Your home is your castle and nobody could take away the sheer pleasure of being able to decorate it to your liking. No homeowner is a stranger to the exhilaration of finding a paint color that matches that personal utopic image of what a beloved home stands for.
The joy of applying the satin smooth coating which spruces up the look of your home’s interior is enough to have you bouncing off the walls. And it should, because the right type and color of paint can turn your ugly duckling of a dwelling into a swan; your tired, humble abode into a real-estate treasure-trove.
But telling different types of paint apart is like nailing jelly to the wall to even the best of us. And because we don’t know what sets good paint apart from the rest, finding the safest, freshest, ‘greenest’, most suitable and most delightful paint is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
There are a few types of paint that are familiar to all of us: matte paint, matte enamel, satin finish, eggshell finish, semi-gloss and gloss, and their names are pretty self-explanatory. Finding the right one for your home is really only a matter of personal taste and circumstance.
But there is another property of wall paint that, for some reason or another, doesn’t usually feature high on conventional interior design priority lists: toxicity. And this is perplexing, considering our indoor air is three times more polluted than the air we breathe in when we go outside. In fact, conventional paint releases toxic emissions even years after it’s been applied, and these are called volative organic compounds, or VOCs.
These pollutants used to be an indicator of the paint’s quality and performance, but new regulatory initiatives urged paint formulators to produce natural paints, Low VOC Wall Paints or zero-VOC wall paint. Not only are these new formulations environmentally friendly and safe for exposure to humans, but they are also cost-effective. They don’t release odor or off-gases, and they can be disposed of safely, because they are not hazardous, reducing landfill and levels of contaminants in groundwater and atmosphere. They can be applied in less time, they can be cleaned with soap and lukewarm water and they cover previous coats and flaws remarkably well.
The writing is on the wall: conventional paints simply won’t do anymore. So a plethora of alternatives has been conjured up. Natural paints, for instance, are plant-based, made of linseed oil, citrus oil, tung nut oil, resins, soy, mineral compounds, milk casein, lime, earth pigments, clay and many other organic materials. Some Zero-VOC paints contain nano-silver particles and other mystifying ingredients, but most are made of latex and acrylics. Most low-VOC paints are vegetable oil-based or water-based solvent-free, scrubbable, odorless and durable, and they are made using a wide range of ingredients. Some paints even go as far as to absorb VOCs like formaldehyde, and are recommended for new homes, furnishings or fixtures that may be off-gassing.
Low-VOC wall paints are fundamentally better than conventional paints, because their performance has been mandated by the EPA. Formulators are required to produce low-VOC paints with proven performance that is equal to or above that of conventional paints. So not only are they better for the environment, reducing ozone pollution and smog emissions, but they are also scrubbable, washable, cheaper and easier to apply, because they don’t need any special equipment. They reduce the number of eye and respiratory irritation incidents, they provide better indoor air quality, and they are as ‘green’ as can be.
Using low-VOC wall paint is a win-win situation, really. You can take comfort in knowing that you’re using the best, safest, and most inexpensive paint on the market today to titivate your charming house, and that your choice is motivating paint producers to develop even better formulations that future generations can use.