The paint that you use in your home is a much more important decision than you may think. Not only can paint have a big impact on your energy bills, but paint can also have an impact on the health of your family as well. While it may be something that many people overlook, it's important for you to take the time to learn about the benefits of different types of paint. In the end, you may find out that you have more to gain from selecting the right paint than you may realize.
The Impacts of Paint on Bills
While it may seem a bit strange to equate paint with a lower overall energy bill, the truth is that it's not so strange. Your selection of exterior and interior paint has a noticeable impact on your home's overall R-Value. The term "R-Value" applies to the level of thermal resistance a material has. When a material has a higher R-Value, it will provide better insulation against dramatic changes in either heat or cold. This results in lower thermal transfer from your home to the outside world and lower overall energy costs as your HVAC unit doesn't have to work as much.
The Impact of Paint on Health
There is no way to get around the fact that paint is a solution of chemicals that can be dangerous if applied incorrectly. This being said, some paints are definitely safer and less toxic than others. Years ago, people commonly used lead-based paints due to their ability to retain pigment and many other reasons. Over time, people started to learn that this lead paint was chipping and being eaten by small children. These children would develop significant health problems. The dust from this paint can also be inhaled by adults and cause major health issues for them.
When selecting the paint you're going to use in your home, it's important to look at it as a holistic decision. Some less-toxic paints won't last as long as traditional paints and therefore may not be a great choice for painting exteriors. On the other hand, you may want to favor low toxicity over any purported longevity benefits when painting indoors. This is especially true when you're painting something like a nursery or a kitchen.
Finding the Best Paints for You
When you're deciding on which paint to buy, the first thing that you should look into is the level of VOCs in the paint. VOC stands for "volatile organic compound" and these compounds can be found in most commercially produced paints. The danger of these compounds can be found in their "volatile" state.
When paint dries, it releases vapors into the air. Volatile compounds are not stable and are therefore more prone to vaporizing when exposed to the atmosphere. As the paint dries, it releases these chemicals into the air and can lead to acute symptoms like headaches and nausea. There is some debate over whether the VOCs released into the air by paint can be viewed as a realistic carcinogen. Astonishingly, VOCs don't stop emitting from your paint once it's dried. Some studies have said that only half of the vapors from a freshly-painted wall will be released in the first year. This means that it could be years until your paint stops emitting these compounds.
Finding low or no VOC paints is the best, most practical step toward finding non-toxic paints for your home. It should be noted that there are no paints on the market that have a VOC content of literally zero. Paints qualifying as "no VOC" paints contain 5 grams of VOCs per liter or less. While most non-toxic paints are going to be interior paint, there are many non-toxic exterior paint options as well.
If you opt to use a painting contractor you should discuss with them the various options including the VOC levels of the paints they use as well as its thickness and durability.