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What are Eco Friendly Paints?

What are Eco Friendly Paints?

Terms like “eco-friendly”, “fair-trade”, and “green”, are popping up everywhere these days, making it sometimes difficult to discern what exactly is being said when we encounter them proudly emblazoned on the packaging of various products (e.g. “Eco-friendly Edible Shoe Cream”). 

As a painting company, the terms remain mysterious to us on many products—but when it comes to paint, we’re happy to clear the air. It can be helpful to first say what it isn’t. The first clue comes immediately after opening a can of paint. Normal or VOC paint will have a familiar strong sharp paint smell. Many people enjoy this smell. Eco friendly paint is much milder in smell, and has little of the characteristic “fresh paint” smell that people generally expect. 

VOC Paint

Conventional paint, normally referred to as VOC  paint (volatile organic compound), is made up of a creamy amalgam of plasticizers, adhesives, hardeners, pigments, biocides, drying accelerators, and solvents.   The volatile organic compounds in the paint work as a solvent to hold all of the different elements in place as the paint dries. If not given proper time to dry, set, and air-out, the volatile organic compounds can be unhealthy to breathe in. For this reason, it’s always wise to give VOC paint plenty of time to dry. 

Low VOC Paint

Though the national EPA regulation has said that indoor paint must contain less than 250 VOC grams per liter of paint, San Francisco and other communities, have tightened the regulations further to 50 grams or less. Certainly These paints are more eco-friendly, but they should not be understood as eco-friendly in the proper sense of term.  

Certified Green Paint and Natural Paint

Paints are available that have no VOC traces at all, meaning that they are 100% free of VOC colorants, vinyls, plasciticers, and toxic biocides. Green organizations such as Green Seal, Greenguard and Ecolabel test paints, and you recognize truly eco-friendly paints by the certified green seal on the product.  Some of these eco-friendly paints—namely, Casein paints--are made of milk proteins, lime, and non toxic pigments.  Dating back to the 18th and 19th century, they come in a powder form that must be mixed with water before application. Though Casein paints are great for the environment, they are not without their practical drawbacks. The variety in color is significantly limited compared to VOC paint, and the paint itself is not nearly as durable. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact MB Jessee with any questions you may have related to your eco-friendly painting options.  We will be happy to guide you through the process of finding out what eco-friendly option best suits both your aesthetic and performance needs!

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