Condo Blues: Are Low VOC Paints Long Lasting?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Are Low VOC Paints Long Lasting?

My builder used the cheapest paint possible to paint the interior of my house. Based on the touch up paint they left for us, they most likely watered it down too. Whenever I try to clean a mark from the wall with nothing put a damp sponge paint and sometimes drywall end up on my sponge.


Not all of my touch up paint is thin and runny. Some of it is so thick it looks like cottage cheese and broke the stir stick.

I have several rooms that desperately need priming and painting.

Now that low and no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints are more readily available I did some research.

“VOCs are solvents that get released into the air as the paint dries. (Other products emit solvents, including adhesives, cleaning supplies, and even some home furnishings.) VOCs can cause acute symptoms, including headaches and dizziness. The long-term effects are less certain, but according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, some VOCs are suspected carcinogens.”
In my experience, VOCs are also what make things like paint or wood glue stink.


Since I get migraine headaches from time to time, using a low VOC paint may be in my best interest.

Several years ago I read an article in the New York Times Home and Garden section that reports that while most paint and home design professionals like that manufacturers are developing low VOC paints, in their experience, a low VOC paint job doesn’t last as long and their clients often demand a new paint job within a year or two because of signs of wear and tear.

Have you used low VOC paint? Is this true?

While I’m willing to invest more money in a quality paint that may not harm my friends and family who visit, I really don’t want to be in the same situation I’m currently in after spending up to $45 a gallon for low VOC paint to repaint my guest room, living room, kitchen, and hallway a year or two later.

If low VOC paint doesn’t live up to normal wear and tear, it doesn’t seem sustainable to me. I’d consider it expensive and wasteful since I’d have to buy new paint and supplies every couple of years.

Not to mention I don’t like to paint. Yes, I know it's the easiest and cheapest way to transform a room but that doesn't make the task any more likable. I’d like to do this job once and keep that way for several years to come. And by several, I mean more than two.

However, this article was written two years ago. With time comes change in techniques and technology. There are many more brands and types of low VOC paint to choose from now than when this article was written. Lack of durability might be a moot point by now.

Do you know? Have you ever used low VOC paint? Did you like it? More importantly, did your paint job last?

And if you are happy with the performance of low VOC paint, what brand was it?


Robj98168 said...

I used a low VOC paint in the office- actually was a return to the paint store... In that room I have been totally satisfied with it.
The contractor who built my addition was supposedly used low VOC paint per my wishes. Not happy, not convinced it really was low VOC... and yes, 2 years later need to repaint that room.

Anonymous said...

We used Sherwin Williams Harmony eggshell on our walls about 1-2 years ago in an off-white color and it has held up just fine. Looks great, although not any better than a regular paint would. I didn't realize what a difference it made during the painting process until we had to use regular concrete paint for another project... and it STANK for a WEEK! The Harmony paint has a paint smell while it's wet, gone as soon as it dries.

vanessa said...

we've used olympic brand low VOC paint in our apartment. we painted the kitchen first, a year ago, with the kitchen-bathroom formula which is supposed to stand up to humidity and cleaning better than the regular formula. so far so good :)

for my bathroom, which i just painted, the associate we spoke with talked us into a non-low VOC valspar paint because of the color i chose. i don't care if it is supposed to keep that color better, i'm really unhappy with myself for having gotten one that is not low VOC. for health's sake, it's worth having to slap a new coat on every couple of years if necessary.

Delightful Dwelling said...

I have not used low VOC paint, but I will be interested to see how it works since it's something I might use in the future when we have kids.

Dance 4 Oceans said...

I use American Pride paint, zero VOC, and it works perfectly. Almost no smell. It dries fast, too.

Jenny said...

Howdy! Just dropping by from WFMW to check out your bloggy :D Hope you have a great weekend !

Anna (Green Talk) said...

We used EcoSpec by Benjamin Moore more than 5 years ago. They now have other no and low voc paints such as Aura and Nativa. Next time, I will probably use Nativa.

Paint is great.

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

We have low and no-VOC paint on all the interior walls and ceilings of our home. It has held up just fine, although the brighter colors (orange in bedroom and purple in bathroom) that we added 2years ago could have used a second coat of paint as it has chipped a bit under the treatment of our kids. However, I'm not sure this would have been any different with regular paint with those colors and treatment.

Brenda Pike said...

We used Sherwin Williams Harmony paint in our living room a year and a half ago and it seems to be holding up well. I guess we'll see in the years to come, but for now we like it, and we're going to paint the bedroom soon, too.

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