Here's 7 quick paint tips towards a greener home.
1. Try to use only latex paint. Use oil for priming unfinished wood, only. Oil based paints have the most volatile organic compounds Latex paints emit far fewer. They also do not require paint thinner or other solvents for cleaning.
2. Check ingredients and look for Green Seal, an independent, nonprofit organization that performs environmental evaluations. Their recommendations for VOC levels: For flat paints, 50 grams/liter for interior paints and 100 for exterior. For non-flat paints, 150 for interior and 200 for exterior.
Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams are good national brands with Low VOC paints.
One drawback: Many low VOC paints can be tinted to pastel tones only, but for deeper hues, try American Pride which has some wonderful deep and rich colors:
To go for zero VOCs, you'll have to go for Milk Paint, which does not have a great life span and has a very limited color pallete. Most people don’t consider it durable enough for today's living.
3. Minimize the testing of colors. I have visited many a home where homeowners have tested 10 or 15 colors trying to find the perfect shade.
• C2 Paint rents quarts to sample. They allow you to use what you need and bring the rest back for the next homeowner! Brilliant!
• Buy the smallest quantity you can when testing. Benjamin Moore now carries very small pots.
• C2 Paint or Benjamin Moore sell pre-painted boards so you can forgo buying test paint all together.
• Visit a paint store which carries multiple lines of paints. You'll save on gas.
• Hire a decorator to choose your colors. You'll save on trips to the paint store and need not test paints at all!
4. Prepare surfaces properly. This includes cleaning walls so that paint adheres as best it can. Don’t forget to fill holes and repair as needed, too. Good prep decreases the amount of paint you need and make the paint last longer, and the job look better.
5. Try to purchase just enough paint and paint only where necessary. Not sure how much you need? Try a Paint calculator.
6. Got leftovers? Store some leftover paint for touchups and dispose of the rest properly. Oil based paint should be considered hazardous waste, so please don’t throw a can in the garbage or dump excess down a drain. Contact your local municipality for collection times.
7. Make sure to ventilate. Don’t confuse the terms low or zero VOCs to mean completely harmless. Even green products release trace amounts of chemicals to the air that some may find irritating. Open windows, use a fan to decrease dry time, but remember fumes should never be allowed to circulate through a building’s HVAC system. Also, try to leave the house for a while after you paint. Anyone have any other suggestions, feel free to add a comment.