Thanks to the rise in their commercial accessibility, more homeowners are switching over to low-VOC and zero-VOC paint for their property. If you’re planning to get some home remodeling done, and there’s a fair amount of painting (or repainting) involved, you might want to get in on this trend.
VOC or No VOC? That is the Question
First things first; a definition. VOC stands for “volatile organic compounds,” and yes—they are indeed as unstable as their name implies. VOCs are substances that contain carbon, and they’re very easily turned into vapors or gases. In fact, these gases are partially responsible for the new paint smell you might be familiar with.
What are They Used for?
VOCs actually assist with the quality of the paint application and drying process – which is why they were initially included in the formula. They prevent streaking and uneven drying.
Unfortunately, they are also a health hazard. Thankfully, the government regulates them now, but that doesn’t eliminate the fact that regular paint is still chockfull of these harmful little substances. When inhaled, VOCs can irritate your airways, cause headaches or nausea, potentially damage the liver or kidneys (in extreme cases), and bring about other similar health problems.
What’s worse is that these VOC gasses occur over time—not just during paint application or drying. It’s a constant occurrence.
Making the Switch: Low-VOC and Zero-VOC
You can probably guess where we’re going with this. If you’re in the middle of home remodeling, we highly recommend you switch over to low-VOC or zero-VOC or the sake of your health—and your family’s. It might take a little more research and searching than you’re used to, but the payoff is incredibly important.
“Low-VOC” paints usually contain less than 50g of VOC per liter. They’re also usually latex-based. There isn’t really a regulatory standard, but that is a fair amount less than the usual per-liter VOC measurement in regular paint. As long as the brand has met the Green Seal standard, the “low-VOC” claim is guaranteed.
“Zero-VOC” paints, on the other hand, contain fewer than 5g of VOC per liter. Ideally, these are the ones you should use in home remodeling and repainting. The fewer VOCs per volume, the better.
You can also opt for completely natural paints – like milk or chalk paint – that have virtually no VOC content. However, those may be a little harder to source.
Reason #1: Safer
As we’ve (hopefully) established by now, VOCs are extremely harmful. They pose a myriad of health risks that could potentially contribute to future health complications—or else worsen existing ones.
Switching over to zero-VOC paints is simply beneficial for everyone involved, not just those with allergies or clinically diagnosed chemical sensitivities. You want to reduce as many toxins as possible to keep your family healthy. Using low-VOC or zero-VOC paints while home remodeling is a great step towards healthier, safer living.
Reason #2: Eco-Friendly
VOC gasses are considered air pollutants as they contaminate the fresh air when released. Low-VOC and zero-VOC paints are the far more eco-friendly choice. Aside from the fact that there are no volatile components that can compromise air quality, zero-VOC paints reduce landfill and groundwater contamination.
Since there are no organic components in the formula, the risk of the paint releasing ozone-depleting compounds when disposed of is greatly reduced.
Reason #3: Effective
Since VOCs help the application and drying process, one might think that zero-VOC paints aren’t as effective or don’t look as smooth when applied.
Well, we’re happy to report that low-VOC and zero-VOC products perform just as well as paints with VOCs in terms of coverage and smooth application. Many guaranteed formulas have replacement compounds to help with the application process and drying process—ones that are less harmful and more eco-friendly.
It’s just as well, then, that low-VOC and zero-VOC paints are now more commercially accessible. If you do make the switch over for your home remodeling project, you should have minimal trouble finding and sourcing the colors and shades you want.