By now, you may know the importance of paying close attention to VOC content when purchasing paints for the interior of your home. That can be easier said than done though, with extensive labels and new terms that aren't always clearly understood.
If you're looking for indoor paint, get a good idea of what your ecological goal is within the room you will be painting, and keep an eye out for these terms when shopping for paint.
Paints and finishes classified as "natural" are composed of only natural ingredients and contain no man-made chemicals. Paints in this category can be plant-based, milk-based or created with all-natural minerals. Notably, these natural paints are the healthiest for any indoor use, as they contain no chemicals and give off little to no smell, often pleasant at that!
Take note here that the "zero" in this classification is not actually zero. Based on established EPA standards, certain low levels of VOC substances can still be legally called "zero," despite the fact that the paints do, in fact, contain some VOCs, albeit a much lower, healthier level when compared to traditional paint. It's also worth knowing that adding a color tint to paint increases the VOC level, but in paints with already low VOC, this number is still much safer.
For the most part, the characteristic that makes a paint "low VOC" is that, rather than being produced with petroleum-based oils, the paint has been produced with a water base, therefore lowering the VOC level due to lack of those additional chemicals. These types of paints usually contain no more than half the VOCs present in traditional paints, and can sometimes be as low as 25% of the VOCs in an average can of paint. Keep an eye out here for "Green Seal Standard" paints, as these are certifiably some of the lowest "Low VOC" paints available.
Paints with the Green Seal have a more detailed list of requirements than other low VOC paints, which makes them a safer, more environmentally friendly option. In addition to requiring a lower VOC concentration, Green Seal paints are also prohibited from using a select list of harmful ingredients and must meet certain performance standards including washability and abrasion-resistance.
Making the choice to use a healthier, less toxic paint for home design is absolutely commendable. Just be sure that, when purchasing paint, you keep in mind what you need from your paint and ensure that the paint you select meets your, and the EPA's, criteria for lower VOCs.
If you're concerned about the VOCs already present in your home, try hunting down VOC absorbing paints, as these paints are equipped with a substance aimed at removing harmful VOCs from the atmosphere in your home. Once these gases have been absorbed by the paint, they remain trapped there forever, which is certainly a better place for them than in your family's lungs.
For best paint colors check out these articles:
- How to Decorate Using the Color Wheel
- How To Create A Relaxing Space: A Color Guide For Homes
- Personalizing & Organizing Your Workspace With Color