Eco-chic paint

Today’s wall coatings offer style with fewer harmful emissions

Eco-chic paint

Source: Best Health Magazine, Spring 2008; Photo: Christopher Stevenson

As the outdoor environment wakes up this spring, you may be thinking about refreshing your indoor surroundings, too. If it’s time for a fresh coat of paint, consider your options. More paints are being introduced that are better for your health, the environment or both.

Paints labelled ‘eco-friendly’ are generally manufactured to contain fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than regular coatings’or none at all. They may also be made from recycled paint or from natural in­gredi­ents, such as vegetable dyes and minerals.

VOCs are a diverse family of chemicals, often used in building materials, that are released into the atmos­phere in a process known as ‘off-gassing.’ Concentrations have been found to be up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors. Although some VOCs are known toxins, the science is inconclusive about others, and about the health effects of VOC levels in the home (which are typically low). Still, Health Canada advises protecting the air you breathe by choosing low-emission products whenever possible.

For most low-VOC paint lines, the quality, cost and colour options are comparable to traditional paints, making them an attractive alternative. When buying an interior paint, look for products containing 50 grams or less per litre of VOCs for a flat paint (150 grams or less per litre for a non-flat). Another indication that the paint has met high performance and tight emissions standards is the EcoLogo seal, launched by the federal government, or a similar eco-certification program such as Green Seal.

Shades of green
Most of these low-VOC paints can be custom tinted to suit your decorating needs. Here are a few of the manufacturers’ great hues for spring:

Clean Green’Sherwin-Williams Harmony ($40-$45, 3.78 L)
Petal .03′Yolo Colorhouse ($45, 1 gallon). Visit the site for retailers or to order directly
Violet Sage’Sico Cashmere, Chamois and Shantung ($48-50, 3.78 L)
Spice Orange’CIL Dulux Natural Whites ($32, 3.78 L)
Exhale’Benjamin Moore Aura ($65, 3.78 L)

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