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What to Look for in Environmentally Friendly Paints

Posted by Daniel Mizrahi on Friday, August 07, 2015

Remodeling your home can be a stressful process, and one that you embark on in order to improve your home. The last thing you want to do is bring harmful chemicals and paints into your living space, which is why environmentally friendly paints have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Understanding why environmentally friendly paints are a better choice requires understanding what harmful chemicals are included in traditional paints.

Most paints contain volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) that evaporate at room temperature. These fumes are what cause nausea, dizziness, and respiratory tract irritation. Additionally, most paints contain biocides that prevent mildew and mold from growing; these chemicals are toxic, contaminate both indoor and outdoor air, and can be detected in the air as long as five years after their initial coat. If not disposed of properly, paints containing biocides can seep into groundwater and cause an even bigger problem. Lastly, some pigments used in coloring traditional paints can be toxic. Fortunately, there are natural paints that offer an alternative to using toxic paints for your home.

Look for paints with low VOCs, low biocides, and natural pigments. While the paint ingredients (and their levels of VOCs and biocides) should be printed on the paint can’s label, a little bit of online research can also help you determine which eco-friendly paint will best suit your needs.

Benjamin Moore offers Green Promise, an environmentally friendly paint line and a list of VOC levels for their Green Promise paints --- as well as color choices, a list of products, and their green standards --- is easily found on their website. Sherwin Williams carries paints that have achieved their GREENGUARD Gold Certification --- many of these paints have a zero-VOC level.

There are a few things to remember as you select an eco-friendly paint for the exterior or interior of your home.

For your Home’s Exterior

Unfortunately, almost all exterior paints contain fungicides, and you are not able to purchase low-biocide paints for the exterior of your home. If available, using an exterior paint that contains zinc oxide as the biocide will be better for the environment and your family. The next option is to select an exterior paint that contains zero- to very low-VOC levels or recycled water-based. Steering clear of oil-based paints is a good idea due to their high level of VOCs.

For your Home’s Interior

Natural paints are typically derived from minerals and available for commercial purchasing. While these paints are petroleum-free, they do contain terpenes. Terpenes are VOCs that come from plants. Be sure to select a natural paint with a low level of terpenes. Additionally, natural paints do not contain biocides and fungicides. Latex paint is another high-quality choice, especially if you select a latex paint with a low biocide count and low VOCs levels.

Having peace of mind about protecting your home with a fresh coat of paint is valuable, but not as valuable as the comfort you’ll have knowing that you family and the environment are safe from harmful chemicals contained in traditional paints. At Open Hand Remodeling, we are committed to high quality painting projects while keeping your family and our community safe.

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