Being green has never been so colourful now that there's a zero-VOC paint in a rainbow of hues.
VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are solvents that get released into the air as paint dries. Exposure to high amounts can pose health hazards, which is why, by the end of 2010, Canadian law will regulate the VOC content in paint.
Fifteen years ago, Benjamin Moore introduced its first zero-VOC paint, an environmental milestone even though the palette was restricted to pale colours.
Now the company has developed a technology yielding a VOC-free formulation regardless of the colour. The new line, Natura, is making its own history because it's rare to have a truly zero-VOC paint available in limitless colour choices.
There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about zero-VOC paint. Here are a few:
• Myth: Low and zero-VOC paint means a limited colour palette to choose from.
• Fact: While true in most cases, Natura is an exception. It is unaffected by the addition of colourant because the paint is based on a patented waterborne colourant system. The line is available in all of the 1,800 colors Benjamin Moore offers plus it can be custom colour-matched and still be zero-VOC.
• Myth: All zero-VOC paints are the same.
• Fact: False. Some paint claims to be VOC-free, and in its pure white formulation, it is. But, when you ask the paint store for a colour, that's where and when colourant is “mixed” or added in. The colourant is a culprit, adding VOCs. The deeper and more saturated the colour, the more colourant needed and, obviously, the more VOCs. In comparison testing, it was found that Natura releases fewer total volatile compounds than other top-selling zero-VOC paints. There are some paints that are legitimately zero-VOC due to the use of dry pigments for colourant. But, the colour performance of these types of paints is compromised because the dry ingredient doesn't disperse well in the wet paint. It reduces colour fidelity.
• Myth: Zero-VOC paint is difficult to use.
• Fact: The new paint line promises easy application, excellent hide and outstanding durability. It dries fast and is virtually odourless. And, it is highly washable, as well, within days after it's been applied.