What’s in Your Paint, and Why You Should Care
House paint is made up of three main things: pigment (that’s the colour), a binder to keep the colour all together and make it stick to your walls, and a solvent, which keeps the paint liquid.
The solvent can be anything from water to alcohol or petroleum products. The important thing to consider here is the environmental impact of your solvent choice. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, don’t stay with the paint, but instead go into the atmosphere. Low VOC or no VOC paints are healthier for you and for the environment.
The binder can be oil, acrylic, or other plastic-like substances. The choice of binder affects the performance of the paint, and some binders work better than others in particular circumstances. When choosing a paint, you should talk with your painter about the rooms you plan to paint. For example, will it be important to be able to wash the walls? If so, your best paint will be different from a room in which this is not essential.
The pigment creates the colour of the paint. Usually, pigments are minerals, but some come from plants and some are synthetic. Different pigments have different characteristics beyond their colours. For example, lead pigments are dangerous to humans. Titanium dioxide protects surfaces against UV rays, reflects light, and helps to keep homes cooler in summer.
All paint is made up of these three elements. The details of material and composition affect the strength of the paint, how long it lasts without fading, and the beauty of the finished paint job.
So with all these factors, how can you choose the best paint? First, buy the best you can afford. The price difference between paint made with titanium dioxide and paint made with cheaper and poorer quality calcium products is not as great as the price of repainting your home sooner.
Second, choose the right paint for the use. A special finish looks fantastic in a bedroom — but the same paint may not perform well with the moisture in a bathroom, or in a playroom or kitchen where the wall must often be washed.
Third, don’t let colour sway you. Choosing the right paint for the job and then mixing the precise colour is a better plan than falling in love with a colour and grabbing a can without looking into the suitability of the paint.
Your professional painters and decorators will always be your best resource when it comes to paint choice. Make sure you give them full information about the rooms and buildings you plan to paint.
Courtney and Wise, master house painters and decorators for Sydney’s North Shore and Northern Beaches since 1954.
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