It happens all the time; a well-intentioned consumer goes to the local paint shop and purchases a zero VOC paint, for twice the cost of conventional paint, and then voids his or her intentions with the shops tint. Half the time, the men and women at the paint store are just as well-intentioned, but they don’t know the difference between tint types.
You see, these days, most paint stores, including Home Depot and Lowes, use automated, software driven tinting machines that also have a compartment to shake paint cans. Those machines cost 50 to 100 thousand dollars. That’s why you see only one of them in there. With 90% of the paint ordered being the conventional type it only makes smart business sense to use conventional tints in those machines. The problem occurs for you, the consumer, when you by a Zero VOC paint from these places. Tints carry a high proportion of Volatile Organic Compounds. So, while you pay up for the expensive, Zero VOC paint, such as $62 for Ben Moore, you ruin your intentions (and the justification for the expense) by adding the only option of tint the store has available. You need to ask about the tint. In most cases, it will be conventional.
To add insult to injury, many of the Zero VOC paints produced by major manufacturers cost more than brands dedicated exclusively to healthy, sustainable paints. Ben Moore makes a terrific performing zero VOC paint, but I sell AFM Safecoat for $48 per gallon; $12 less than Zero VOC Ben Moore paint just a mile down the road. A couple of miles up the road from me you can find Mythic Paint and farther on you can find Yolo Color house paints. Ninety-nine percent of the time, these paints are sold by small shops like mine that use hand-operated tinting machines with Zero VOC tints. These companies also happen to be exclusively dedicated to healthy, sustainable, VOC free paints. They have mastered producing such paints. And of the big name brands, Ben Moore is about the only good performance low VOC. Few of the others have figured out how to do it.
Finally, the term VOC is relative ingredients that cause smog; it has little to do with indoor air quality. Among the big names, it is common to have adverse toxins in the can such as acetone, ammonia, benzene, crystalline silica and formaldehyde precursors. Look for a store selling one of the paint below to get a truly healthy, sustainable paint.
- AFM Safecoat http://www.seacoastgreenovations.com/products/safecoat.aspx
- American Pride
- Ivy Coatings http://www.seacoastgreenovations.com/products/ivy-coatings.aspx
- Yolo Colorhouse
- American Clay Earth Plaster