Posted by: A Part of the Solution | February 11, 2010

Low VOC Paint

When I was readying my house for sale in Takoma Park, I insisted on doing an eco-friendly renovation. I used Marmoleum Click to re-do the kitchen floor, and Energy Star rated appliances (Kenmore, since I’m necessarily cost conscious) right through the kitchen.

I had nearly every room repainted, since I’d gone hog-wild with color and design throughout–and I didn’t expect anyone else to want to live in my Gothic living room or fairy tale office or flower fantasy bedroom. And of course I insisted on low VOC paint.

What I found to use, a couple of years ago now, was Fresh Aire from Home Depot. The colors in the line are limited, but they are touted as being low VOC–a lot of lines have a low VOC count on the base paints, and heavy numbers added with the tints.

I used that same line of paint when I was prepping a friend’s place before putting it on sale. And I have to say, as I was doing the painting myself that time, the Fresh Aire takes two coats to give any real coverage over color of any kind, and the semi-gloss has a tendency to pull up patchily. Did I clean the trim and baseboards before I painted? You bet I did, but that stuff still wasn’t eager to stay where I’d put it. So I don’t give raves to Fresh Aire for anything except it’s very low VOC content.

Now I’m painting again. Parts of the house need repainting in the worst way. The lovely older couple who lived here before us had a large enough family coming at school breaks and for holidays that they kept a number of rooms for use only by guests. Those don’t really need much more work than having their trim freshened up. But the heavy use common rooms (the living room and family room) and their former bedroom all need a thorough patching and painting.

I joined Consumer Reports and looked carefully at the ratings and recommendations on low VOC paints. They agree with me about Fresh Aire. It wasn’t highly rated in any finish. Now that we’re forty miles or more (each way) from Sears, Lowe’s and Home Depot, the Walmart has become our new go-to shopping mecca as it’s just up the road at only fifteen miles. So I was worried about finding a relatively healthy paint that would still be sturdy enough to be cleaned frequently and was locally available.

Ta-da! Kilz and Dutch Boy are both affordable, highly rated and carried by our Walmart. I decided to go with Kilz. And since I’m in hospitality now, the colors I’m choosing are light and soothing. I want them to complement the amazing art on the walls and the incredible views out the windows. And they’re supposed to do a great job in one coat. I’ll be reporting back on whether I’m still as happy with my choice after I’ve seen the stuff dry and in use.

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