Choosing a low VOC paint for your family’s health has never been so easy. VOCs or volatile organic compounds, are the unhealthy chemicals within paint.
VOCs have been an essential part of the makeup of paint for decades. New interest from the public in the promotion of a healthy indoor environment has increased manufacturers’ interest in creating new products.
Low VOC paint varieties have become a more available and attractive option in recent years. These products range from low VOC paint to zero VOC paint.
What is Low VOC Paint?
A VOC, volatile organic compound, is a chemical element that solidifies paint. These compounds help transform paint from a liquid to a solid color on the wall.
These chemicals evaporate into the air as you paint in a process called off-gassing. This is why certain paints have a very strong new paint smell. Most of the VOCs evaporate into the air, but not all of them.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency the paint can release VOCs over years and create air pollution inside your home.
Paint VOC Levels Chart
New environmental regulations and consumer interest has led manufacturers to produce paint products with lower quantities of volatile compounds.
Standard VOC levels are set by the federal government of the United States. Paint companies create low VOC and zero VOC levels to comply with the stricter state VOC regulations for paint.
|Less than 250 grams per liter for flat or matte paint.
Less than 380 grams per liter for glossy finishes.
|Low VOC Paint
|Less than 50 grams per liter
|Zero VOC Paint
|Less than 5 grams per liter
Zero/Low VOC Paint vs Regular Paint
Whether you use low VOC paints or traditional paint products for your home is an important decision. There are many factors to consider including durability, cost, and level of chemical sensitivities.
Most low VOC paints are as durable as regular paint. Look for the Green Seal Standards to find low VOC paint that has a standard level of washability, opacity, and scuff resistance. The higher the sheen, the higher the VOC levels but also the more durable it is.
Colorant adds VOCs to both low VOC and regular paint. Unless a company is using a VOC free colorant, any pigment in the paint tinting process will increase the level of VOCs.
Therefore, if you live with someone who has breathing difficulties, it is best to use white paint that has no added colorant.
Some low VOC paints and zero VOC paint will cost more than traditional paints. Also, you will need to paint your room more often. Low VOC paints and zero VOC paints will not last as long as traditional paint.
Traditional paint has toxic chemicals that reduce indoor air quality. VOCs have been linked to dizziness, headaches, higher levels of asthma and allergies.
If you or someone in your family struggles with significant health issues, consider using low VOC or zero VOC paint. Low VOC paint is also a good choice if your paint project is a room for children or the elderly.
The Pros and Cons of Low VOC Paints/Zero VOC Paints
Here are some factors to consider in deciding to use paints with less VOCs or traditional paint.
- Health benefits – Low VOC paint/zero VOC paint improves the air quality in your home.
- Odors – Low VOC paint/zero voc paint do not have as much odor as traditional paint.
- Drying time – Most low VOC paints have a shorter drying time than regular paints.
- Cost– The zero VOC and low VOC paint price is more than for traditional paint.
- Coverage – Low VOC paint/zero VOC paint will not last as long as traditional paint. Therefore, you will need to paint the area more often to maintain a crisp-looking room.
- Toxins – Some low VOC paints contain other harmful toxins beyond VOCs that are harmful for your health. Therefore, it is important to explore each low/zero VOC paint to decide which is best for you.
The Best Low VOC Paint and Zero VOC Paint Options
We have done the research to bring you a list of low VOC and no VOC paint. These include conventional paint brands and natural paints like chalk and milk paint.
This is a zero VOC paint with thousands of color options to consider. It uses a Gennex Color Technology which is a zero VOC colorant.
In addition to its zero VOC formula, it is a one coat paint. It is a paint and primer combination that is 100% acrylic.
This paint comes in four different sheens, matte, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss. It covers 350-400 square feet per gallon and dries to the touch in one hour.
Aura Paint Basics
- 4 sheens: matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss
- Primer and paint combination
- Zero VOC paint
- Dries to the touch in 1 hour, recoat 1 hour
- Mildew resistant
Super Paint with Air Purifying Technology is a water based paint that is also zero VOC and Greenguard Gold Certified.
This paint is unique in that it has odor eliminating technology that breaks down unwanted smells. Also, it is a mold and mildew-resistant paint with over 540 colors.
Super Paint Basics
- 3 sheen options: flat, satin, semi gloss
- 2 sizes: 1 gallon and 5 gallons
- Zero VOC paint
- Odor eliminating capabilities
- Mold and mildew resistant
This is a water based paint with zero VOCs. This particular paint works well in rooms with high moisture like bathrooms and kitchens.
It comes in four different sheens: flat, eggshell, satin, and semi gloss. Each gallon covers around 300 square feet and takes about 2 hours to dry.
Glidden Premium Basics
- 4 sheen options: flat, eggshell, satin, semi gloss
- Drying time 2 hours
- Durable enough to scrub
- Zero VOC paint but colorant will add some VOCs
- Covers 300 square feet per gallon
Valspar signature is a 100% acrylic latex paint that has the added benefit of a paint and primer combination.
It is a low VOC paint that is Greenguard Gold Certified. It has scuff shield protection that stands up to scuffs and stains.
The color of this paint stands up to fading over time. There are four different sheen levels, eggshell, flat, satin, and semi gloss and covers from 200-400 square feet.
Valspar Signature Basics
- 4 available sheens: eggshell, flat, satin, semi gloss
- Covers 200-400 square feet
- Scuff resistant technology
- Low VOC formulation
- Drying time 1 hour, 4 hours to recoat
Ecos Paint is a non VOC paint as well as a non toxic paint. This means that the paint is formulated without the addition of harsh chemicals.
It is a water based paint and covers more per gallon than traditional paint. For example, it covers around 560 square feet to the average 300-400 square feet.
In addition, there are hundreds of color options from which to choose and three sheen options.
Ecos Paint Basics
- 3 sheen options: matte, eggshell, semi gloss
- Covers around 560 square feet per gallon
- Zero VOC paint
- No toxic chemical additives
- Hundreds of color options
Clare paints came onto the scene in 2018 with a pared down style and minimalist aesthetic. It features a zero VOC paint formulation and colorants.
It is Greenguard certified which means that a third party has verified the zero VOC formulation.
In addition, they have low waste packaging and low cost production methods that make them a good choice for people who want a more eco-conscious option.
Clare Paint Basics
- 2 sheen options: eggshell and semi gloss
- Coverage is between 375 – 425 square feet per gallon
- Zero VOC paint
- Eco-friendly option
- Modern color option
- Self priming
The Real Milk Paint Company is a zero VOC paint powder that is made from an organic milk compound. It is a matte paint that works well on many surfaces including wood, concrete, and drywall.
This paint has no odor. Also, it is the right kind of paint if you want to distress furniture for a farmhouse look.
The Real Milk Paint Basics
- 1 sheen available: matte
- Zero VOC paint
- Suitable for many surfaces
- 4 sizes, including a sample size
- Covers 280 square feet per gallon
This is a paint company that is based in the UK with providers across the United States. All of the paints are water based and have low VOC formulations.
It is available in several finishes from very matte to full gloss. The colors are prized for their beauty and connection to history.
It is washable and resistant to scuffs and staining. This paint dries to the touch in 2 hours.
Farrow & Ball Basics
- 6 finish options: dead flat to full gloss
- 3 sizes: 100ml, 2.5 L, 5 L
- Dries to the touch in 2 hours, recoat in 4 hours
- Low VOC paints
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Does low VOC paint make a difference?
Low VOC makes a difference in the air quality inside your home. Because while some VOCs evaporate as you paint, the paint will still off gas for years later. Therefore, by using low VOC or zero VOC paints, you will lessen the quantity of toxins in the home.
What is the standard for low VOC paint?
To be considered a low VOC paint, the VOC level is 250 grams per liter for matte and 380 grams per liter for gloss paints. Some states have more strict levels of VOCs to be considered low VOC paint.
What level of VOC is safe?
The level that is considered safe differs for each person as some people have health problems that make VOCs more problematic. It is known that the pollutants are 2-5 times more inside than outside the home. You can reduce the amount of VOCs inside by using low VOC or no VOC paints, reducing pesticide use, aerosol sprays, and certain cleaners and disinfectants.
Is low VOC paint eco friendly?
VOC paint is not always eco-conscious. However, there are certain paint brands like Clare paints that utilize low waste production and eco-conscious packaging.
Paint companies have made great strides in recent years in developing paints with fewer VOCs.
These paints are more durable and long-lasting than previous formulations. These paints are not right for everyone, but they have more universal application than some people think.
In addition, you can feel good about the health benefits they bring for yourself and your family.