Time to give your home that fresh new look, change the colour of the walls to brighten up some spaces or give that calm feel to your relaxation area. So you go down to your nearest DIY shop and get overwhelmed by all the options of paint colours and finishes. It is so hard to decide! I have been there too… Whatever choice we make, the walls will remain like that for a while and we want to feel good and happy in the space. The choice of colour can have an impact on your mood and state of mind but in our excitement in choosing the perfect colour we don’t often consider other aspects of traditional paints that can have an impact on your health and wellbeing as well as the environment.
If you have done DIY painting before, be it on the walls or furniture in your home, or even if you had someone else do it on your behalf, you have surely experienced very strong smells that often cause headaches, nausea and dizziness. This is because traditional paints contain many toxins such as heavy metals, formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds or VOCs, some of which can contribute to cancer or organ damage. VOCs are released in the air during the drying process of the paint, which can last months or even years. You wouldn’t spray toxic chemicals inside your home in the areas where your kids play and your family gathers, would you? No one would, so it doesn’t make sense to use toxic paints either. Luckily, there are various options of eco-friendly paints on the market that do not include all those nasties in their composition!
Differently from traditional paints that use very energy intensive petrochemical products, eco-friendly paints are made of sustainable materials and natural ingredients such as natural oils, chalk, mineral pigments and plant extracts and as such go through a low carbon or carbon neutral process of production. They are also biodegradable which means you can compost any leftovers! They are breathable, so they will let any moisture penetrate through the surfaces and escape the rooms, avoiding any damp in your home.
They have no nasty smells or toxins and you can rest assured that your family’s health will not be affected. Always check the labels to make sure you are buying a product that contains the characteristics above as levels of “eco” can be interpreted in different ways by manufacturers. Look for the exact ingredients on the labels and check if they are natural, biodegradable, breathable and VOC free. Some brands are also accredited by the EU ecolabel or have the British Allergy foundation’s seal of approval.
You may also be wondering how easy to use they are, what applications they are adequate for and if the quality of finish is comparable to traditional paints. Like regular paints, they are sold already mixed and ready to use so there is no mixing of powder and base paint before you get started. Many different types of finish are available, from glossy to matte, they can be washable and applicable to all types of surfaces like metal, wood and walls. Additionally, you can find natural varnishes to give your furniture and floor some shine and natural primers and undercoats to prepare the surface before painting. Eco-paints can be found in a wide variety of colours, and you can even order your desired bespoke shade of colour.
The quality of finish will depend on the particular paint you choose and if it is appropriate for the surface you are applying it to. Generally, it will have a similar coverage to traditional paints but they can take longer to dry since they do not have the nasty ingredients that make this process quicker. You also have to apply them correctly and following manufacturer’s instructions. In terms of price, they tend to be similar to premium traditional paints but a bit more expensive than basic ones. You would normally be able to find one or two brands of eco-paints in big DIY shops but they would be hard to find in small local hardware shops so the best option is to buy online.
Next time you plan to do a big refreshing of the walls and furniture in your home have a look around not only for amazing colours but also for paints that won’t cause any harm to your family and contaminate the air you breathe. You will also make a big contribution to our planet. So get those brushes ready and Green It Yourself…Now!
What is your experience with eco paints? Did you find them in the colour you wanted? Did they have good coverage? Were they easy to apply? Share your thoughts with us on the comments below!