Earth-Friendly Painting and Your Business: What You Should Know

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A fresh coat of paint is essential for making your facility look its best. Proper maintenance helps everything run more smoothly and can even make your business more profitable. When you need a new coating of paint, it’s wise to consider both the environmental impact of paint and its functions for your specific painting job.

Paints, stains and coatings can produce some volatile organic compound (or VOC) emissions from commercial products. VOCs are carbon compounds that evaporate at room temperature and can produce ground-level ozone. VOCs can spur respiratory, skin and eye irritation as well as headaches, nausea and muscle weakness. However, EPA and state rules have been put in place in order to reduce emissions of VOCs and the EPA requires VOC content of less than 380 g/L. It’s also important to look at the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for levels of heavy metals or other toxic materials.

Let’s look at the types of paint available as well as their advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Natural paints: These paints are made mostly of renewable or naturally occurring materials such as citrus oil, lime, clay, chalk and others. They emit little to no smog-related VOCs but may contain other VOC types. Milk-based paints are available that contain powdered casein, which is a protein found in milk. Natural paints cost significantly more than other types and can take two days or more to dry. You also might need to do extensive priming on walls.
  2. Latex paints: This type of paint has lower VOC levels than oil-based paint because uses water as a carrier. Latex paints usually don’t contain any latex so they’re safe for those who may be allergic to use.
  3. Oil paints: These paints use binders that are derived from petrochemicals. They are durable, easy to scrub and water resistant, which makes them good for high-abuse areas and exterior applications, especially for facilities or plants that put up with significant wear and tear. Even though oil-based paints typically have the highest amount of VOCs, they usually take fewer coats to finish the job, which could actually reduce the total amount of VOCs overall.

Also, here are some earth-friendly and safety tips to keep in mind when painting:

  • Proper ventilation is key to a safe painting job. Airborne chemicals can create indoor air pollution, which can be avoided if the area is ventilated correctly.
  • Store paint cans upside down and ensure lids are on tight. This will prevent air from flowing in and out of can, which causes paint to dry or thicken.
  • All exterior paints contain fungicides. The most green choice is one that uses zinc oxide as fungicide or little to no VOC acrylic or latex paints.
  • If possible, stains should be water-based and sealants should be without biocides and added dryers.

Now that you’re aware of the risks and benefits, you can make the best decision for your specific painting needs.  If you would like professional assistance and are looking for a contractor in California, contact Cor-Ray Painting Company at (562) 906-9770. Cor-Ray has extensive experience in painting services and has tackled major projects such as the Angels Gate Lighthouse. They have implemented environmentally safe practices such as proper lead abatement and removal. For a look at the lighthouse project or others, check out their projects here.

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