Modern Choices In Paint

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paint brush grass bristlesIt’s no secret that a freshly painted room is almost intolerable to stand in. If the air isn’t circulating thoroughly, you can quickly succumb to dizziness, nausea, and headaches. The long-term effects of paint exposure are starkly worse.

In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has stated that professional painters are 40 percent more likely to get lung cancer than your average Joe. Knowing this, your tangerine-colored living room may seem a little more bearable.

The Danger of VOCs

Conventional paints often contain formaldehyde, benzene, and something known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Not only do volatile organic compounds sound terrible, they are terrible. In fact, the government now regulates the amount of VOCs acceptable in paint.

That pungent smell of conventional fresh paint is a result of VOCs, which have links to multiple forms of cancer. Many conventional paints are also incredibly harmful to the environment and ozone layer.

Low-VOC Paint versus Non-VOC Paint

Low-VOC paints have been around for decades, but many early formulas proved difficult to spread and were less durable than conventional paints. To counter this, many companies added more ingredients that made the production process more complex. At the time, it was a stretch to say that low-VOC paints were eco-friendly. Today, many companies apply more modern production techniques and ingredients. Low-VOC paints are, in fact, more eco-friendly than in the past.

Although companies have made great strides in low-VOC paints, they’ve made even bigger advances in non-VOC formulas. Both independent and powerhouse paint companies are finding that milk-, clay-, and water-based non-VOC paints aren’t only environmentally safe, they offer excellent coverage.

Industry Leaders in Non-VOC Paint

In the past, using a truly eco-friendly paint typically involved mixing powders with base paints. The practice isn’t the most exact method for coverage consistency and good color rendering. Although some eco-friendly paint formulas still need mixing, many companies are making non-VOC paints more convenient and accessible than ever.

Although its non-VOC paint still requires mixing, The Old-Fashioned Milk Paint Company has been a leader in eco-friendly paint for more than 30 years. Completely non-toxic, the paint was originally designed for porous surfaces, such as unfinished wood, but a recently released paint formula is now suitable for wall coverage. Its milk-based formula is also safe for children to use.

On the other end of the industry spectrum, Benjamin Moore, a household name in painting, now offers a line of non-VOC paint named Natura. Eco-friendly and health-conscious, the Natura line of paint also offers excellent coverage and is virtually odor-free. In addition, Natura’s non-VOC formula is available in all of Benjamin Moore’s incredibly vast color options and doesn’t require mixing.

The Future of Eco-Friendly Paints

Currently, eco-friendly paints still only make up a minute portion of shelf space in the paint industry. Although eco-friendly paints are typically more expensive than conventional paints, that doesn’t mean that will always be the case. As techniques and ingredients improve, and competition increases, eco-friendly paints are poised to be the standard in paint — not the exception.

If you’re about to start a new paint job, remember to use low-VOC paints!


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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.