A fresh coat of paint can make your home look like new, but living with the fumes for days, or even years, isn't as pleasant. Many paints are also harmful for the environment, making the choice to paint even more difficult. Fortunately, you have options that will keep both you and the environment healthy.
Tip #1: Test the Walls
If you will have the walls stripped or sanded before painting begins, it's vital that you have your home tested for lead paint. Homes built before 1978 may contain lead paint, which is both a health and an environmental hazard. Asbestos in the ceiling can also be a problem in older homes. If you are in doubt, have everything tested before the painting begins. If lead or asbestos is found, you will need to have it safely removed before continuing with your project.
Tip #2: Choose the Right Paint
When it comes to the environment, not all paint is created equal. If you hire out your painting, make sure your contractor works with you to select the paint with the smallest ecological footprint and health issues. You have three main choices in non-toxic paint:
Natural paints, such as clay, chalk, or milk paint. These paints produce no smell and nearly no fumes, so they pose a low health risk and minimal environmental impact. These are best suited to interior applications.
Zero-VOC paints. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, which is what causes the dangerous fumes as you paint. Although zero-VOC paints don't pose a major health risk, they may still contain chemicals that aren't 100 percent environmentally friendly.
Low-VOC paints are similar to zero-VOC, except they do contain some fume-producing chemicals. These often cost less than zero-VOC options, and you may have more color choices.
Tip #3: Avoid Waste
Wasted paint ends up in a hazardous waste landfill, which is no good for your wallet or the environment. Work with your painter to order just enough paint for the job. If you do end up with some extra paint, keep it stored in a tightly sealed can in a dry, cool place. With a bit of stirring, you can reuse this paint for future projects and repairs.
If you must dispose of paint, don't toss it in the garbage or pour it down the drain. Even eco-friendly paints can taint the groundwater if they aren't disposed of properly.
Tip #4: Wash Up Wisely
When it comes to cleanup, make it a goal to keep as much paint out of the water supply as possible. Wash paintbrushes and trays as little as possible. For a job that takes several days, you can wrap brushes and trays in plastic and store them in the freezer so they don't dry out. Then you only need to wash up at the end of the project.
When it is time to clean your tools, use brush cleaners in a container that comes with a tight-fitting lid. You can seal and store the cleaner for future reuse.
Selecting a painting contractor, such as Allbright Painting Limited, that is well versed in minimizing indoor chemical exposures and making ecologically responsible choices can help you navigate the maze of choices when it's time to paint your home.