Skip to main content

Latest eco-paints improve on quality


The eco-friendly trend in hardware began several years ago and has already produced success stories, including the transition to CFL light bulbs and the move toward organic and all-natural fertilizers. And after a slow start, paint suppliers are making progress in the move toward less toxic paint, low in volatile organic compounds (VOC).

Once a little-known byproduct of paints, VOCs are toxins released into the atmosphere when paint is applied. To help curb the release of those toxins, particularly ozone, the federal government now limits the VOC content to 250 grams per liter for flat finishes and 380 grams per liter for all others.

NPD Group analyst Mark Delaney said that while consumers may not know what VOCs are, they do want paints that are less toxic. “We did a survey recently and found that 59% of consumers surveyed said it’s important that the paint they use be eco-friendly,” said Delaney.

That’s why most major suppliers now have lines of paint they promote as low-VOC (to qualify as low-VOC, paints need to contain less than 50 grams per liter).

Probably the best-known low-VOC paint is the Aura line from Benjamin Moore, which the company rolled out to stores in the Midwest and East Coast last year before going nationwide. “It has an entirely new tint-system and is the best low-VOC paint we’ve ever produced,” said Benjamin Moore’s Jeff Spillane when the new line debuted in stores.

The new tint system in Aura was an important factor for the company and low-VOC paints in general, since the knock against the first wave of paints was their sheen and lack of durability.

“One thing we know is that painting a room or a home is something consumers don’t want to have to do over again,” said Delaney. “So they want to know the paint they use is going to perform as well, or better than, a standard paint.”

Many suppliers are taking the trend one stop further by eliminating VOCs altogether. The Home Depot now has a line of no-VOC paint called FreshAire Choice that comes in 65 different tints and is recognized by the GreenGuard Environmental Institute as the first line of paint to be certified for children and schools. Home Depot also says the quality of the paint has “proven to be long-lasting and durable.”

Other recent entrants in the low or no-VOC category include Sherwin Williams Harmony line of no-VOC paint, Olympic Paint and Stain’s no-VOC line and Frazee’s EnviroKote zero-VOC interior paint.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds