VOCs, they are not alone. VOCs are emitted from many other products including carpeting, electronics, cosmetics, plastics, cleaning supplies, tobacco products, and more.