Low VOCs, No Vocs, What Does it Mean?

Low VOCs, No Vocs, What Does it Mean?


VOCs stands for volatile organic compounds. Just knowing that may not make it any more clear. As we get ready for Earth Day, it's a good time to get clear on the environmental impace of the paint you use to make your home beautiful.

Paint contains colour, of course, in the form of pigments that come from minerals or sometimes from plants. You could just rub pigments directly into your walls and get colour. Take a minute to imagine how it would look. Not what you want, right?

That's why paint contains two other things: solvent, which is a liquid to hold the pigment, and binder, which keeps the paint together in the brush and on the wall.

In the past, solvents and binders were often things like milk, egg whites, or rabbit glue (don't ask). Later, easier and longer-lasting substances were used -- like petroleum derivatives.

As the paint dries, the solvent evaporates, leaving just the binder and the pigment on the wall. That's the volatile part -- the organic compounds in the solvent don't stay put, but they go into the air. Water is a solvent, and when it evaporates, it leaves a bit of water in the air. As other solvents evaporate, though, they emit water and also toxic chemicals like aldehydes, ketones, and hydrocarbons which contribute to air pollution and can damage the ozone layer.

Since water is a solvent, water-based paints are the best solution, and most low or no VOCs paints use water as a solvent. Early water-based paints came in few colours and didn't have the lushness and saturation of paints made with oils.

Now, with intensive research, low and no VOCs paints are being produced which have the same beautiful colours as oil-based paints. Sydney-based painters Courtney & Wise are advocates for environmentally responsible practices, so we're glad to be able to offer our customers green painting services with the impressive finish homeowners want.