A new look for your walls

Paint is one of the easiest and most economical ways to transform a space.  With a fresh colour or a patterned accent wall, you can create a calming mood or a vibrant focal point. But modern commercial paint is also one of the primary causes of indoor air pollution, leading to health problems such as asthma, allergies, and skin irritation as well as other more serious disorders.  Furthermore, the means of producing this paint is extremely wasteful and harmful to the environment. 

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The latex paint that most of us are familiar with today (also known as emulsion), is a general term which covers all paints that use synthetic polymers such as acrylic, vinyl acrylic (PVA), styrene acrylic, etc. as binders.  This is a petrochemical product, containing a high proportion of plastic.  A wall coated in this thin layer of plastic is unable to ‘breathe’, and it is static, which can attract dust and bacteria. The impact on human health is due to the volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that are found in most conventional synthetic paints.  Low level toxins are released into the air as the paint dries, and even years after application.   There are an estimated 15,000 different chemicals that may be used during the manufacturing process of paints, varnish and cleaning products, and the effects of these pollutants is not fully understood.

Furthermore, the production of commercial paint is extremely wasteful, devouring fossil fuels, and in some cases resulting in up to 90% hazardous waste.  This waste gets stored in tanks, as there is no other safe method of disposing of it.  Likewise, there is no safe or biodegradable way to dispose of old or unused synthetic paints, and oftentimes they get washed down the drain during clean up to pollute our water systems.

Until recently, there have been few options for more natural paint products that could complete with the performance and colour ranges of conventional synthetic paints.  But as the eco-friendly paint market has grown and regulations have evolved, this is no longer the case.  There are now alternative options of high-quality paints without the harmful chemicals and awful odours.

PAINT

Healthy & Sustainable Paint Options

SYNTHETIC ZERO-VOC NON-TOXIC PAINT

A paint using a synthetic binder (ie: latex) as well as other synthetic fillers and pigments.  While most paint manufacturer’s offer a zero-VOC product, this does not guarantee it is non-toxic.  There are some manufacturers that offer zero-voc synthetic paint that also has little or no toxic ingredients. Though the harmful toxins are greatly reduced in these products, they still are composed of synthetic ingredients which have significant negative impacts on the environment.

Manufacurers:

Benjamin Moore Natura

AFM Safecoat

Pros:

  • Reduced toxins

  • Little or no odour

  • Durable and washable

  • Predictable performance

  • Wide colour range

Cons:

  • High environmental impacts and embodied energy in manufacturing

  • Wasteful production process

  • Hazardous waste

  • Impermeable finish

MILK PAINT

A natural paint using casein (milk protein) as a binder, as well as other natural ingredients such as lime, chalk, clay and natural pigments.  It commonly comes in a powder form that needs to be mixed with water and immediately applied. The mixed paint can last up to a couple weeks, but adheres best when applied immediately, and is best used on porous surfaces.  It is a popular choice for furniture refinishing.

Manufacturers:

Old Fashioned Paint Company 

The Real Milk Paint Co

Pros:

  • All natural ingredients are non-toxic, abundant and biodegradable

  • Can be used on many surfaces

  • Breathable or permeable finish

  • Can be homemade

Cons:

  • Limited colour ranges

  • Requires preparation

  • Mixed paint will spoil

  • Requires porous surface, or surface preparation

CLAY PAINT

A natural paint made of clay, aggregate, natural pigments and binders, suitable for interior surfaces that are porous.  It commonly comes in a powder form that needs to be mixed with water and immediately applied. Variations in the mix can create interesting textures and a range of aesthetic possibilities from smooth ultra-matte finishes to textured finishes resembling stone or plaster.  It can be applied by brush, roller, sponge or trowel, depending on the consistency and desired appearance.

Manufacturers:

Unearthed Paints

Bioshield Paint 

Earthborn Paints

Pros:

  • All natural ingredients are non-toxic, abundant and biodegradable

  • Easy to use and easy clean up with water

  • Many aesthetic possibilities

  • Breathable or permeable finish

  • Repairable

Cons:

  • Limited colour ranges

  • Requires preparation

  • Not suitable for wet areas

LIME PAINT / WASH

Lime wash is made of powdered, fired limestone, which is mixed with water and chemically recarbonizes into a durable material on application.  It naturally has a bright white finish or can be tinted with pigments. Lime paint includes aggregate, binders and fibres along with the lime, pigments and water to give it a desired consistency.  Oftentimes, casein is used as a binder, making it similar to milk paint.  It is a durable finish that continues to strengthen over time.

Manufacturers:

Pure and Original 🍁

BioLime

Pros:

  • All natural ingredients are non-toxic, abundant and biodegradable

  • Easy to use and easy clean up with water

  • Many aesthetic possibilities

  • Breathable or permeable finish

  • Repairable

Cons:

  • Limited colour ranges

  • Requires preparation

  • Requires porous surface, or surface preparation

RECYCLED PAINT

There are some innovative companies who use unwanted latex paint and recycle it to create new paint.  The paint is collected, sorted into grade levels, and reprocessed it into new colours by adding new pigments.

Manufacturers:

Loop Paint 🍁

Eco-peinture 🍁

Boomerang Paint 🍁

Pros:

  • Keeps toxic waste out of the landfill

  • Cost effective

Cons:

  • Limited colour ranges

  • May contain VOC’s and other toxins

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