Sustainability; Paint and Exterior Use

By Matt Smith

Painting the exterior walls of your house is a task that requires some thought, preparation and work. First of all, you want your house to look appealing and beautiful, reflecting your own style and way of life. Second of all, but maybe most important, you want the paint to be high-quality, durable and resistant to different weather conditions. Painting is not something you want or should often do, you want a long-lasting paint. Third of all, you should think about the recent trend of sustainable living and being eco-friendly, even when it comes to painting.

The sustainable or green living is not just a passing trend, something that is fashionable at the moment, that people have only taken a short-term interest in. It is a way of life whose principles are increasingly spreading and taking hold in people’s minds. Its focus is environmentally friendly living based on recycling, reducing energy consumption, pollution, and waste production.

When it comes to painting the exterior of your house, there are many options for sustainable paints, the ones that do not harm the environment and do not pollute the air. Most commonly used paints have ingredients that are harmful to the environment, so the best option for sustainable paints is choosing those with low or no levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC). VOCs are ingredients found in the solvents in the paint. When the paint is drying the solvents evaporate and release the hazardous and toxic VOCs in the air, causing pollution and hurting the environment. They are also responsible for the unpleasant and strong odor from the paint.

Environmentally-advanced paints, as they are sometimes called, are based on water and are natural, made of renewable resources. Water-based paints are also sometimes called acrylic emulsions, and they are water-soluble, natural, bio-degradable, and fast-drying. This, on the other hand, does not take anything away from their quality. They are very durable, resistant to water and different weather conditions, and will last for a long time. Sustainable paints can also be recycled. This means that they are usually made of 50 % of recycled paint and 50 % of new paint.

The parts of paint that contain most volatile compounds are usually the colorants, additives that are used for acquiring different kinds of color. With sustainable and recycled paints everything is natural or bio-based, including those colorants. Instead of the volatile ones, some manufacturers use mineral, non-toxic pigments. Those are pigments found in the earth itself, dug from the ground or found in different rocks. There is nothing more natural than that. Such pigments can include ultramarine, umber, ocher, sienna and others, and they are bio-degradable and odorless.

On top of being environmentally beneficial, natural paints are also beneficial to your health. The toxins that are released from commonly used paints with high levels of VOCs, are also detrimental to your health.  Breathing them in is inevitable during a paint job, and they can cause some health issues such as headaches or worse, especially if exposed to them for long periods of time. By using sustainable and natural paint you not only take care of the environment, but you take care of your own health as well.

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