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Green Finishes: Interior Paint

August 2nd, 2013 Posted in Green Buildling

A new coat of paint can transform a room with minimal time and money, and in these economic times, who doesn’t like the sound of that?  However, all paints aren’t created equal and some paints are more “green” than others.

According to the EPA, the quality of our indoor air is worse than the quality of outside air.  A big contributor to poor indoor air quality is the off-gassing from paints and finishes.  These gasses, also referred to as volatile organic chemicals, or VOC’s, are released into the air not just at the time of initial application, but also continue to contribute to air pollution for years following.

What is the health conscious “green” homeowner to do?  Specify and use low VOC or no-VOC paints.   With environmental regulations and savvy consumers creating a demand, most paint manufactures carry a low VOC or no-VOC paint line.  These paints and finishes use water as the solvent instead of a petroleum- based product.  Just remember with low VOC paint there may still be an odor upon application, but this will diminish when the paint dries.  To eliminate that initial odor, you will need to use a no-VOC paint.

Other “green” tips to remember when doing a painting project:

  • Be sure to buy the correct amount of paint.  To do this, calculate the total square foot area of the wall to be painted.  This is done by multiplying the height by the length.  Add together all the walls to get your total square footage.  Don’t forget to include the ceiling or any other areas that receive paint.  A gallon of paint usually covers about 400 square feet.
  • To save time, and elbow grease, when painting an on-going project, place the used brush or roller in a plastic bag between uses.  Make sure to squeeze out all the air bubbles in the bag then secure the end with a rubber band or tape.  Since no air can get into the bag the paint won’t dry out and will be ready to use when you continue with the job.  If cleaning the brush after use, be cautious of rinsing the paint in the sink, especially if you have a septic tank.
  • Be careful of lead paint if working or living in a house older than the 1970’s.  Lead can cause health and development issues if consumed or inhaled.  If the lead paint on a wall is in good shape, you can paint over it without any trouble.  However, if you need to repair or replace it, call a professional to take care of the job for you.  We can recommend a few for you if in doubt.
  • Leftover cans of paint should never be disposed of down the drain as it ends up polluting our groundwater.  Remember to keep some paint in a clearly labeled can for touch-ups later.  Store the can upside down to eliminate any air from getting inside the can and it should last for quite a while.   Donate leftover cans of paint to community organizations or your neighbor for a project.  You can also allow the paint to dry in the can and dispose of as solid waste.

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