The next time you buy a drum of cure-and-seal, you may be getting a product quite different from the same brand you've used previously. That's because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in efforts to reduce health hazards and protect the environment, has established a new regulation limiting the VOC content in architectural coatings. In addition to cure-and-seal products, the new regulation applies to other coatings commonly used on concrete: bond breakers, form-release agents, and waterproofing sealers. Any of these coatings manufactured or imported on or after the regulation's compliance date-Sept. 13, 1999-must meet the new limits on VOC content.

While the Architectural Coatings Rule as written applies only to coating manufacturers and importers, they aren't the only ones affected by the changes that it causes. Specifiers should update their coating specifications, and contractors should check the prices of the new VOC-compliant coatings and their availability before bidding a job. Both specifiers and contractors need to be aware that reformulated coatings may not perform the same as their original versions.