What is VOC Paint?

One of the most popular and cost effective ways to upgrade your home is to apply a new coat of paint. Whether giving your walls a fresh, clean look by reapplying the same colour, or doing a complete remodel with a new shade, painting the interior or exterior of your home is a great way to renovate your place.

With all the brands, types, and colours, it can be difficult to choose the right paint for your space. Chances are, if you have been looking at paint, you have seen VOC written somewhere on the label. But what does VOC mean and why is it important when you are looking for the right type of paint for your home?

At Prestige Painting & Contracting, we will answer all your questions below so you are fully informed when it comes to choosing interior or exterior paint for your next home remodel project.

Exposure to VOC Paint

VOC in paint or Volatile Organic Compounds are chemicals that are added to all solvent-based and some water-based paint to increase its lifespan, reduce spoilage times, and improve the paint’s flow from the can to your walls. Once the paint is applied to your surface, the VOC levels evaporate into the air, leaving just paint on your home’s surfaces.

VOCs are harmful chemicals that can cause several chronic and even serious medical conditions including fatigue, nausea and vomiting, throat irritations, nose bleeds, blurred vision, dizziness, headaches, chronic respiratory conditions, immune disorders, memory loss, allergic reactions, liver damage, central nervous system disorders, auto immune disorders, and certain cancers. Because the organic chemicals are considered harmful, Canada has strict VOC in paint regulations to protect people from getting sick.

Exposure to VOC Paint Photo

VOC paint was more common in the 60’s and 70’s when oil-based paints were commonly used. Today, tighter regulations about VOC in paint and an increased variety of paint types have minimized and, in some brands, eliminated the use of VOC in paint.

Low VOC vs Zero VOC

Zero VOC painting

VOC in paint is classified between zero to very high. Most paints today fall under two classifications: low VOC paint and zero or no VOC. If you are wondering what is low VOC paint, it means the brand has a low quantity of volatile organic compounds mixed in it so the paint is considered to be less harmful and more environmentally friendly. In Canada, paint should not exceed 150 grams of VOC in 1 litre of paint.

Zero or VOC free paint has no organic compounds in the mixture. However, zero VOC paint can have other harmful chemicals mixed in so it is important to do your research when choosing the right product for your home.

How Long Does VOC Last After Painting?

Once applied to a surface, the VOCs in paint gradually evaporate into the air. How long this takes depends on the surface material. For most household surfaces, low VOC’s take up to six months to fully evaporate from your painted area. However, some surfaces, like certain types of particle board, can take up to 20 years to fully release all the volatile organic compound gases. When using paint with low VOC concentrations, it is important to ensure your room is well ventilated to remove the chemicals from the air.

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Is Low VOC Paint Safe During Pregnancy?

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Because Volatile Organic Compounds are known to cause a range of health issues, anyone who is pregnant should avoid any exposure to low VOC paint. VOC’s can take six months or longer to evaporate from your walls so it is important to take this into consideration if you are expecting or planning to start a family in the future. If a household member is pregnant, look for VOC free paint for your home remodel projects.

What to Look for When Shopping for Paint

If you are planning to buy paint for your home, look for brands that are clearly labeled as Low VOC or zero VOC. If you are ordering a specific colour, make sure the toners and tints that are used to mix in the paint are also classified as Low VOC paint or VOC free. Per regulations, all paint products must identify VOCs in paint so the information should be clearly marked on the label.

Your paint should also meet all industry, government, and Green Seal standards. Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, strict guidelines are in place regarding manufacturing, selling, and using paint and other productions. VOC paint concentration levels should not exceed 150 grams per litre.

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At Prestige Painting & Contracting, we use only the best brand of paint for interior and exterior painting. Contact us today for your free estimate on your next paint remodel.