You have probably been hearing more and more about eco-friendly paints, sometime called green paints. Whether or not you personally feel responsible every time you see or hear news about the ice caps melting and polar bears being displaced as a result global warming, there may be other reasons more close to home to consider using eco-friendly paints. Green paints aren't just a fad, they are here to stay, as evidenced by the new products coming out all the time which benefits your personal environment and also benefits our planet.
What exactly is going green? Simply, it is the adoption of practices to reduce your overall impact on the environment. In our field, that translates to using paint with low to no VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds. These chemicals can potentially be carcinogenic, ranging from acetone, ammonia, and formaldehyde. All paints that are used in the home are now regulated but some have more environmental impact than others. Green can also mean using products that reduce the need for repaints, or that are produced locally and reduce the need for transport.
You might be wondering if using a standard or eco friendly approach to any future projects you have in mind might be right for you. Naturally there are pros and cons to each anytime you make such decisions, but we're here to help you understand just what they are so you can make the best decision yourself.
First the good news or, the pros of going green for your next paint job. Due to a steady increase in air quality legislation, and the green movement; the painting industry has had to adjust the VOC content of all of their products. Because of the decrease in VOCs, air quality is much higher indoors and that is something to take into account for consumers with children. Green paints have taken this trend to its logical conclusion, eliminating all VOCs. Low and no VOC paints tend to have less odor than standard paints, thus being useful in areas with poor ventilation. In a situation when a speedy turnaround is essential, say painting a child's room, a school, hospital, or an office that will not be closed for an extended period of time, green paints are a good choice because of the low odor and occupants will not be exposed to such fumes. Eco-friendly paint also does not contain heavy metals, noteworthy because such metals are suspected to be responsible for a wide range of minor to serious health issues.
As for the tradeoffs, or the cons of going green for your next paint job, the cost of green paints might be higher than standard paints of the same grade making a difference in large volumes. A greater impact on cost may be that some of the lowest VOC products will require additional coats than their standard counterparts in certain cases. If your project does not need a quick turnaround, and your home or business will not be occupied during the time of the painting or immediately after, you might be hard pressed to justify the extra costs associated with purchasing eco friendly paints. Performance and durability has also been an issue of debate, as eco friendly paints may not give the longevity that standard paints will.
However, these products are getting better all the time. If you tried some of the first generation products a few years ago and were not happy, you may wish to reconsider. If you are sure of the colors you will be using a more durable standard paint may actually be the greener option in the long run if it eliminates the need for frequent repainting. This is something to be discussed with your professional painting contractor or retailer who will know all the current options that are available.
If you decide to go green and you see a displaced polar bear in your very own neighborhood, it just might be there to give you a hug for your contribution to the environment instead of scavenging for food, what can be a greater benefit than that?
If you are concerned with performance and durability of green paints, these paints are getting better all the time. Benjamin Moore's Natura® and Sherwin Williams Harmony® are both Zero-VOC paints with great durability and longevity.