Paint has come a long way since its lead-based and toxic early days…but can eco-friendly paint brands really offer the same coverage and vivid color as mainstream paint brands?
Can you have a stunning feature wall and zero VOC?
Yes, you most definitely can!
From the volatile organic compounds in traditional paints to homemade real milk paint, later in this article, I’ll cover what you should be looking out for when shopping for eco-friendly paints.
The prep has been done, the walls are filled and smooth as silk, so it’s time to crack out the coveralls, grab a brush and get straight into the list.
They Say: For 35 years, we’ve helped our customers create healthier living environments with our premium quality, eco-friendly paints, stains, and varnishes. We’re happy to let you know what’s in every can so you can feel good about bringing ECOS into your home.
We Say: Transparency is at the core of ECOS…and that's why it’s been my paint brand of choice for many years.
If it's good enough for the Louvre, Westminster Abbey, and the Getty Museum…then it’s good enough for me.
Every paint they make is non-toxic, contains zero VOCs, and comes with a complete list of ingredients.
Their extensive range of zero VOC paints covers both indoor and outdoor applications and a vast array of colors.
Not quite sure which color to go for? You can order up to eight free color cards to help you decide.
My most recent experience with ECOS Paints was when I helped repaint my nephew's bedroom.
We used ECOS Paints Lullaby. Excellent even coverage, non-toxic ingredients, and increased durability. Very impressive!
ECOS has been around for over 35 years. They manufacture their products in Spartanburg, South Carolina. A true American brand you can trust!
Free shipping is available on all U.S. orders over $100.
They Say: Eco Spec® is our “greenest” interior premium paint. With zero VOCs and zero emissions, Eco Spec® is the perfect choice when an environmentally responsible paint is required and is tinted with Benjamin Moore's proprietary Gennex® zero VOC colorant system.
We Say: Benjamin Moore is another brand I’ve used for sustainable paints in the past.
I prefer ECOS Paint, but Benjamin Moore is a good alternative if, for example, ECOS Paint doesn’t have the exact color you need.
If you live close to a Benjamin Moore store, you can order online and then collect in as little as three hours. Handy!
Their Eco Spec paint (available in the full range of Benjamin Moore colors) is the standout eco-friendly option.
They Say: The Silk All-In-One Paint is a creamy, self-leveling, one-step paint. With its built-in primer, stain blocker, and topcoat you will achieve a clean, modern look with a stunning, silky eggshell finish.
We Say: There was only one place to turn when I decided that I also wanted to test out some of the smaller eco-friendly paint manufacturers.
With their ever-expanding army of artisan producers and eco-friendly products, Etsy is now firmly one of my favorite zero-waste stores.
There aren't many products I can think of that Etsy doesn’t stock an eco-friendly version of, and paint is no exception.
MaikaDaughters was the one I chose to test for the following reasons:
I was not disappointed. It was nice to paint with (good coverage with minimal splatter) and really is entirely odorless.
If MaikaDaughters is not to your liking, simply click here and browse over 8,000 alternative options.
We Say: Lastly, a quick shoutout to BEHR Premium Plus.
I always have a tin of this interior paint in the garage.
It’s excellent value for money and the only paint I trust for high traffic areas, such as baseboards and door frames.
It’s also GREENGUARD certified, so you can rest assured that the Zero VOC claim is fully legit.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a large group of chemicals that are found in many products we use to build and maintain our homes. Once these chemicals are in our homes, they are released or “off-gas” into the indoor air we breathe”.
Common VOCs to look out for, and try to avoid, include:
Toxic interior paints are a significant contributor to poor indoor air quality.
Eco-friendly paints have low levels of VOC. Some are even 100% VOC free.
The term ‘sheen’ refers to the level of glossiness. Most paint brands offer the following sheens (from least glossiest to most glossiest).
The main eco-friendly paint certifications to look out for are:
This said, if a paint brand had no certifications, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s toxic and should be avoided.
Maintaining a certified status can be too expensive, especially for small eco-friendly businesses.
Treat certification as a guide, but don’t make it your only selection criteria.
No…don’t…you’re better than that…I mean paint stipping! 😉
The EPA estimates that when stripping old paint from internal walls, the VOC levels in your home can skyrocket to over 1,000 times that of outside.
Always wear a respirator and open doors/windows.
Making eco-friendly paint is easier than you might think.
And that’s it…congratulations…you’ve made your own eco-friendly paint.
This mix will spoil within a few hours, so get it on the walls ASAP.
Also, don’t worry about the sour smell. That’ll go once the paint has dried. PROMISE!
Milk paint is generally considered to be eco-friendly. However, it’s not the right option if you're vegan. Also, on cow’s milk, other environmental consequences need to be considered, as reported by the WWF.
House plants are one of my favorite ways to improve indoor air quality.
Etsy has an extensive range of environmentally friendly paint for artists.
There is no microplastic in acrylic paint when it’s wet. However, microplastic can form during the lifecycle of acrylic paint, especially if it's left in a tin/tube for a long time.
I got my love of DIY from my dad. He was always very handy around the house when I was growing up. There was nothing he couldn’t turn his hand to.
Back in his day, the most durable, long-lasting paints used harsh chemicals to achieve superior binding and damage resistance.
Thankfully, things have moved on quickly, and non-toxic, eco-friendly paints are now easily accessible.
The lower the VOCs, the better, but don’t just look at VOCs.
Consider other things in conventional paints such as toxic metals, planet-damaging solvents, carcinogenic additives (biocides, surfactants, defoamers).
Where do you buy your non-toxic paint? Have I missed your favorite low VOC paint brand? Have you ever made your own milk paint? Drop me a line and let me know.