Volatile Organic Compounds (or VOCs for short) are a group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. Common VOCs include acetone, toluene and xylene which are typically used in concrete coatings and sealers to reduce viscosity so that the coating can be applied by roller or spray. Different VOCs have different health effects, ranging from highly toxic to those with no known effect. VOCs are known to particularly affect indoor air quality, with concentrations of VOCs being consistently higher indoors (up to 10 times higher) than outdoors.
Low VOC sealers are coatings that release either no, or a very small amount, of VOCs into the atmosphere. How do you know what is considered high or low levels? Products with VOCs of more than 250gm/L are considered to be high; while products with 5-49gm/L are classified as low VOC. Low VOC products offer a number of advantages over high VOC products from both a performance and environmental perspective.
The Advantages of Low VOC Sealers & Coatings
- Better applicator air quality at work site
- Higher solids providing increased product life
- Increased film thickness for quicker product application
- Less risk for safety, shipping and storage concerns
- Better acceptance at project sites where strong fumes can cause alarm.
More often than not, the above advantages reflect in the price of the product, however the old adage of you “only get what you pay for” rings true here. The slight increase in price will be more than offset in labour savings, applicator and customer air quality and product performance.
Top Tips for Working with Low VOC Products
- Choose low VOC coatings and sealers for use on indoor projects and on projects where offensive fumes can cause alarm to others nearby.
- Read and follow the technical data sheet (TDS) application guidelines carefully as low VOC products generally dry quicker than their solvent-borne cousins.