Ask the Expert Painters in Guelph: Spot the Least-polluting Paints

In the past years, paint manufacturers everywhere, including Canada, have been complying with government VOC (volatile organic compounds) limits on paint products. To everyone’s benefit. While attempts are made to improve indoor air quality through the paints they make, there is still no set standard to what comprise an “eco-friendly” product. The baseline rule is that the lower the VOC, the “greener” the paint.

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According to UK-based Ethical Consumers, plant-based, water-borne paints are better choices than plant-based, solvent-borne ones with natural solvents. VOCs are vapours from paint solvents that affect the air quality we breathe. Some people are more sensitive than others, but with extended exposure to the toxic fumes, most people experience eye, nose and throat irritation or headaches, and worse, particularly with children, develop asthma and respiratory-related allergies. To prevent this, as much as possible avoid products with titanium dioxide as whitener.

While the governments from both sides of the continents are taking steps to restrict VOC in paints, your professional residential Kitchener painters can educate you on how to spot the least-polluting paints. Here, also, are some tips from ecoLiving:

  • Read product labels – The simple rule is the lower the VOCs, the safer and healthier the paint. Generally, a low-VOC paint contains less than 50 g/L before tinting; zero-VOC paint has less than 5 g/L before tinting. This means that even zero-VOC paints emit a trace amount of fumes, but will be ultra-low-odour compared with conventional paints.
  • Go flat over glossy – The flatter the sheen of the paint, the lower the VOCs.
  • Choose lighter over darker colours – The lighter the colour, the less tinting is required and the lower the VOCs. In fact, many brands that claim to have low or zero VOCs are referring to their white untinted paints.

People nowadays are expecting safer, high-quality paints that meet their growing demands for products that do not harm them. The noxious fumes of paint chemicals, such as formaldehyde and benzene, not only can lead to respiratory problems, but are also damaging to the ozone layer. Beyond mere colour and stain coverage, consumers want reduced paint emissions and other properties that contribute, instead, to the sustainability of their living spaces.

In the past, low-VOCs have been notoriously known to perform below par in quality with conventional paints. Experienced painters in Guelph, and elsewhere, who have used these early versions of eco-friendly paints, would say that these paints were hard to spread and don’t last as long.

Fortunately, that’s not true these days. Mixing technology for colorants has advanced and it’s easier than ever to find eco-friendly paints, such as the milk and clay-based formulas that are gaining ground in popularity for their performance and low or zero VOCs. Paint contractors, such as CertaPro Painters of Waterloo, can help provide you with a range of commercial paints that have since evolved (or newly produced) in color vibrancy, durability, longevity, and environmental sustainability.

(Source: Eco-Friendly Paint. ecoliving. scotiabank.com, December 12, 2013)