Safe Paint aka No VOC Paint
Posted by Norman Fong
Remodeling and Paint
We selected Yolo Colorhouse paint when we did our remodeling. It is Green Seal Certified. They produce zero VOC paint and primer in a variety of beautiful colors. As Yolo puts it – VOCs are bad for people and the environment. You can smell them and they easily off gas throughout your home and into the atmosphere. They cause health problems and may be depleting the Ozone.
This part of green affects people directly as you inhale any chemicals coming from the paint in your home. The cost premium was only a couple dollars a gallon. Yolo also has poster sized color swatches with actual paint on them. No need to buy wasteful small sample cans. You can also reuse the swatch as gift wrap. Quality of the paint was decent and there was no need for many coats.
The next time we needed to paint a room, Benjamin Moore had a line of no VOC paint that we purchased. The Natura paint line has virtually no odor and no VOCs. Even if you have your paint tinted, it will still retain a no VOC rating unlike other paints.
Most paint lines including Benjamin Moore and Kelly Moore now include zero or low VOC paints, so look for them when shopping. Large chains such as Lowes even carry zero VOC paints.
VOC limits are set for 250 grams per liter (g/l) for flat paints, 380 g/l for others by the US Government. California limits it to 100 g/l and 150 g/l. Los Angeles limits it to 50 g/l.
Keep in mind that a base paint color might be zero VOC but any color tints added to a base color usually will add VOCs.
Green Seal approved paints have VOC levels of 50 g/l or lower for flat paints, 100 g/l otherwise.
Quality make be inferior and more coats may be needed with these paints when compared to ‘regular’ paint, but is it worth inhaling chemicals to have a longer lasting finish?
Eco Friendly Green Exterior Paint
Eco friendly Green exterior paint has different attributes to look for when compared to interior paint.
Exterior paints have fungicides. The best choice for an exterior paint is one that has zinc oxide as the fungicide. Next best choices are zero- to very low-VOC paints, acrylic or latex paints, and recycled water-based paint. Avoid oil-based paints because of their high VOC content, as well as paint from old cans that may contain mercury or lead. California’s VOC rules have forced most paint manufactures to reforumate paint for all states.
Consumer Reports Indoor Paint Review
Consumer Reports has a new issue entitled Best TVs with a great review of indoor paints including an independent review and discussion of low and no VOC paints.
Low VOC paints contain no more than 50 grams per liter of VOCs. At one time indoor paints contained almost 400 grams per liter of VOCs.
The top rated paints were low VOC with zero VOC ones rated lower. Some of the zero VOC paints that did well in Satin and Flat finishes that we have encountered in the past are Olympic Premium from Lowe’s. This paint is very inexpensive and available nationwide.
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Elastomeric paint – Never paint your home again?
A recent radio commercial was advertising Elastomeric paint. They claim that you would Never have to paint your home again. You could laugh at your neighbors painting their houses every spring and summer. Money would be saved on painting as well as a reduction in all the chemicals and pollutants used in the processes. It was time to repaint our home, so we decided to look into this type of paint.
Elastomeric Paint Plusses
- Available in most brands and colors
- Fills small cracks and holes. Great for masonry
- Flexible, Expands and contracts in response the weather changes. Good for wide temperature changes
- Limited lifetime warranty often available
Elastomeric Paint Weaknesses
- More costly. May cost up to 5 times more.
- Each can covers far less area than conventional paint
- Latex paint is good enough for smooth surfaces such as interior trim, Sheetrock, or smooth wood
- Spraying it on is required
- Not for use on steps, floors, or glazed brick
- Clean, dry and dull finish must be achieved before applying
- New concrete or stucco surfaces must wait up to 90 days before painting
With a typical paint job lasting up to 10 years, it would take a long time to make back the price differential. If you were to sell your house, there is the distinct chance that the next owner would want to repaint it to their color scheme, negating any price premium.
Paint cannot be simply tossed into the trash or drain. Check with your local hazardous waste disposal department, as most will help you recycle paint. Paintcare has established hundreds of drop off sites to help you recycle extra paint. This program covers interior and exterior coatings sold in 5 gallon or less containers.
California required the paint industry to develop a new program to recycle post consumer paint waste. This program was created in response to this.
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