Get the perfect colour and great coverage, while safeguarding your health and the planet.
Natural, organic, green and eco-friendly are all terms used by paint companies to describe their formulas, so understanding what makes one brand greener than another can be tricky. To reduce the possibility of indoor air pollution, choose a low-VOC (volatile organic compound) formula.
VOCs are the gases from solvents in some paint formulas that are released into the air as the paint dries. The level of VOCs has decreased dramatically over the past decade and is regulated by the EU. But many companies go one step further and produce environmentally friendly ranges for every application.
In general, water-based formulas tend to have a minimal-VOC content of less than 0.2 per cent. Many brands have adopted the UK’s VOC-labelling system, which shows the level of VOCs emitted in one of 5 categories: minimal, low, medium, high and very high. The European Ecolabel flower accreditation is another reliable indicator of low-level VOCs.
Low-VOC paint is virtually odourless, tends to dry quickly and provides good coverage. However, this doesn’t mean that all low-VOC formulas are environmentally-friendly, as some contain vinyl and chemical pigments. Ask your retailer or do your own research into how the paint you’re considering is made.
If you need to remove old paint finishes before applying a fresh coat, it’s a good idea to choose a minimal-VOC, water-based strippe. It requires more work than standard chemical strippers but is less polluting and safe to use around children and pets.
Image: Little Greene
From the earth
Natural paints are made from water, chalk and clay, with plant dyes used for colouring. Clay paints have a thick consistency and cover well in one or two coats, while chalky types have a flat, matt finish. Manufacturers include Auro, Edward Bulmer Natural Paint and Earthborn, and every tin features an ingredients list so you can be sure of what you are buying.
There is no plastic, including microplastics, in natural paint, and it doesn’t contain or release chemical toxins. Ingredients are renewable, meaning the paint is carbonneutral. These formulas are also breathable, preventing moisture being trapped within the surface, which makes them an especially good choice for period renovations
Choosing the right paint
Find a list of paint brands with paints labelled as eco, no VOC or low VOC below:
- Little Greene
- Farrow & Ball
- Dowsing and Reynolds
Will you be opting for eco-friendly paint for your project? Let us know by tweeting us @granddesigns or posting a comment on our Facebook page.