Thursday, April 29, 2010

No/Low VOC Paints

Anyone else have a painting project you've been kicking around?  Other than every piece of trim in my kitchen desperately needing a fresh coat of paint, I have a furniture project giving me the stink eye every time I walk past it.  It's a set of bookcases we got from a tag sale that need a charming/Pottery Barn vibe.  I saw a how-to on The Lettered Cottage and I loved how it came out.  It's going to require some work: trim moldings, some beadboard wallpaper or mirrors, maybe some hinges & cabinet doors, the use of a mitre saw & table saw (I might just be on my own using them - hubby wants nothing to do with my project) plus primer & paint.  Not just any paint though.  I'm not introducing more toxins into my house, thank you very much.  This time I'm going the zero/low VOC (volatile organic chemicals) route.  Why, exactly?


This passage from Ed Begley, Jr.'s book, Living Like Ed, sums it up nicely for me:
"Traditional paint has got all kinds of nasty stuff in it: petrochemicals, solvents, mercury, formaldehyde, benzene, lead, cadmium, chromium, dibutyl, and diethyl phthalate.  This frightening chemical cocktail then releases VOCs into the air.  You might assume that VOCs are only a problem right after you paint, when you can actually smell the new-paint smell when you walk in a room.  But it turns out paints and other finishes release low-level toxic emissions for several years.  And it's definitely not good to be breathing this stuff."  

By the way, I think Ed Begley, Jr. and I would be great friends, and I can forgive the fact that he started a sentence with 'and.'  (I had an English teacher who would have chucked her blackboard eraser at him for doing that.  I hear teachers don't chuck stuff at students anymore.)  He could be my 'over the top' GREEN friend/mentor/boyfriend (just kidding) who makes up for the areas in my life where I don't come up quite so GREEN.



As far as paints go, I've always liked Benjamin Moore.  A painter friend of mine had told us years ago it was her choice, and after painting our family room ceiling probably 6 or more times and having it come out looking awful, we switched and my allegiance to BM was born.  I'm going with their Natura Zero VOC line, first a primer, then a paint in a light color, probably a shade of white to help brighten up a dark hallway.  It dries in 30 minutes so I can finish my project in just 1 day.  BTW, they also have Pottery Barn colors :)



In the Consumer Reports March 2009 issue, there was a review of the no/low VOC paints, and Behr did very well in their tests, but got mixed reviews by actual users on the site I visited.  Sherwin Williams also has a product line called Harmony which is low VOC and got very good reviews.  Interestingly, the tests by Consumer Reports said that at the time, the products they tested all contained some VOCs, despite the  claims they were no or low VOC paints.  In this case, less is more, and I'm OK with that.  At this point, I wouldn't use anything else than a no or low VOC paint for any paint inside my house.  Wish me luck on the project!  I'll let you know how it comes out.  

On a different subject, my Bento Box lunches are a HUGE hit in my son's class!  After his first week of lunches, one little boy asked me if I would make his lunches for him, and today a little girl at lunch addressed me as "Mrs. Perfect-Lunch-Maker!"  This has been our own self-imposed International Week so I've had to get a little creative.  In theory the Asian lunch was great, and it looked amazing, reusable chop sticks and all, but my little guy barely touched it.  Turns out dumplings & rice aren't his thing at lunchtime.  The Italian lunch with a Nutella & banana sandwich was the bomb though :)

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