With growing consumer concern about products that are hazardous to the environment, several standards have been developed within the wood floor industry regarding eco-friendliness. It’s important for you, as a contractor, to know about these standards so you can educate your clients, and be prepared when your clients bring up it up.
CARB (California Air Resources Board) Compliance
In 2007 the California Air Resources Board released new regulations regarding formaldehyde in composite wood products and the adhesives and resins they contain. This legislation impacted the standards of prefinished hardwood floors and laminate floors that can legally be sold in the state of California.
If a product is CARB compliant, it adheres to California’s standards for air quality and contaminants. This is a good sign that the product doesn’t pose any health hazards — California has among the strictest laws in the country regarding hazardous compounds and air quality in consumer products.
As homeowners become more eco-minded, it’s important to make sure the composite wood products you are using are safe and do not contain formaldehyde, even if you’re not based in California.
Choosing CARB-compliant products and explaining what CARB compliance means can help to put your clients at ease about the hardwood floor installation process.
VOCs = Volatile Organic Compounds
A volatile organic compound (VOC) is a chemical that has high vapor pressure at room temperature, resulting in molecules sublimating and entering the air. VOCs are important to know about because they can be dangerous to human health, and they’re present in various products.
Many products that you probably work every day with may have high VOC counts — oil-based poly finishes in particular tend to contain large amounts of VOCs.
The good news is that there are many oil-based and water-based floor finishes on the market that have low amounts of VOCs, such as:
Choosing products with low VOC counts can help you market yourself as a “green” contractor and — more importantly — will keep you and your clients safe.
Besides chemicals, other products that you probably use every day can also pose hazards — even something as innocuous as a flooring underlayment. That’s why FloorScore exists. It denotes flooring products — including flooring, adhesives, and underlayments — that have low VOCs. Look for a FloorScore label on your flooring products to ensure that they promote good indoor air quality.
Now that you’re familiar with this terminology, go forth and be eco-friendly!