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Low and Zero VOC Paints

When I first started using water based paints it wasn’t because I wanted to go eco friendly, it was because I hated oil paint and wanted to try something different.
There is definitely a market for earth freindly paints now though with a lot of customers now specifically asking for them.
A lot of UK painters just don’t want to know though, prefering to stay with oil paints for trim. Not saying they’re wrong, but I wouldn’t use them anymore. To much hassle with drying times and yellowing for me with the new formulations.
I am still sceptical about the reformulation of oil paints because the way I see it is I’ll still put more pollution in the atmosphere driving 30 miles to work once than I will using 10 gallons of oil paint a year. But I suppose we have to start somewhere.

Mythic is the only true zero VOC paint I’ve used and I’d have to say everyone, myself included, has been very happy with the results. I also like Dulux Ecosure Gloss and Johnstone’s Acrylic Satin. I wouldn’t use any of them without a paint additive/conditioner to hand though. Floetrol is good, Zamix is better.
I always use an adhesion promoting primer with them though because if the paint doesn’t adhere you’re in for big problems. Mythic, Zinsser 123 and Joncryl are the ones I use the most. Mythic has by far the best opacity but if you’re on a budget the Joncryl does a fine job for not much money.
If I’m spraying the primer it would be Joncryl every time because it’s more economical.

Good information again thanks Ron.

I think the eco / pollution aspect of paint is a very tricky one to decipher. I believe just 2% of global VOCs come from the paint industry, so even if every manufacturer was like Mythic, there isn’t a lot of scope to make much of a dent on the overall eco issues. Having said that, there must be a lot of localised off-gassing from paint inside the home, so what pollution there is from that 2% could have a greater impact than the 2% number would suggest?

Probably best to leave it there, and wait for the environmental scientists to lay out the facts and confuse us even more!

Have to agree with you Ron on the Mythic, not tried the Johnno’s yet but have recently been using the Ecosure gloss on two full house re decs and the customers and myself have been impressed with the results!

Talking of VOC “free” paints.

What about the paints from Holkham, in there colour card, they say “Our paint’s are made from 100% pure, cold pressed Linseed Oil and natural pigment. They contain no solvents and VOC’s are virtually non existent”

I think, that the biggest culprit on the VOC front, is the use of White Spirit and Turps sub’s, a lot is used for cleaning, and then the problem is also of disposal, but the other side of this coin, is the amount of water used in clean up of water based paint’s.

How do we win?

Just a quick word from an Environmental Scientist - it is very, very difficult to say what’s ‘eco-friendly’ and what’s not as there are so many issues, and many are not comparable. For instance, is there less environmental impact in washing out a 14" roller or throwing it away? One certainly uses a lot of water, and energy, washing it out, then that water needs treating. But throwing it away means it needs disposing of, and another one needs manufacturing and transporting to you…

Is it better to use a high VOC paint that is made a few miles from you, or a low VOC paint that’s transported half way around the world to you?

I could write an entire book on this, but the amount of research would be horrendous - a full-time job for at least two years.

Sometimes you have to look at singular issues - are VOCs harmful to the environment and health? Well, yes, everything is harmful in large enough quantities, and nothing is harmful in small enough quantities - but long-term exposure to significant amounts of certain VOCs are definitely harmful to health, some are carcinogenic for instance. Some VOC’s can also react with nitrogen in the air in a chain reaction to produce ground-level ozone, which is toxic to animals and plants. So, generally, the lower the VOCs we are exposed to, the better for the decorator’s health, the customer’s health, and the local environment’s health. Some VOCs are also potent greenhouse gases.

One also has to look at the ‘cradle to grave’ impact of products - from their initial production, transportation, use and disposal. Doing that for one product is a big task - doing it for the thousands of decorative coatings and equipment is mammoth!

I could go on…

Thanks Charlie and co for your well informed opinions.

I too like Joncryl primer, one of the best johno’s products, , it’s economical and leaves a good key, dries within one hour and it feels slightly abrasive. , I have also heard good reports for Rubbol BL Primer…it has very good adhesion and levelling qualities. One thing is sure, a very solid and level primer/undercoat is so important when using water based, low VOC products…I found this out the hard way !!