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Low and no VOC paints

I am preparing to paint most of the interior of our house. It seems the right time to investigate low and no VOC paints, especially for semi-gloss trim paint. From what I have read, it's not clear to me how they compare in performance to "regular" paint. This is not an allergy or sensitivity issue for us. Any experience, thoughts, ratings, websites not related to the paint companies?

Re: Low and no VOC paints


Consumers Reports is about as good a review as any, however, to gain access to all their reports you have to subscribe to their service. It is available online.

Home Depot handles the Fresh Air line of paints by Glidden. It is no VOC. They accomplish this by not tinting with universal colors, but by tinting via dry color packets added to the paint.
I have gotten positive feed back on this product as to how it covers and works. Also, many people love their color palette although it is somewhat limited. Fresh Air does bring a cost premium though.

In later years, the Feds have taken much of the VOC's out of both latex and oil paints. Many painters have countered the degrading of the workability of oil paints by adding the solvents and Penetrol back in! Many latex paints advertise themselves as no VOC, but the hooker is that the universal colorants in the mixing machines are loaded with VOC's.

In short, unless you have to avoid the VOC's for allergy reasons or you are just your generic "tree hugger", I wouldn't bother with them.

I am still biased towards oil paints for fine woodwork. It flows out better leaving less brush marks and dries to a hard ,durable surface. Both oil paints and lacquers can be sprayed to give a furniture like finish. Latexes can be sprayed to give a fine looking finish too, but even a professional can only give a passible result when brushing it.

Re: Low and no VOC paints


Re: Low and no VOC paints


Yes, you have used low VOC paints in later years, The Federal Government has mandated that! The odors that are in many paints are not neccessarily coming from the VOC's. Also, as stated, unless your paint manufacturer is using dry tinting pigments or colorants in a water solution, you are probably still getting VOC's. Universal colorants are loaded with volatiles, its liquid base being similar to automotive anti-freeze. As to off gasing, they are called "volatils" for a purpose. They are volatile and flash to the atmosphere, the great majority disappearing by the time the paint has dried and cured overnight.

As stated also, these low VOC paints carry a signicant premium cost wise. It is your choice, but my advice to "ajznn" still stands.

Re: Low and no VOC paints

Hi Guys,

We're a C2 retailer.

Their new "LOVO" (Low VOC) line is well-received here.
The C2 Premium & LOVO series are in the low-to-mid-$40's/gal.
VOC's are in the 0-50g/L range, so legally it can be labled as "Low VOC".

Per their senior chemist..."VOC's and a paints perceived odor have nothing to do with each other".

With the new higher-end paints, the resins start setting-up pretty quickly! Your "brush-out" time is literally 1 min. or less. This can be increased with a new additive by XIM called Latex X-tender.
* This is a no-voc additive.
* It doesn't affect the color like Floetrol can, & you don't need as much of it.
* It may beneficial for use on woodwork, etc., since it helps the paint "level" better.
* A working-time of 10 minutes isn't unheard of!


A. Spruce
Re: Low and no VOC paints

Without stepping onto a soapbox, are you equally concerned about your carpets, drapes, and upholsteries as you are about VOC in paints? Do you use Teflon cookware? Do you realize that Teflon releases it's chemical components not only to the air but into the food that is cooking in it? Do you use plastic water bottles, soda bottles, etc? The plastic generally used in these items is of the highest off-gassing type, again, releasing it's chemical composition into whatever is stored in them. Do you have a cabinet with Tupperware or other plastic storage containers? Ever open the doors and notice that "plastic" odor? What do you think that is, or where those gases go when you put food in the container?

The point is, there are far more things within your daily environment that are equally, if not more, toxic than the VOC levels in most paints.

Re: Low and no VOC paints

I fear this conversation is veering away from my intended question.

Can anyone speak to the performance of low/no VOC paints as compared to regular paints? By which I mean coverage, ease of use, visible brush strokes, sagging, variable sheen, drying time, etc.

I have visited Consumer Reports. VOC level was not one of their descriptors and not all paints were tested, so it's a bit hard to tease out a comparison. I have found only anecdotal information elsewhere.

Re: Low and no VOC paints

Hey AZ!

I was alluding those points in my notes, but maybe not in a direct-enough fashion! ...sorry!

The new class of "Lower-VOC" paints, like every new product, will have some winners & losers...
They just haven't been around long enough to have long-run data/experiences.
Resin-blends & other technologies are always changing, so by the time a particular paint gets a reputation, it's probably undergoing a formulation switch! Paint has changed a LOT, especially in the last 10 years.

The peformance-factors you note, are variables in ANY line of paint, from "conventional" to "Low-VOC". If you stay in the high-grades of EITHER type, YOU'LL GET GOOD PAINT.

As you've probably noticed, the new grades "ain't cheap"!!
* Better paint lines (conventional OR Low-voc) have better "hide" & spreadablity.
* Better paints leave more "Solids" behind, denoted largely by its "Percent Volume Solids".
* Contractor-grade paints have #'s in the upper 20's to mid-30's.
* High-end paints (like C2) have #'s in the upper 30's to low 40's.
* There's much less "Spatter" with top names/grades.
* You'll get more sq. ft./gallon too!

* Since a "Painter's ability", technique, & literally "the brush in their hand" vary so much, this is a tricky issue.
* As I stated, high-solids paints set up quickly.
* The additive I mentioned can help a LOT.

Sheen variation:
* Usually caused by NOT priming, and/or pushing the primer too thin; or just using a CHEAP primer!
* Pushing a paint too thin can add to the problem.
* Using "cheapo" rollers/brushes can make any high-end paint look like crap too!

Dry time:
* Mostly a poor indicator of a paints quality.
* Deep colors will have more dry-time because of a big colorant-load.
* Cure time vs. Dry time...2 VERY different things. Cured-time for latex is usually ONE MONTH.
* Most paints will feel "dry" in a day....are they considered "Cured-out"...Nooooooo.

>>> Bottom-line...
If you're paying more than ~$25/gal., you're in decent paint-grades.
In the $30's & $40's, you're getting the REAL good stuff!!

It's LITERALLY Hyundai & Lexus comparisons here...sure, both will get you from A to B, but come on....which is the better car??!?!


Re: Low and no VOC paints

Ah, very complete advice. I am clearer about your previous post as well. I have painted for several years in NM (extremely low humidity) and so am well accustomed to paint setting up quickly - you get 2 brush strokes, maybe three and that's it! Latex Xtender sounds interesting. I have tried Floetrol.

Re: priming for improved sheen consistency, do you recommend priming every time before changing colors?

Re: Low and no VOC paints


My position on priming is that you are never wrong to prime, however, sometimes it is over kill. If you are going over a high quality paint which is of a low sheen, priming is not particularly neccessary. Indeed, if your painting is meerly to affect a color change, two coats of a full bodied paint will often give the best color coverage, this is because paint generally has a higher percentage of white pigment than primer. It is the white pigment which gives good blanking ability. You can cover almost any color with two coats of a quality white paint. Two coats of very dark colors rarely cover well.

Re: Low and no VOC paints

When it comes to low or no VOC paints they are premium paints as a paint company is not going to put that kind of effort into a low end product. As far as performance once they are on the wall is going to be the same as any other premium interior paint. I would not use an oil based paint as they will be gone in the next year due to the VOC laws and then when it comes time to paint again you will be useing an acrylic paint anyway.


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