Environmentally friendly paint sparkles

December 04, 2009|From NAPS

Being green has never been so colorful. That's because one paint manufacturer now creates a zero-VOC paint in a rainbow of colors.

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are solvents that get released into the air as paint dries. Manufacturers have been trying to lower these levels ever since they first realized what damage these chemicals could potentially do and, of course, since the government has legislated regulations.

Fifteen years ago, Benjamin Moore introduced its first zero- VOC paint, an environmental milestone even though the palette was restricted to pale colors because adding colorant adds VOCs. Now the company has developed a technology that yields a VOC-free formulation regardless of the color. The new line, Natura, is making its own history because it's rare to have a truly zero-VOC paint available in limitless color choices.

These days, customers can buy conventional zero-VOC paint in base white. But once you request a color and the store starts mixing in the tints, the VOCs are being added, which many customers don't realize. In fact, there are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about zero-VOC paint. Here are a few:


o Myth: Low- and zero-VOC paint means there is only a limited color palette to choose from.

o Fact: While true in most cases, Natura is an exception. It is unaffected by the addition of colorant because the paint is based on a patented waterborne colorant system. The line is available in all of the 3,300 colors that Benjamin Moore offers, plus it can be color matched and still be zero-VOC.

o Myth: All zero-VOC paints are the same.

o Fact: False. Some paint lines claim to be VOC-free, and in its pure white formulation, it is. You go to the paint store and specify the paint in a color. So at the store, where the paint is "mixed," the colorant is added in for you. It's the colorant that's the culprit adding the VOCs. The deeper and more saturated the color, the more colorant needed and, obviously, the more VOCs.

In comparison testing, it was found that Natura releases fewer total volatile organic compounds than other national top-selling zero-VOC paints.

There are some paints that are legitimately zero-VOC due to the use of dry pigments for colorant. But the color performance of these types of paints is compromised because the dry ingredient doesn't disperse well in the wet paint. It reduces color fidelity.

o Myth: Zero-VOC paint is difficult to use.

o Fact: The new paint line promises easy application, excellent hide and outstanding durability. It dries fast and is virtually odorless. And it is highly washable, as well, within days after it's been applied.

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