What Is Low-VOC Paint and Why Does It Matter?

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a freshly painted interior. Every space seems cleaner and brighter. For these reasons, most people welcome the sharp scent of painted walls and surfaces.

However, some painting manufacturers realise that more consumers want eco-friendly paints on their walls. These eco-friendly paints generally contain fewer volatile organic compounds (also known as VOCs).

What Are VOCs?

Most paints have some volatile organic compounds. These VOCs are unstable, carbon-based gases that emanate from paint as it dries. VOCs can also emerge from paint several years after painting.

Those concerned with earth’s atmosphere point out that VOCs deplete the ozone layer. Some people also experience minor respiratory irritation from VOC-based paint. Typically, latex paints are lower in VOCs than oil-based or enamel paints. However, many people feel more at ease if their paints are eco-friendly.

How to Find Greener Options

When it’s time to paint at your home or business, you may feel unsure which paint to use. Fortunately, your painting specialists understand the chemical make-up of multiple paint brands. Don’t be shy-ask your painting company about their paint brands and ingredient listings.

Meanwhile, you can benefit by knowing about the low-VOC and natural paints made today:

Plant-Based Paints

Occasionally, painting companies carry non-toxic paints created with natural materials such as plant oils, beeswax, essential oils, mineral dyes, resins, clay, talcum, natural latex and other ingredients. Water-based paint, in particular, gives off no pungent odour and usually causes few (or no) allergic reactions in humans or animals. Such paints emit zero VOCs.

Zero-VOC Paints

To qualify as zero VOC, both plant- and non-plant-based paints must contain fewer than five grams VOC per litre. However, it pays to investigate. Some paints add fungicides and colourants that contain additional VOCs. Ask your professional painter for more information before you decide on a paint type.

Also, remember that the darker the colour, the higher the VOC content. But if you start with a zero-VOC base paint, the additional colour will add a lower amount of VOCs than if you purchased an higher-VOC paint to begin with.

Low-VOC Paints

As explained earlier, low-VOC paint causes fewer emissions than normal solvent-based paints. Most low-VOC paint is made with water instead of petroleum solvents, and such paint features lower levels of formaldehyde and other chemicals.

To qualify as low VOC, a litre of paint shouldn’t exceed 200 VOC grams. Varnishes qualify as low VOC if they don’t exceed 300 grams.

Many paint manufacturers make low-VOC paints that have fewer than 25 grams VOC per litre. Those who are sensitive or allergic should choose paints with the lowest VOC rating possible.

Why Green Paint Matters

It’s true that many people feel no detrimental effects from any type of paint. However, for allergy sufferers or those who just want to use green materials, an eco-friendly paint is a great way to go.

Here are just a few benefits you’ll receive by asking your painter to go green:

  • Cost – Most zero-VOC paints cost about the same as regular latex paints. Your painter will explain pricing when you call for a quote.
  • Health – Green paint causes few (or no) fumes during the painting process. Even those with asthma or allergies can breathe more easily after painters are finished.
  • Responsibility – Eco-friendly paints help everyone who cares about carbon emissions. When you ask for zero-VOC paint, you also lower your carbon footprint and protect the earth.
  • Colour – Even green paints come in a wider array of colours than in the past. As manufacturing techniques improve, paint companies can ensure low-VOCs in virtually any colour you choose.

Have questions about low-VOC, zero-VOC or regular paint? Contact your professional residential or commercial painters for more information today.

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