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Painting Concord – Comparing “Green” Paints

Painting Concord – Comparing “Green” Paints

People have become more conscious of how their actions can affect the environment, including painting in Concord homes or businesses. They can have the option to use “green” or environmentally-friendly paints. Various “green” paints are available today as more people are becoming aware of their impact on the planet. This article discusses everything you should know about “green” paints.

Traditional paints

Most professional and DIY painters use regular paints, and these paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as:

  • Acetone
  • Toluene
  • Xylene
  • Benzene
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Propylene glycol
  • Styrene
  • Glycol ethers
  • Ethanol
  • Dichloromethane
  • Formaldehyde

VOCs help preserve paints, improve flow, and create unique properties like mold or corrosion resistance.

While VOCs are a significant factor, they are far from the only things to consider in determining a paint’s environmental friendliness. Other ingredients that make traditional paints less safe for the environment include biocides (ingredients that kill harmful bacteria, which is necessary), phthalates, vinyl chloride, and how biodegradable paint is. Packaging can also be a factor, as some elements of packaging can also harm the environment.

What makes paint “green” or eco-friendly?

“Green” paints are defined as paints that contain very little or no harmful chemicals usually found in traditional paints. As you expect, they have very low or no VOCs, making green paints safer for the environment and human health.

These “green” paints do not contain and release toxins and also do not require petroleum-based cleaners. If you are working with a professional painting in Concord contractor, specify to them to use eco-friendly instead of the usual paints.

If you think that major paint brands don’t offer “green” paints, they do. Fortunately, most major brands offer their version of “green” paint. Some of the paints being advertised as “green” include Yolo Colorhouse No VOC Paint, Delta Soy Paint, Benjamin Moore Green Promise, Center*Star Thermopel, Real Milk Paint, Sherwin-Williams GreenSure, Behr Premium Plus, and Glidden Brilliance. These are all low- or no-VOCs, and low-odor products.

Additionally, those major paint brands usually have information on their official websites that will help you determine whether their paint – all or just one variety – fits in the “environmentally friendly” category. VOC content is the most visible and significant aspect of most eco-friendly varieties, but other components are also often mentioned.

The federal government limits VOC content to 250 grams per liter (g/l) for flat paint and 380 g/l for low-luster, semi-gloss, and high-gloss paints. However, other paint manufacturers have opted to comply with more stringent VOC limits. Some paint products must be 50 grams or less per liter to be labeled “low VOC,” while others must be 5 grams or less to be labeled “no VOC” or “zero VOC.”

How can you tell if the paint is “green”?

Most paint manufacturers don’t display a detailed list of ingredients on their labels. This makes identifying what’s in a paint can be pretty challenging. Even looking at the product’s datasheet won’t provide such information.

However, one of the ways to determine whether or not that paint product is “green” is to check for independent testing certification seals, most notably the Greenguard, Green Seal, and GreenWise labels.

When a paint product – and even the packaging – displays the following “green” certifications, it has been evaluated and tested to conform to stringent chemical emission limits.

  • Greenguard (stylized as GREENGUARD) – Paints with this certification seal typically have less than 50 grams of VOCs per liter.
  • Green Seal – Paints with this certification seal typically contain less than 50 grams of VOCs per liter for flat paint and less than 100 grams per liter for low-luster, semi-gloss, and glossy paints.
  • GreenWise – This certification label indicates that the products have been tested and certified by the Coatings Research Group, Inc. But since the Coatings Research Group, Inc. is an association of paint manufacturers, it is considered less credible than other independent testing groups.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists private-sector standards and eco labels for interior latex paints. You can view this list here.

So, before making any quick decision on which type of paint you’ll purchase, turn the can around and look at the back of the label to ensure you’ll be getting “green” paint.

Choosing natural paints for your home

If you are looking for environmentally safer alternatives to conventional paints, opt for “natural” paints.

As indicated by the name, natural paints contain naturally occurring ingredients and thus do not require high levels of processing. Moreover, manufacturing these paints is less intensive than processing regular paints. Production of traditional paints can lead to toxic waste, most non-biodegradable – and you can’t find that in natural paints.

Natural paints are usually made from plants, clay, and milk proteins tinted with mineral oxides. They’re a non-toxic alternative to low- and even (most) zero-VOC paints. Indeed, natural paints are so safe that even a pregnant woman can use them to decorate her nursery without worrying – and even with the windows closed.

Natural paints are also easy to clean with soap and water. Unlike oil-based and even latex paints, you can safely dispose of natural paint in the garbage or pour them down the sink.

  • Plant-based paints are made with plant extracts and other raw ingredients instead of synthetic chemicals. They are easy to apply and usually require 1 to 3 coats. They typically take 1 to 3 hours to dry, and you can re-apply in 4 to 6 hours. Plant-based paints offer the widest selection of colors of all the natural paint options.
  • Clay paints are made of clay, offering a thick, plaster-like consistency with rich hues. Clay paints are durable and naturally mold- and mildew-resistant. Apply them directly to the surface without requiring a primer. Since they’re thick, clay paints take only 1 to 2 coats. Clay paints can also help regulate indoor temperature and humidity, staying warm to the touch during the cooler seasons and cool during the summer. But the downside of these paints is that they take pretty long to dry – 2 days at the most. You can find clay paints in more than 60 colors, so there’s plenty to choose from for different areas of your home.
  • Milk paints typically contain casein (milk protein), clay, lime, and earth-based pigments. They are usually packaged as a dried powder that requires mixing with water before application. Milk paints work best on raw, previously unpainted wood. They offer a naturally rustic appearance with a slight difference in shades, which only adds to their beauty. These paints don’t fade, chip, or peel; they even become lustrous over time. They require 1 to 3 coats, take only an hour to dry, and allow you to re-apply in as little as 2 hours.

However, natural paints are a little more expensive than regular paints, but not prohibitively so. They’re also tricky to find in physical stores, making it much easier to find online.

Whichever variety you decide to use, remember that you are welcome to discuss the options, and their pros and cons, with those experienced in painting in Concord. They will be able to provide their recommendations for “green” paints.


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