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How to be friendly to the environment when re-decorating and still have a beautiful and long-lasting interior paint job.

How Are Paints Changing?: Paint companies in the US and the world have been working feverishly to come up with the optimal coating to do two main things: minimize the impact on air quality and deliver maximum performance. They are also developing compositions without deadly or carcinogenic components, such as lead, in their paint products. No lead compounds have been used in paint since 1977.

 

Clean Air Act: In 1996, Revisions to the Clean Air Act demanded that paint manufacturers do something about volatile organic compounds (VOC). VOC’s are solvents that help the paint dry quickly, provide a smooth finish, flow easily and promote leveling and curing. They helped control thickness, hardness, and smoothness of a typical application.

 

What’s wrong with VOC’s?: The problem with VOC’s is that when they evaporate, they contribute to the creation of ozone, a common pollutant, and potential safety hazard. The amount of VOC’s in traditional latex paint typically falls between 200 to 300 grams per liter. Traditional solvent-based alkyds may have 400-500 g/L, and clear finishes, varnishes, shellacs, stains, and lacquers are generally in the VOC range of 350-750 g/L.

 

Paint Products to Consider: An few excellent examples of high-quality paint products with low VOC’s are:

  • Sherwin Williams® DurationTM Interior
  • Sherwin Williams® HarmonyTM Interior
  • Sherwin Williams® PrepRiteTM Primers
  • Benjamin Moore NaturaTM
  • California ElementsTM

Regarding performance, generally, as the VOC content goes down, the flowability and dried smoothness reduce and the overall ease of painting goes down. However, scrubability and abrasion resistance are much improved for the paints listed above. Products are improving rapidly and may become what we as painters desire for our customers very soon.

It’s vitally important that you consult with and only hire painters who have taken the time to educate themselves on the laws that recently changed. You as a homeowner can be held responsible if an uncertified product crosses state borders and is opened by a painter on your property. Rest assured the local health departments will be more vigilant than ever in the upcoming season. Expect to see them checking labels for old and non-local (non-conforming) products. Choose your products and painting contractors wisely.

Choosing paint colors for your house painting project can be one of the hardest and most stressful decisions of a home improvement project.  Nobody wants to make a mistake that they will have to live with for years or pay for an expensive re-do.  paintbrush-pallet_94495How many times have you chosen a color thinking it would look one way and then when it is up you realize it looks totally different than you expected?  This sometimes causes people to pick “safe colors” (a.k.a. boring) or to stick with the existing color.  With a little bit of time and planning you can be sure to pick colors you will not only be happy with but actually truly love.

Be Open Minded

You need to be willing to experiment and think outside of the box.  Sometimes color schemes that you would never dream of, actually look fantastic when you see them on a house.  One of the best places to start is by taking a drive around and observing other houses to see what colors appeal to you.  You should be careful however, not to match your color choice to houses that are nearby.

Narrow it Down

Once you have found the basic idea of what you like, you can visit a local paint store and pick up some color charts.  You can also check online as many websites such as SherwinWilliams.com and BenjaminMoore.com offer color visualizers where you can actually play around with different colors on a house.  Just keep in mind you are looking at a computer screen and the colors may not be exact.  Once you have narrowed down your color choices it is time to test it out.

Sample and Test

Purchase a few samples of the actual paint colors you are considering.  (Trust me it is worth the few bucks.)  You can apply the paint samples directly to an area of the house or you can paint a poster board and tack that up to the house.  It is best to check the color after it has fully dried and at different times of day.  Sometimes a color will be just what you expect or it may “grow on you” as you give it a chance, other times you may know immediately that it is not right for you.

Go For It!

Color selection is very much based on individual tastes and preferences.  Remember one man’s “Smurf House” is another man’s “Beautiful Blue”.  As long as you are comfortable and happy with the color, go for it.  Just make sure to do your homework so the end result is exactly what you expected!

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