Reply
Contributor
vincech
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎08-31-2012
0

Paint: regular vs. low/zero-VOC, does it matter?

Hello,

I'm shopping for paint at HomeDepot, and found different "VOC" (volatile organic chemicals) levels on paint. I'm wondering, if VOC is really a concern, why does California still allow it to be sold? Or is it another marketing gimmick? Seems that the brands that don't claim "low/zero VOC" are sold at similar price range. Or is this a tradeoff between VOC and how well they look or how long they'll stay on the wall?

By the way, I was told that the color they mix into the base contains VOC anyway, so "zero VOC" doesn't exist. But maybe the lower the better?

Thanks.

Platinum Super Contributor
buyinghouse
Posts: 5,879
Registered: ‎04-23-2011
0

Re: Paint: regular vs. low/zero-VOC, does it matter?

vincech wrote:

Hello,

I'm shopping for paint at HomeDepot, and found different "VOC" (volatile organic chemicals) levels on paint. I'm wondering, if VOC is really a concern, why does California still allow it to be sold? Or is it another marketing gimmick? Seems that the brands that don't claim "low/zero VOC" are sold at similar price range. Or is this a tradeoff between VOC and how well they look or how long they'll stay on the wall?

By the way, I was told that the color they mix into the base contains VOC anyway, so "zero VOC" doesn't exist. But maybe the lower the better?

Thanks.


 VOC is just another gimmick to satisfy the people who hate or get sick if they smell any chemicals after painting a wall. I've heard some people with asthma get an allergy reaction to the chemicals. So, there is your answer, is about smelling.

 

   Of course, when you paint during the summer season, the lower the odor, the better. I "went to sleep" once while painting a bathroom with oil base when the temperature inside was like 100º+. The owner of the house found me "sleeping", you know, I felt dizzy, tired so I took a nap......:smileyvery-happy:
    If you live in San Jose, glad to give you some advice.  

 

 

Contributor
vincech
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎08-31-2012
0

Re: Paint: regular vs. low/zero-VOC, does it matter?

Hi buyinghouse,

Thanks for your input. You mentioned the paint inhalation did make you dizzy. Could that be harmful if inhaled 24/7? When painting a house, we only get exposed to the smell or chemical particles for a few days. But then living there is daily basis.  

Platinum Regular Contributor
tjh
Posts: 4,946
Registered: ‎01-09-2010
0

Re: Paint: regular vs. low/zero-VOC, does it matter?

All paints outgas VOCs when drying (evaporating).  They aren't something added.  CA sets a limit for the quantity of VOCs that a paint gives off in the drying process.

 

Other items used in our daily lives also give of VOCs like cleaning solutions.

 

VOCs include many compounds that may have health effects, thus, the amount of VOCs in products is now regulated.  This was considered especially important due to the fact that many of the products that gave of VOCs were used indoors, where the exposure would be potentially greater.

 

I know of no reliable information that indicates that the new paint formulations with reduced VOCs are of a different quality.  However, there is a lot of chatter, urban legend, etc., out there that good old fashioned, high VOC oil based paints are "better". Enough so that some people actually cross state lines to purchase oil based paints.

 

Platinum Super Contributor
buyinghouse
Posts: 5,879
Registered: ‎04-23-2011
0

Re: Paint: regular vs. low/zero-VOC, does it matter?


vincech wrote:

Hi buyinghouse,

Thanks for your input. You mentioned the paint inhalation did make you dizzy. Could that be harmful if inhaled 24/7? When painting a house, we only get exposed to the smell or chemical particles for a few days. But then living there is daily basis.  


  Why do you think some people see painters as "drunks"? I know a guy whom I work with. Man, he would act as if he was on hang over. I was told by another painter friend of his, that he was an oil base paint lover. By safety reasons you need to use a respirator of some sorts to avoid inhaling the fumes but he never did, neither with shellac which is another bad thing.

  Eventually the smell goes away, tjh explains it better. I used to use oil base primer on cedar, redwood, even pine to block the stains they produce but lately, I just go to Lowe's/Home Cheapo where they have this self primer paint. You save the first coat of primer and 2 of finish. You reduce your costs to half.  

 

  If you don't have any allergy suffering people you shouldn't worry about it. I even doubt it they get sick with that smell, but who knows.

Super Contributor
Curmudgeon
Posts: 265
Registered: ‎06-14-2012
0

Re: Paint: regular vs. low/zero-VOC, does it matter?

I look at the low-VOC rules with the following mindset.  If you force a manufacturer to significantly change their manufacturing process/components (for external reasons such as new regulations), several things may happen:  1) they may figure out the minimal changes to their process to meet the new regs, and largely "hope for the best" with the resulting product   2) they may do #1, but test and tweak to try to get the best results they can from the new process   3) they may get stirred of their butts and actually invest in good R&D - which may in fact eventually lead to a better new product than the old.  I think all three tend to happen to some degree.

 

I don't do much painting, but my impression is:

 

low-VOC interior oil paints take forever to dry, but still work fairly well

 

low-VOC interior latex paints are just fine

 

low-VOC exterior paints, both latex and enamel, are more unknown (at least to me).  This is by far the most demanding paint environment, and typically it takes a lot of long-term testing to prove whether you got it right. 

Platinum Trusted Contributor
elt1
Posts: 5,030
Registered: ‎01-04-2010
0

Re: Paint: regular vs. low/zero-VOC, does it matter?

Paints are getting better. But for years Ca standards made our paint inferior. I would buy cabinets from out of state because the paint or varnish finish would last much longer.. Exterior paints last only 5-10 years.. The old lead based stuff would last forever..

Platinum Super Contributor
buyinghouse
Posts: 5,879
Registered: ‎04-23-2011
0

Re: Paint: regular vs. low/zero-VOC, does it matter?

 Just paint it!

Gold Contributor
mediaguru
Posts: 1,896
Registered: ‎03-03-2011
0

Re: Paint: regular vs. low/zero-VOC, does it matter?


buyinghouse wrote:

 Why do you think some people see painters as "drunks"? 

You can literally get drunk from some paints -- in particular, I am talking about the alcohol-based paints.

The primer I used was B-I-N, which is an alchohol-based shellac (used because I was painting over existing wallpaper in some areas and needed something quick-drying and not water-based)... I did end up getting a bit dizzy, despite working quickly and having all windows open for cross-ventilation... I actually felt like I had a hangover the next day.  

From what I ended up reading, you can actually inhale enough alcohol to get dangerous BAC...

Platinum Regular Contributor
tjh
Posts: 4,946
Registered: ‎01-09-2010
0

Re: Paint: regular vs. low/zero-VOC, does it matter?

I've always thought that shellac, lacquers and varnishes were pretty interesting stuff.  Maybe that's because, until we synthesized them in the last 100 years or so, they were derived from natural sources.  You might be eating one of them as you read this!

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellac

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacquer

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varnish

 

You can see where the VOCs come from.  Their in the solvents and drying agents in each of these.