Design professionals, real estate agents and homeowners agree that a coat of paint can drastically alter the look of a space. Whether it’s an exterior face-lift aimed at improving “curb appeal” or the desire to transform a dated living room into a stylish, modern space, using paint is a simple and cost-effective way to remodel without the hassle and expense of tearing down walls or installing new floors.
Interior designer and decorator, Beth Hudson of Metamorphosis Design, in Farmington, says, “Changing the color of the walls and/or ceiling can give a whole new feeling to a room. It is even possible to make a space feel brighter and bigger with nothing more than a few coats of paint.”
According to Julie Kain, co-owner the Livonia based painting company We Paint Green, it is important to choose paints that will create a striking aesthetic without compromising the health of the planet and the wellness of the people living and breathing in the space being painted. Traditional paints contain carbon-based molecules such as formaldehyde, acetone and petroleum which are emitted into the air in the form of gasses. These molecules, known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), are what cause the paint odor commonly referred to as “new paint smell.” In addition to having a foul odor, the VOC’s found in household paint can cause temporary health problems such as irritation of the mucous membranes, headaches, dizziness and breathing problems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), poor indoor air quality is one of the top five health problems in the United States, and indoor air is rated at up to five times worse than outside air quality.
The EPA has set a standard of less than 200 grams VOC per liter of paint for Low VOC paints, which, according to Kain, is less than half of the VOC content of typical paint products. Some paints also carry the Green Seal certification, which indicates a VOC content of less than 50 grams per liter. A third category of paint, labeled as Zero VOC, designates the presence of less than 5 grams VOC per liter. “These alternatives are available in every color and sheen, and are priced competitively to traditional latex paint,” says Kain, whose company is dedicated to utilizing only paint products that contain little or no VOC’s. She explains, “Given the health concerns of consumers and environmental regulations, alternative products have come in to the market that are healthier, and increasingly more competitively priced. Technology is meeting sustainability, and new products are available that are friendlier to the environment.”
Local mom, Vanessa Johnson, sought out paint labelled Zero VOC before beginning her recent family room redecorating project. She says, “We wanted to choose a less-toxic product because we have a baby and it was impossible to get him out of the house long enough to paint and then let it dry enough for all the fumes to dissipate. With Zero VOC paint, we could open the windows and couldn’t smell the paint at all!”
According to the professionals at We Paint Green, even after traditional paint dries, the risk of air pollution remains. “Once the odor disappears, there is a false sense of security that we are no longer at risk. The fact is that products containing VOC’s continue to off-gas for a period of time before becoming inert,” Kain explains. For Johnson, this startling fact further drives home the benefits of choosing ecologically friendly products. She says, “Selecting products like Zero VOC paint is important to me because I work hard to reduce my family’s exposure to chemicals and toxic fumes.” Of the results of her family room makeover Johnson reports, “I am so happy with the results. Our room looks great and it smells great too.”
Protecting the healthy and well-being of families like the Johnson’s is what motivated Kain and partner, Bernie Bean, to create the specialty division of their painting company. “We share our knowledge, research and expertise to assist customers in making educated and informed decisions,” she says happily. We Paint Green also strives to to reduce the amount of hazardous waste in the community by selecting products that are created according to a sustainable model using high quality, raw materials.
For individuals considering hiring a professional painter, Kain recommends selecting a company that is experienced in low-VOC products, knowledgeable and informed on indoor air quality and that uses environmentally sound practices for applying, cleaning up and disposing of unused paint.
We Paint Green, LLC provides professional residential, commercial and industrial painting in Southeast Michigan. For more information visit WePaintHouses.net or contact We Paint Green, LLC at 734-427-4487.
For any painting or remodeling project, WE PAINT GREEN recommends following the ‘BUD’ rule:
- Buy only what you need
- Use the product you buy
- Donate or dispose of leftovers responsibly
Wondering where to donate your paint leftovers? Suggestions include drama groups, school theater clubs, boy and girl scout troops, community recreation centers, Habitat for Humanity and homeless shelters. Remember that paint isn’t just for walls; these organizations can use it to spruce up picnic tables in a community eating area, create scenery, update a dated gathering space or put the finishing touches on a parade float.
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Source: Natural Awakenings Magazine of Wayne County