Eco Friendly Paint

Low VOC Paints for interior spaces.

Eco Friendly Paint reduces the release of harmful gasses into your living space.

eco friendly paint

Paint freshens a space and has a dramatic effect on the "feel" of a room and the good news is that it doesn't have to carry a big health or environmental price tag.

There are plenty of eco friendly paint choices and more all the time

Choosing environmentally friendly paints and associated products, especially for interior jobs, has a dramatic effect on the air quality of the room - in a good way.

Environmentally friendly paint is also lung friendly. Here are some great VOC free and odor free alternatives for indoor use.

Traditional paints contain chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOC's) that off-gas into enclosed spaces when the paint is being applied or removed and for as many as 5 years after application.

Indoor air quality is said to be 2 to 5 times more contaminated than outdoors.

In an effort to keep air conditioned and heated air inside a home, windows and doors are often kept firmly shut leaving toxic gasses without an escape route. The more tightly sealed the room is and the more recently it was painted - the more toxins are held in the space.

Those who are sensitive to certain compounds in paint can experience nausea, headache, vomiting, nosebleed, dizziness, fatigue as well as skin, lung and eye irritation. At best an irritant and at worst causing long term health issues.

Add air - Ventilation dilutes the level of toxicity in the room.

What makes a Paint Eco Friendly?

There's more to environmentally friendly paint than smell and although


Today there exist several eco friendly paint choices that are durable and come in a wide selection of colors.

Check out our favorite low VOC paint options.

low VOC's are high on the list there are other consideratons that determine just how benign a paint is.

Remember that the VOC regulations are established by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). These standards are in place to reduce environmental compromise, not necessarily health compromise, albeit components that damage the environment will also likely have an impact on health.

In order to reach the holy grail of eco friendly paint, all of the following would have to be addressed.

  • Low VOCs - As discussed above, VOC's play a significant role in how earth friendly paint is.
  • Low odor - Just because a paint is low in VOC's does not mean it's low odor. Smell is subjective and what one person finds objectionable another will tolerate just fine.
  • Low in other toxins - Check MSDS sheets for things like acetone, ammonia and silica.
  • Paint coverage - Covers marks and scuffs considered normal wear and tear.
  • Ease of application - Applies evenly in 2 coats or less.
  • Quality of finished product - No flashing or obvious cutting lines.
  • Fade resistance - Does the product hold it's color well?
  • Color selection - Wide range of low VOC colors options
  • Job clean up - Clean up with water.
  • Durability - A paint job that lasts 5 or more years.
  • Washability - Flat finish paints are not particularly scrubbable - voc's or not, but you should be able to wipe walls with a damp cloth without leaving discolored or faded areas that need touch ups.

Add production processes such as packaging, labeling, manufacturing as well as transportation and office practices and you can see that there are dozens of aspects to eco friendly paint or any green product.

Eco Friendly Paint Composition

Paint is composed of 3 separate elements - The binding agent, the tint (pigment) and the solvent. The potential exists for each one of these to carry it's own health risks. The friendliest paints are zero VOC and toxin free when all 3 elements are combined.

The solvent portion keeps the paint in a liquid state which allows it to be applied to the surface and then evaporates to leave behind the dry film of pigment/binder. Solvents are the main source of VOCs in paint. Water is a zero voc solvent which means that water based paints are naturally low in VOC's until the tint is added.

The binding agent sticks to the pigment and the surface you're painting. Binders in eco friendly paint are often natural substances used throughout history such as clay, lime, milk and tempera (egg yolk).

The pigment is the color that is added. Pigment can be very high in metals such as lead (still used in some countries), mercury, cadmium, antimony, hexavalent and chromium. The addition of pigment (especially strong colors) can make a dramatic difference in the VOC level of an otherwise green paint. Companies that have "zero-VOC pigments" include; Fresh Aire at Home Depot, Mythic, Benjamin Moore, AFM and Anna Sova.

Paint is approximately two thirds liquid and one third solid. Once applied, the liquid portions evaporate leaving behind the one third of solid as the dry film that coats the surface. The evaporation of the liquid components into the space is what compromises the indoor air quality.

Some paints that tout themselves as being Low VOC are referring to the paint prior to tinting. The actual pigment can be composed of heavy metals and harsh chemicals that drastically increase the level of toxicity a can of paint holds.

Eco Friendly Paint Durability

Non flat paints have a higher content of volatile organic compounds but typically, the shinier the paint the more durable and scrubbable the paint will be.

Remember that no matter how friendly the paint is, if it doesn't go on and stay on the surface, the job will have to be redone which makes the paint non-green in our book.

Painting itself requires the use, cleaning and disposal of several materials (brushes, rollers, plastic, tape, paint cans, trays even transportation) that have their own environmental impact. The fewer times you have to paint, the better.

Why Use Eco Freindly Paint?

Those with underlying health issues (asthma and other respiratory conditions, skin and eye sensitivities) are often unable to thrive in homes where VOC's are present at high levels although anyone exposed to these compounds is absorbing and inhaling the toxins.

Low VOC Paint Quality

As demand increases so does the quality of environmentally friendly paints.

Zero VOC paints can be made more durable by adding a top coat of AFM Acrylacq. Its a water based, solvent free, acrylic lacquer replacement.

Today there exist several choices that are durable and come in a wide selection of colors. Check out our favorite low VOC paint options.

What to Look For - Eco Friendly Paint

There's more to the story on environmentally friendly paints than volatile organic compounds.

Chemicals such as ammonia, acetone, buytl acetate, silica, formaldehyde precursors and others are not included in the EPA's definition of VOC's and are often included in paints that are labeled low or no VOC. Additionally, antimicrobials, antifungals and mildew inhibitors (some of which can be harmful) are sometimes added to so-called "eco friendly paint".

MSDS sheets should be easy to access (most are available through the company's website). Companies whose products are truly green and above reproach will be happy to display the nitty gritty information regarding their products.

VOC's are often responsible for the strong odor in paints but don't let a sweet smell fool you. Some products that tout themselves as low or no VOC contain heavy metals and toxins such as cadmium and formaldehyde and disguise the odor using odor suppressants. Low odor does not nesessarily equal eco friendly paint.

Unless a paint is completely natural it will contain some VOC's. Measured in grams per litre (g/l) or pounds per gallon (lbs/gal) eco friendly paints must adhere to strict guidelines regarding VOC content.

Paints that are labelled "zero VOC" must contain 5 grams per litre (g/l) or less VOC's.

Paints that are labeled "Low VOC" must contain fewer than 50 g/l if it's a flat finish and 150 g/l for non-flat finishes.

That may sound like a lot but it's a huge step from the almost 1000 g/l some paints that were manufactured prior to 1999 contained.

Have YOU used eco friendly paints?

If you have something to say about eco friendly paints, we're all ears.

Share your experiences with low and zero voc paints, what you like about them and what you don't.

Do you have pictures? We love pictures and so do our visitors (as you're well aware, being one of our visitors yourself)

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Visitors to our Eco Friendly Paint page may also be interested in the following pages.

Low VOC Paint
No VOC Paint
Edible Finger Paint

going green at home

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