Glue Law Affects East Coast Trim Shops

Published by Naseem Muaddi on January 29th, 2012

Dan Krawczyk of Three Rivers Supply Company recently sent a letter to all of his customers explaining a new regulation created by the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) that affects nearly all trim shops on the East Coast. Shops that don’t adhere to the new regulation may face legal penalties.

The OTC is a multi-state organization that’s responsible for advising the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on solutions to air pollution. Recently, it put into effect manufacturing restrictions to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOC) in sealants, primers and adhesives that contribute to poor air quality.

These VOCs are bad for the environment, but they’re also a critical component of upholstery adhesives. In fact, it’s the high content of VOCs that make our glue so sticky and resistant to high temperatures. The new rule, based on regulations already in effect in California, calls for a reduction from the current 600 grams of VOCs per liter to a mere 250 grams.

The result is an adhesive that is much weaker than what we auto trimmers need.

Still, shops can take advantage of “The Small Quantity Exception”. This portion of the new regulation allows shops to use 55 gallons of high-level VOC adhesive per year. However, any amount over 55 gallons will need to be OTC-compliant glue.

To be eligible for this exemption, the regulation stipulates that shops must “record and maintain monthly operational records sufficient to demonstrate compliance”.

Meanwhile, manufacturers and suppliers are struggling to develop new glue that will perform just as well as our current adhesives, but abide by the new regulation. In the meantime, we are being asked to use our glue in moderation and supplement with aerosol spray-can glue for jobs that don’t require a lot of strength and heat resistance.

Below is a list of states impacted by the new regulation and when it goes into effect:

  • Connecticut: rule in effect
  • Delaware: rule in effect
  • District of Colombia: rule in effect
  • Maine: rule in effect
  • Maryland: rule in effect
  • Massachusetts: rule goes into effect May 1, 2012
  • New Hampshire: rule under development
  • New Jersey: rule in effect
  • New York: rule in effect
  • Pennsylvania: rule in effect
  • Rhode Island: rule in effect
  • Vermont: rule under development
  • Virginia: rule in effect

Now I’m all for reducing pollution, but as the owner of a trim shop based in Pennsylvania, high-level VOC glue is critical to my shop’s success. Without it or an adequate substitute, I can’t warranty my work. Can you imagine installing a vinyl top on a customer’s car and having him return soon after because the glue wore off in the summer heat?

For a free quart sample of the new OTC-compliant glue, contact Three Rivers Supply Company.




14 Responses

  1. Ed Green says:

    The EPA really needs to be disbanded!! this goverment agency has lived past its time.

  2. mike alvarez says:

    more research should have been done before the glue was introduced…there got to be a way to till have the same adhesive strength while getting rid of the toxins

  3. Nadeem says:

    I agree with you Mike.

    I’ve said for years that the toxins in our glue are not healthy to breathe. But to continue to do the work that we do, we need it.

    A substitute that’s just as strong should have been developed before the regulation went into effect.

  4. Nadeem says:

    Readers left the following comments about this article on our Facebook page and another upholstery forum:

    Mary Walker Ugoletti: No more sniffin’ the glue! You use too much of it up and the feds will get you!

    DBR1957: This has been coming for years.

    Some time ago we tried the 3M water-based latex glue. It came as a
    2-part mix that combined at the nozzle of the gun. It was a PIA to use.

    I remember quite a few boat headliners falling down on young boats because
    manufacturers had switched to the latex glue and the application was different
    than high VOC glues. To make it work a consistant and complete coating was
    needed on both sides. It had a long tack time which meant it was easy to
    saturate the fabic even if it was foam backed.Seems the factory workers were
    applying it just as they would the HVOC glue which was not enough. Result,
    headliners fell down.

    Unfortunately, I was the first guy to get a call if there was a headliner problem.
    After a time I just said no more. Believe me it wasn’t a long time either. I think a
    few got sent back to the factory. Actually think I priced a warranty job once and
    the warranty rep called me and said I was too high. Said he had a guy that said it
    could be done in much less time. I asked him why was he talking to me then, send
    him up. Relunctantly he authorized me to do it.

    Wonder what happened to his guy?

    So don’t be surprised if you get a lot of warranty requests if this goes full bore!

  5. Howard says:

    Unfortunately, the industry has been slowly weening us into this stuff. Started with the flooring industry, they were cutting the VOC’s by half in there adhesives and then soon enough almost full zero. Lucky for them all there stuff stays under their feet. I am fearing dropped headliners and bubbling vinyl tops, more so in the Northeast with humidity levels in the summer. Time to stock pile.

    • Naseem Muaddi says:

      I agree Howard. A friend of mine has a trim shop in New Jersey where they are real sticklers about the law. He keeps one 5 gallon drum of low VOC glue in stock at all times in case of random checks but he uses the regular glue on a daily basis.

    • Nadeem says:

      I share those fears Howard. If they don’t come out with an adequate substitute, we may find ourselves bootlegging glue like they do in California.

      Ahkahn, who commented about this article on another upholstery forum, wrote: “Legally speaking, a trimmer/upholsterer can not buy or use glue in Southern California. What do they do? They go over the border into AZ or NV and buy their glue.”

  6. Mike Jay says:

    My shop is in San Francisco Ca. The EPA out here is ridiculous. For a time they had the glue so watered down we couldn’t get a glue that would even hold a headliner. Our suppliers somehow appealed to the EPA and we are now able to get a better adhesive but it is nothing like it used to be. I assume eventually the rest of the country will follow.

  7. Jan D says:

    Can you recommend a stronger glue than Dap Weldwood contact cement for custom door panels, I can’t seem to get Weldwood to harden enough to trust it will hold the vinyl onto the panels, it seems to stay tacky even overnight! I need help Please. Thanks, Neet seats at Parkway Motors, Fords, NJ 08863

    • I use a glue called Sta-Put. It comes in five gallon drums and can be purchased from 3 Rivers Supply and The George Shaw Company.
      It’s never given me a problem with staying tacky.

      • Jan D says:

        Thank you Naseem, would you happen to know the Sta-Put adhesives product number, I know they make quite a few adhesives, I used to use the green glue by them before they changed their name over a year ago,but it dosn’t seem to be available anymore. I was on their website and all of their adhesives seem to be for construction uses.
        I’ll check with 3 Rivers Suppy for the Dap Weldwood that someone posted for me…Thanks, I think the Dap sounds like a great adhesive. Jan D

  8. More goverment control…just what we need.Jan D I use the Dap Weldwood,its good stuff.

  9. mike sweeney says:

    is it the weld wood dap glue? and if it is is there a number we should be looking for I live in illinois


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