• Home >
  • Blog >
  • Eco-Friendly Paint: What You Need to Know

Eco-Friendly Paint: What You Need to Know !

Eco-Friendly Paint: What You Need to Know

As people around the United States and the world become more environmentally conscious, green initiatives are popping up in just about every industry and application. In the painting industry we have seen the growth of eco-friendly paints, which offer a more environmentally-friendly option compared to traditional paints.

Today we will take a closer look at eco-friendly paints so you can learn about what they are and so you can ask for them by name for your next painting project.

Differences between Eco-Friendly Paint and Traditional Paint

The main difference between eco-friendly paints and traditional paints is the amount of VOCs. We will discuss VOC in a second, but to make a general statement, eco-friendly paints are specially formulated to have lower levels of these chemicals, and therefore to be safer for the environment and personal health. As we will discuss later, many other supposed ‘differences’ are simply myths.

What Is VOC?

VOC stands for volatile organic compound. VOCs are found everywhere and they are released by both natural things (for example, trees) and man-made things (like paint). VOCs can be harmful to people, animals and the environments, so painting developers have created more environmentally-friendly paints by lowering the number of VOCs in the formula.

Why Are VOCs Harmful?

VOCs are problematic because as the paint dries, these chemicals evaporate into the air. In a person, this can lead to nausea, dizziness, irritation, and even organ damage or cancer. You may have experienced some of these symptoms if you ever painted indoors without proper ventilation.

In the outdoors, VOCs can pollute the air, contribute to emissions-related problems, and decrease the air quality. The California Environmental Protection Agency has been working on reducing emissions and improving air quality. Part of this includes specific regulations for VOCs in coatings, which includes paints, varnishes, stains, and other coatings applied to beautify surfaces.

It is also important to understand that VOCs present long-term problems. Even after the paint dries, VOCs can evaporate into the air for up to five years.

Solution – Low VOC Paint

In the late 1990s, paint companies started to experiment with special formulas to lower the amount of VOCs in paint. The challenge was to replace the toxic chemicals with safer alternative materials, and it proved more difficult than expected. Early generations of low VOC paints had problems with application, flow, drying and more. While VOC levels went down, so did quality.

Over time, paint developers have continued to explore ways to lower VOC while preserving quality. These developers are pushed by government regulations (such as those required by California’s EPA) as well as consumer demand for environmentally safe products. The result has been an improvement in quality and an increase in the number of commercial and residential projects that use low VOC paint.

Low VOC vs No VOC Paint

There are currently two types of green paint options on the market, known more generally as low VOC and no VOC. Both types attempt to lower (or even eliminate) the amount of harmful chemicals found inside the paint.

To qualify for a low or no VOC label, the paint must go through EPA test 24. In this test, they measure the concentration of VOC inside the paint. Low VOCs are paints that have less than 50 VOC grams per liter. Because the test can only measure down to 5 VOC grams per liter, “no VOC” paints are those that have less than 5 VOC grams per liter (which doesn’t guarantee the complete absence of VOC, but does demonstrate that it has the lowest level that we can currently measure).

Myths of Low VOC Paints

As mentioned above, the difference between traditional paint and low VOC paint has to do with the amount of VOC chemicals in the formula. Other myths about the differences are simply not true. These myths include:

  • VOC paints don’t work as well as traditional paints in terms of application and coverage.
  • VOC paints don’t come in a range of colors.
  • VOC paints are not as durable as traditional paints.
  • Reduced toxins emitted into the atmosphere.
  • Better for personal health (allergies, sensitivities, etc.)
  • Low or no hazardous fumes when being applied and after paint has dried.
  • Easy cleanup and disposal, as low VOC paint is not deemed a hazardous waste.
  • Effective in terms of coverage and the ability to cover flaws.
  • Scrubability and easy water-based cleanup.
  • A company that drives fuel efficient vehicles or uses carpooling practices.
  • A company that has a solid recycling plan.
  • A company that makes good use of ‘waste’ paint, such as donating it to charities rather than throwing it away.

Paint developers have been working hard to create low VOC formulas that match the quality of traditional paints in every way. They come in a wide variety of colors, can be applied just as easily and effectively as traditional paints, and are made to last.

A final myth is that low VOC paints are not affordable. This is not true. Although low VOC paints cost a little more than traditional paints, they are still cost-effective and within budget for anyone who wants to make a smaller environmental footprint on their next painting projects.

Benefits of Low VOC Paints

While we’ve cleared up the myths about low VOC paints, it’s still important to point out their specific benefits. These include:

The environmental benefits are particularly important to people living in San Francisco and the Bay Area. The area has been a leader in sustainability and environmental activism. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center poll found San Francisco to be the 4th Greenest City in America out of 150 cities that were explored in the research.

The other benefits on the list are important to any homeowner who cares about his/her own health as well as the appearance and maintenance of their painted surfaces.

Finding an Eco-Friendly Painter

You can find an eco-friendly painter in your area by doing a little homework in advance. The first thing is to look at the company’s website. If a painting company uses eco-friendly practices, you will typically find it listed on their home page or About Us page. By exploring the website you can get many of your questions answered before you get an estimate.

Whether listed on the website or not, the next thing is to ask the company about the type of materials they use. The company should be able to tell you that they use low VOC paints on their residential or commercial projects.

Of course being eco-friendly is more than just paint materials. Other things you may look for are:

  • A company that drives fuel efficient vehicles or uses carpooling practices.
  • A company that has a solid recycling plan.
  • A company that makes good use of ‘waste’ paint, such as donating it to charities rather than throwing it away.

Choosing Eco-Friendly Paints for Your Next Painting Project

Now that you know more about eco-friendly paints, you understand how important they are for the environment – both the indoor environment that impacts your health, and the outdoor environment that impacts us all. Use this knowledge to ask specifically for eco-friendly, low VOC paints on your next painting project.

MB Jessee is proud to offer eco-friendly painting services to homeowners and business owners in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can read more about or eco-friendly initiatives here, and call us at (510) 655-7000 to schedule an estimate.

virtual estimate

Get a Virtual Quote

For Your Home or Business

Request an Estimate

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area

Why People Hire Us

Background-Checked, Dedicated Team Members

Clear Communication

Experienced Oversight of Every Job

Fully Licensed & Insured

Exceptional Service & Attention To Detail

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

Best of Oakland 2018 BBB American Society of Interior Designers ASID Nolan Summit Services Inc Leadsafe Certified Firm EPA Community Associates Institute NARI Member

Customer Reviews

“Our paint crew did a great job and the foreman, Gersson was exceptionally great to work with. He was always available to answer questions, good at problem-solving, very patient, kind, and highly professional with great customer service. We definitely recommend this company, and Gersson and his crew.”

— Andrea Y.
Berkeley, CA

“MB Jessee just finished our exterior and we couldn't be happier with our experience. The foreman (Pedro) and lead painter (Ricardo) were incredible to work with: they communicated scheduling clearly, Ricardo was a joy to be around every day, the showed up early every day, were incredibly tidy and did great paint work. The final walkthrough experience was incredible. Pedro pointed out items I missed demonstrating a clear desire to complete another quality project. I highly recommend them. As others have noted they definitely aren't the cheapest but you quickly realize that you're getting what you pay for. The 3-year guarantee is also a nice touch since there are likely touch-up items that will show up after the job is done.”

— Joshua J.
Oakland, CA

“My entire experience with MB Jesse was very professional. The crew were very friendly and super accommodating of my ridiculous schedule and geriatric pets in the house. The finished product, which was pretty much my entire house, far exceeds my expectations. Would definitely work with them again!”

— Heather Jordan

“Julie,Just to let you know I am very appreciative of your crew catching the plumbing/mold problem. It was very astute of them. I wanted to let you know that again your crew has done excellent work here, please pass this along to Mr. Jessee. There are some bumps in the road here, but the painting and your crew has not been one of them. Their work is the only thing going right currently, and this crew is very nice and respectful. It is much appreciated. Thank you again.”

— Beth

“Charles finished yesterday and did a fantastic job. We really enjoyed meeting Charles and having him in our home. He is a great guy in addition to his attention to detail in his work, the protection of our floors, walls and furnishings, and his overall interaction with us both. I would be pleased to recommend him to any of my clients.”

— Ken Morrison

“The people at M.B. Jessee are great – from the painters to the office staff to Matt. Talk about leadership from the top.”

— Kevin Ames, Mark Becker Homes

“We just wanted to let you know how pleased we are with the work of MB Jessee Painting and your employees. Everything turned out beautiful. Our foreman was great! He was punctual, professional, neat and very accommodating ... and went the extra mile. We will definitely recommend you to our friends and family.”

— Michelle & Rivers Gee

“I just wanted to send you an email to say that John did such a great job over here today. He is truly a hard worker. He has the perfect balance of friendliness, honesty, and professionalism. I trust him. He takes the time to do the job to the best of his ability and that is what sets him (and your company) apart from the competition. He didn't make me feel rushed. He really made me feel like our job was the most important thing in the world. Thanks again!”

— Jo

“Today I received a beautiful bouquet from your company. It was totally unexpected and very much appreciated--a lovely surprise. Also today, your crew finished my job. I am so pleased with all their fine work. Richard is absolutely amazing and a total delight to work with. He was also extremely helpful during the paint color process. The interior work in my home far exceeded my expectations. A big thank you to you and the crew for an outstanding job. Thank you, thank you for a terrific job!”

— Barbara

“Richard and crew have been great, for sure. As much as I look forward to having the job done and my house back in order, I really enjoyed having them around. You should feel really good about how they represent your company.”

— Jessica Dodson

“MB Jessee painters are stellar! As a designer I've worked with numerous companies over the years, and MB Jessee is a top-notch firm. From the first phone call to the final clean up, every person is courteous, professional, and hard working. The owner, Matt, is a charitable leader who has instilled his team with integrity and honesty providing the customer with a first class experience at a fair price with a paint job that is guaranteed to last. I highly recommend MB Jessee. Thank you Matt and your STAR crew-Daniel, Rigoberto, Vicente, Edy, Pedro, and Mario, for a job well executed! Cynthia Brian, ASID, Starstyle® Productions, llc”

— Cynthia Brian
Morgan, CA

“I want to express my thanks for a job well done. The rooms look great and there is no problem with any marks on the all the trim, floor, carpet, etc. The paint job is lovely. I also want to express my thanks for the level of professionalism the foreman showed in running the job. He was very attentive to any changes I needed to make, was extremely careful in getting the faux paint color and effect correct. Thanks so much for a job well done.”

— Suzan D’Arcy