There are dozens of things in your home that can affect the quality of the air, the amount of energy used, and how sustainable your home is in general. Many homeowners think of their home’s heating and cooling costs, their air filters, or the energy-efficiency of the windows. But one factor that many homeowners don’t consider is the paint on the walls. House paint isn’t something that we think of a lot because we don’t interact with it like we do the thermostat or the faucets, but the ingredients in your home’s paint can affect the quality of your home’s air.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are gases that come from certain solids or liquids and “include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.” VOCs can be found in paints, wood preservatives, cleansers and disinfectants, air fresheners, dry-cleaned clothing, and thousands of other products. In the case of house paint, VOCs enter the air when it’s first applied, but can also continue to emit these chemicals long after the paint has dried.

The Danger of VOCs

Even though we can’t see them, harmful chemicals, regardless of which product they are emitted from, are scary and can cause real health problems. On the minor end, VOCs can cause issues like skin irritations, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. On the extreme end, VOCs can cause issues with your nervous system, vomiting, and even gene mutation.

As scary as this sounds, the good news is that there are several eco-friendly and safe house paints available on the market. Just like you would look for an Energy Star label on your appliances, you can look for a Green Seal, which is an independent product certification agency who certifies products based on strict criteria for human health, reduced environmental impact, and excellent performance.

Low-VOC House Paints

House paints that are considered to be low VOC should contain no more than 50 grams per litre of VOCs. Each paint manufacturer is different, however, so look closely at the label before purchasing. Rather than oil-based paints, which can be highly toxic, low-VOC paints are latex- or water-based. They will still produce that recognizable fresh paint smell when first applied, and low-VOC paints will still emit chemicals after the paint has dried, but it will be far less than oil-based paint. With paints that are low in VOCs, there may be a limited number of colour options available, so if you’re looking for a wide range of colours to choose from, look for low-VOC paints rather than zero-VOC or natural paint.

Zero-VOC House Paint

Even if you see a label that boasts zero-VOC, there’s a good chance the paint still contains some amount of VOCs. To be considered zero-VOC, a paint must have fewer than 5 grams per litre. But zero-VOC or even low-VOC is still a significant improvement over paints that are full-VOC. If a single room requires three gallons of paint, a full-VOC paint will release 10 pounds of VOCs into the air. If you have issues with allergies or have adverse reactions to the strong paint smell, low- or zero-VOC paints can make a significant difference.

Natural House Paints

If you truly want to go 100% eco-friendly and use a paint without any VOCs or harmful chemicals, look for natural house paints. Even though these paints are more expensive, they are made with natural ingredients and the smell when applied causes much less irritation, if any at all. Ingredients used to make natural paint include water, plant dyes, essential oils, resins, clay, chalk, milk casein, and bees’ wax. Similar to low- and zero-VOC paints, natural house paints will have a limited range of colours to choose from, but if you’re concerned about chemicals in your home, a limited colour choice is a small price to pay.

If you’re considering updating the colour of your interior and have struggled with allergies in the past, or simply want to know that your home is as eco-friendly and healthy as possible, choosing a low- or zero-VOC or natural paint can make a significant improvement.

Choose Integrity Painting For Your Interior and Exterior House Painting

Whatever type of paint or colour you choose, be sure to work with a house painter who has the experience and skill necessary to complete the project on time, within budget, and with beautiful execution. House painting can be a tedious and time-consuming job, and the dangers of spilling or splattering paint on your belongings is one that many homeowners are at risk of when they don’t have the proper tools or experience.

At Integrity Painting in Winnipeg, we have been providing our clients with exceptional service since 1992. Driven by honesty, transparency, and dedication, we take pride in every stroke of paint that goes on your home’s walls. Whether you’re looking to paint your whole home, interior and exterior, or just want professional painters to freshen up your kitchen, the contractors at Integrity Painting can do it all. Schedule your free estimate with us today.