Safe Paints

Oh Lord, don’t get me started.  I feel like I need degrees in medicine, chemistry and engineering just to go to the store and buy products.  Let me just say that I think capitalism is a great system and I respect thinkers and innovators and I think they should be compensated for their ideas.  That being said, I don’t trust corporations.  I think they consistently put profits ahead of public safety.  So that puts our safety in our own hands.  And since most of us are not biologists or chemists it can be overwhelming.  I’m hoping this blog will demystify these issues and make us better consumers and maybe activists along the way.

Now to paint.  Last year I wanted to paint my living room.  As I am wont to do, I set about researching information on low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds*) and no VOC paints.  Though many companies are now coming out with low and no VOC paints, reviews are few and difficult to find.  After reading everything I could, I came up with two choices; AMF Safecoat and Sherwin-Williams Harmony.

AMF Safecoat

This product had nothing but rave reviews.  It was described as durable with good coverage and easy to apply.  This is also one of the only no VOC paints that also has no VOC tints.  It is an excellent paint.  I love that it is completely no VOC and I used it in my Living Room/Dining Room which are the highest traffic rooms in my house.  It’s been on the walls for a year now.  It’s held up very well and is easy to clean.  Safecoat also makes clear finishes for floors and cabinetry that are very low VOC. The cons of the AMF Safecoat are the cost (about $50/gallon) and finding a store that sells it.  I bought mine at Green Depot in Newark, NJ.  To find other vendors of AMF Safecoat click here.

Sherwin-Williams Harmony

I have been extremely happy with this paint.  I used it in my son’s playroom.  I love their color selection.  They have a Harmony primer that offers excellent coverage.  I used magnetic paint in my son’s playroom and two coats of the Harmony eg-shel covered it.  I thought it was wonderful to work with.  The cost is around $36/gallon though I signed up to be a Sherwin-William preferred customer and I get discounts in the mail a few times a year.  This paint has a lot of pros; great color selection, lots of store locations, easy to use and easy to clean up, nice coverage and nice finish.  The only con for me is that the tints to add small amounts of VOCs so the paint goes from no VOC to low VOC.  My husband, who is a builder, says they Sherwin-Williams is coming out with no VOC tints but I couldn’t find anything published about that.  I will keep you posted.

* “VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.

Known health effects of VOCs are Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.”  This information came from the Environmental Protection Agency and the full article can be found here.