Since 2005 there has been many changes with many states adopting new 250 VOC architectural coatings regulations. As it stands there are 15 states across the country with these regulations and another 8-10 states looking to adopt around 2009. What does this mean for exterior Wood and Deck Coatings?
VOC (Volatile organic compounds) regulations are changing rapidly across the the nation. As it stands 16 states have adopted the more stringent 250 regulation.
These states include: California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Northern VA, Pennsylvania, Parts of Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana.
When dealing with architectural coatings, VOC levels is the amount of "allowed" solvent that is in the product. By reducing the amount of solvent you are reducing the amount evaporated into the ozone. The nationwide standard allows for a 550 level. When states adopt the 250 level they are essentially reducing the amount of solvent released into the ozone by half. Right now there are 8-10 additional states that will be adopting the 250 VOC level in the next couple of years. Once this happens the majority of states in the US will have changed and it is then predicted that the US government will make this a nationwide regulation.
How these translates for Oil Based VOC Deck Stains, is thicker body, more expensive products. When you are removing the solvents you are then adding more solid content and costs to manufacturing. By making oil based wood and deck stains thicker you are reducing their penetrating properties. Reducing the penetration can cause premature product failure. Rest assured there are high quality VOC compliant deck stains, that when applied properly will not have these issues.
The other option is to use a Water Based Deck Stain which will always be VOC compliant. Water based wood stains traditionally have always been the poorer performer between the two. This is due to the molecular size of water, reducing the penetrative properties. There has been many advancements in the past couple of years with water based stains and their ability can now be considered equal to an oil base.