Almost all modern paints have gone in the direction of low or non-VOC (volatile organic compounds). This means low odor and over the life of the paint very little toxins exude or expel from the surface. Also now, upon request, other construction materials are environmental friendly – including primers, caulk, drywall / sheetrock, joint compound and more. A great store in NYC’s East Village for all of this is Green Depot.
For high-end smooth oil finishes, some clients prefer Fine Paints of Europe. Custom finishes, glazes and effects were also popularized by Ralph Lauren paints. Farrow & Ball has come on the scene with unique paint and full deep colors not found elsewhere.
Benjamin Moore is by far the most convenient paint in NYC. Your local hardware store and Janovic Supercenters carry it and are great places to sort through and pick out colors. They also have fabric and window dressing services.
Home Depot of course has your mainstream paints: Behr, Glidden, Matha Stewart. But in going mainstream it’s recommended to simply go to Janovic and receive that more personal service. You simply tell us the color codes you pick out, and we do the rest (purchase, quantity, sheens).
In addition there are Interior Designers for Brushed Interiors that do color consultation. See the References Page
The gloss level affects perception of color. Flat paints (and textured walls) absorb light, so colors seem darker. Glossy paints and smooth surfaces reflect, so colors look brighter. The degree of glossiness may differ from one manufacturer to another.
Flat finishes hide imperfections well. But they’re not the most stain resistant, so they’re best in a decorative setting such as a formal living room, dining room, or other space that doesn’t see heavy use.
Often called eggshell or satin, these finishes have a slight sheen. Use them only on smooth, well-prepared surfaces, since their shine can accentuate imperfections on the wall. Low-luster paints are best for family rooms, kids’ rooms, hallways, and the like. Some might change sheen when scrubbed.
Shinier still, these paints are formulated to stand up to water and scrubbing. They’re generally the easiest to clean, so they’re ideal for kitchen and bathroom walls, windowsills, and other woodwork. Like low-luster paints, semigloss paints require a smooth, well-prepared surface with few imperfections. Some semigloss paints might change sheen when scrubbed.
[Aug 2010 consumersearch.com]
Alternative paints emit fewer fumes
Paint is made up of three components. The pigment represents the color; a binding agent ensures that the pigment sticks to the wall; and a solvent keeps it all liquid until exposed to air. The solvent evaporates on application, leaving the pigment behind on the wall. Solvents are the main source of VOCs in paint.
It’s now easy to find low-VOC, low-odor paints from major manufacturers. Here’s a guide to some terminology:Most conventional paints contain high levels of VOCs, which emit a breathable gas when applied. VOCs are known to diminish air quality and may be a health hazard. Fumes can cause eye and throat irritation, as well as headaches, nausea and dizziness. Some people with asthma find that paint fumes can trigger attacks. Long-term exposure to VOCs has been linked to kidney disease, liver damage and cancer. Homeowners who paint once every couple of years may not be too concerned about VOCs, provided the rooms being painted have good ventilation. However, there are several alternatives if you are affected by paint fumes, if sensitive people live in your home or if you just don’t relish breathing VOCs.
- VOC: Volatile organic compounds are the organic solvents found in commercial paint, which evaporate during the paint curing process. These compounds are the carrier responsible for the paint being able to spread on a surface. The odor during the paint curing process comes from the evaporation of these compounds. The federal government limits VOCs to 250 grams per liter for flat paint and 380 grams per liter for other finishes, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) might reduce that to 100 grams per liter for flat and 150 grams per liter for other finishes. All of the paints discussed in this report meet those lower limits.
- Low-VOC: ConsumerReports.org and other reputable sources consider 50 grams of VOCs per liter or less to be low-VOC, and well-known manufacturers stick to that definition. Low-VOC paint may not be low-odor. Benjamin Moore Aura covered in our Top Rated Interior Paints section, is a low-VOC paint.
- No-VOC: This type of paint has no VOCs at all. However, chemically sensitive people may still be sensitive to other paint components, which can also give off an odor. Not all zero-VOC paints are odor-free.
- Nontoxic: This type of interior paint is also referred to as natural. These products are no-VOC and nonhazardous. Natural materials like plant dyes, linseed oil and milk protein are used instead of chemical components. Nontoxic does not necessarily mean low-odor, however.
Be aware that because of EPA paint labeling regulations, some toxic ingredients found in conventional, low-VOC and no-VOC paint might not be listed on the paint container. A Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) should be consulted for a complete list of all the paint ingredients. Manufacturers usually post these sheets on their websites. VOC levels are listed for the base paint only; some tints can add VOCs.
“When zero-V.O.C. paints started gaining in popularity about five years ago, their quality was still unreliable — they often went on unevenly — and the selection of colors was limited to pastels and a few chalky earth tones,” writes Stephen Treffinger of The New York Times. “Since then, manufacturers claim to have made vast improvements. V.O.C.-free paints are now on par with regular paints in terms of quality, they say, and can be tinted almost any color.”
Benjamin Moore Natura can be tinted more than 3,000 colors and still remain VOC-free, according to Benjamin Moore. Like other Benjamin Moore paints, Natura is available at independent retailers and some Ace Hardware stores. It’s the zero-VOC paint that expert testers and professional house painters recommend most highly. Natura comes in flat, eggshell and semi-gloss sheens — none of which shows any major weaknesses in expert tests, except that the semigloss Natura tends to fade more than some other semigloss paints. Testers find Natura exceptionally stain- and mildew-resistant and durable when scrubbed.
In Treffinger’s test of 10 low- or no-VOC paints, Natura easily covers red and black permanent marker writing on a primed board. Newspaper-stained fingerprints are easier to wipe off of a wall painted with Natura flat than with more expensive paints in the test, “although the fingerprints never completely disappeared.” Treffinger says Natura also applied more smoothly than any other paint in the test, with a mild, fruity odor that — as with all of the paints Treffinger tested — disappeared in about an hour.
At PaintTalk.com, Benjamin Moore Natura is one of the no-VOC paints that professional painters recommend. One says Natura has “virtually no odor” (as Benjamin Moore advertises) but another disagrees. “I’ve used Natura on three jobs now and like it a lot but it’s definitely not no odor,” the reviewer says.