Here is a guest post from our friends at Modernize, an online service that connects homeowners with trusted pros specializing in exterior home improvement projects including solar, roofing, windows and HVAC solutions. They specialize in sharing green & eco-friendly tips and tricks for the home.
As consumers discover the hidden dangers lurking in everything from foods to furnishings to the walls themselves, the word “eco-friendly” becomes ever more important. For decades, people painted their homes without knowing that the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals in their “Essential Teal” or “Gala Pink” were jeopardizing their families’ health and creating air pollution.
Today, however, there are countless eco-friendly paints available that perform just as well as traditional paints and come in a wide variety of colors. Here are a few types to consider when giving your home a fresh look.
Companies like The Real Milk Paint Company and The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company make products based on a milk protein called casein, as well as other natural ingredients like iron oxide pigment and lime. They contain no additives, no distillates, and most importantly, no VOCs. Milk paint takes us back to the days before industrialization. At that time, oil-based paints with harmful chemicals became the standard simply because they wouldn’t spoil during shipping like milk paint would. To avoid spoiling, milk paint companies ship their ingredients dry, and you mix the paint with water yourself before applying.
Milk paint will typically give you a matte look, so if you prefer a high gloss, this may not be the paint for you.
Other Water-Based Paints
Water-based paints, or acrylic emulsions, now account for 80 percent of residential paint product sales, according to the Paint Quality Institute. Companies like Farrow & Ball make high performance water-based paints with natural pigments and low to zero VOCs. One of the easiest ways to know if a paint is water-based is to look at the instructions for cleaning the brush—if it can be washed with warm, soapy water rather than solution, it’s most likely a water-based paint.
Affordable and DIY
Many high-quality green paints will cost around 70 or 80 dollars per gallon. But there are companies that do things a little differently. For example, Yolo Colorhouse, which is based in Portland, offers low VOC paints for just $35 per gallon at Home Depot. You may be limited to 128 options, but if sustainability is as important to you as it is to us at Modernize, you are more than likely to be satisfied with the selection. Some savvy people may prefer to experiment making their own eco-friendly paint based on flour or casein.
Some recognizable brands have created lines of low or no VOC paints. Devine Color is brought to you by Valspar, and offers no VOC paints at a decent price. Benjamin Moore offers Aura, which is a low VOC line, and Natura, a zero VOC line, both of which dry quickly and have limited odor.
If the paint you choose contains any VOCs whatsoever, make sure you ventilate your home well during and after painting. Make sure your primer and any other product you use in your home is equally as healthy for your family as the paint.