Eco-Friendly, Low VOC Paints

We all want to decrease our carbon footprints. Home remodeling projects are a great place to make eco-friendly choices, especially because your home environment contributes to your health. Finding a quality paint that’s also eco-friendly used to be a difficult task. Fortunately, more and more companies are working to create quality, low VOC paints to use in your home. You can feel happy about the beauty of your home, as well as the air you and your family are breathing.

Allbright 300x223 Eco Friendly, Low VOC Paints

What are VOCs?

Manufacturers often add ingredients to paint to increase its durability and coverage abilities. While these many varied ingredients do help to create a higher-quality paint, they unfortunately also often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are released into the air as the paint dries. These VOCs then stick around in the indoor air we breathe. And the tricky thing is, you can’t always smell VOCs, so it’s difficult to even know they are there. VOCs are also damaging to the outside environment, contributing to air pollution. And they can cause headaches, sore throats, and even nervous system damage to the painter.

Painted Room 300x200 Eco Friendly, Low VOC Paints

How Much Is Too Much?

More and more paint companies are advertising their low VOC content in an effort to appeal to health- and environmentally-conscious consumers. But how can you tell them apart? What VOC level is good enough for your home and family?

VOC content in paint is capped by the federal government at 250 grams per liter for flat finishes. For all other finishes, VOC content is capped at 380 grams per liter. California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) sets even stricter limits at 50 grams per liter for all finishes, and some paint manufacturers opt to comply with those limits instead.

In addition, the Ozone Transport Commission, a multistate organization created under the Clean Air Act, limits flat coatings to 100 grams per liter and non-flat coatings to 150 grams per liter. All paint sold in Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia must comply with these limitations.

Painters 200x300 Eco Friendly, Low VOC Paints

Brands of Paint

It used to be that paints with a VOC content of 50 grams per liter or less performed rather poorly. But fortunately, that has changed, and consumers have more options.

Sherwin Williams Emerald: This line is zero-VOC, and received Indoor Air Quality Certification from GreenGuard. It’s sustainable and washable, and offers smooth and even coverage. The paints in this line are also self-priming, and come with a lifetime warranty backed by Sherwin Williams.

Benjamin Moore Aura: This line complies with the strict restrictions set forth by California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District. Along with low VOC content, Good Housekeeping reviewed Benjamin Moore Aura and found that it covers “as well as, if not better than, a coat of primer plus paint.” It’s washable, and has an exceptional finish and texture.

True Value Easycare: Another line that complies with South Coast AQMD, True Value EasyCare was found by Good Housekeeping to be effective at resisting stains. However, it did not withstand abrasion and was somewhat difficult to apply.

Glidden Evermore: This line uses a no-VOC formula and is inexpensive. It’s resistant to fading, wear, and stains, but was found by Good Housekeeping to have a low finish and coverage quality.

The Winning Combination: Eco-Friendly Plus Quality

When selecting the right paint for your home, remember that quality is greater than price. If you choose an inexpensive paint, but have to constantly re-touch areas of your home, the low price isn’t worth it. Choose a low- or no-VOC paint that will leave a beautiful finish for the long term.


From time to time we publish original guest articles. The above article was written and pictures provided by Josh Abramson.

Josh Abramson is the chief solutionist for ALLBRiGHT 1-800-PAINTING, a commercial and residential painting company serving the Greater Los Angeles Area.

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