Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a by product of the manufacture and use of many products, including paints, primers, and varnishes. Many coatings will continue to emit VOCs for years after application, which can diminish indoor air quality.
Low VOC coatings use water as a carrier instead of oil-based solvents, resulting in lower levels of harmful emissions. Certified coatings also contain no, or very low levels, of heavy metals and formaldehyde. The amount of VOC’s varies among different “low-VOC” products. Low VOC paints will still emit an odor until dry.

Benefits of Low-VOC Paints:

  • Less irritating odors
  • Fewer harmful emissions
  • Improved indoor air quality
  • Less need to vacate the home

Low VOC Paints

Until very recently, latex paints were used almost exclusively for walls and ceilings, and oil paints were used for doors, trims, and woodwork. Latex paints– which are water based– have been less durable. Oil paints, while more durable, emit unpleasant odors and require the use of mineral spirits for clean up.

However, because of government regulations and consumer concerns, paint manufacturers have begun developing more durable interior latex paints. A new generation of latex paints are now being produced, and these paints are nearly are durable as oil paints.

The result is a quick drying paint which levels well, cleans up with water, and can stand up to wear and tear. Perhaps more importantly, these new products are lower in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and therefore emit fewer harmful and irritating fumes.

In addition, latex paints do not yellow. Because of the nature of their composition, oil base paints (particularly whites and off-whites) begin yellowing almost the moment they are applied. Not only does this result in a gradual discoloration of the paint film, it makes touch-up increasingly difficult as time passes.

One benefit of these new latex paints is that the painter can work in an area until the end of the working day, and that area will still be accessible and usable to the homeowner within a few hours of cleanup. For homeowners with young children (who may be tempted to see if the paint really is wet) this eliminates one potential problem. The greatly reduced odors means that our painters need not totally disrupt a family’s lifestyle while a project is being completed.

Philpaint has been offering low VOC products for years on our interior painting projects.