Have You Used Low VOC Paint?

| 10/14/2009 12:53:04 AM

About a month ago, my wife and I were enticed by a sale ad to visit our local Sherwin Williams store. We were about to embark on another room remodel and we needed paint.

We had bought Sherwin Williams’ Harmony low-VOC paint — aka “green” paint that doesn’t have harmful volatile organic compounds in it — a couple times before and had great experiences with it. The color and spread were great, but perhaps best of all, it was actually fun to paint with because we didn’t get headaches or have to open every window in the house to ventilate like did when we last painted a few years before. Sure, we weren’t thrilled at the higher cost of this paint when we bought it, but the old saying “you get what you pay for” rang true when the rubber hit the road, or in this case, when the paint hit the walls. 

This time, though, we’d find the best of both worlds. Looking at the sale prices on the low- and no-VOC paint compared to the regular options, I did a double take. Per gallon, the Harmony paint was a few cents cheaper. Really? Really.

If memory serves, the last time I bought the Harmony paint it was about $9 more per gallon than the conventional options (exactly how much more varies throughout the year and from region to region). But today the entire Harmony line was on sale. It was our lucky day. As if we had discovered some pricing mistake that was going to be corrected at any second, we quickly told the salesclerk which colors we needed and bought four gallons. The next day, I actually went back to get more for a down-the-road room redo. 

Such sales typically happen at least once or twice a year. So if you can wait for the right time and plan accordingly, it is possible to find low-voc paint at a comparable — or even lower — price than the regular stuff. Here are two more general tips: 

  • Sign up for the promotional e-mails from paint companies who make green paints because every so often they’ll put these paints on sale and/or send you general coupons.
  • Buy the paint when it’s on sale, add specific color later: For no additional charge, some stores will let you add the specific color tint whenever you’re ready. So don’t let a color debate between you and your significant other stop you from getting the paint when it’s on sale.

So what about you? Have you used low- or no-VOC paint before? Did you notice a difference in the color quality or ease of application from regular paint? Do you have a favorite brand? How much did you pay for that green paint? Got any tips to find smoking deals? Please share your stories by posting a comment below.

JOHNA Delano
10/17/2009 11:41:46 AM

I used low VOC paint to re-do my guest room and I love it!! There was no need to keep the door closed to keep fumes out of the rest of my house and it looks great!I used a Valspar paint that I got at LOWES and I'd buy it again for my next project in my basement.

D in San Diego
10/17/2009 7:57:42 AM

My wife and I painted our entire interior a year or so ago. We asked our contractor to use low VOC paints and provided him with the colors. He was new to this concept but came up with an acceptable product from Vista Paints here in San Diego. We picked an eggshell finish (we have dogs), and he went to town. No smell, great coverage, and really just a few bucks more a gallon. The paint job still looks great, cleans up easily, and we believe its was the Green thing to do on this remodel.

10/16/2009 11:22:51 PM

I painted two bedrooms with it. I used Pittsburgh Paints Pure Performance. It didn't seem that expensive to me--it wasn't bargain basement cheap, but was comparable to other paints in the store. It covered well and best of all, barely smelled when applied, and the smell was completely gone when it dried. That was five years ago and the finish is still fine. I'll use a low VOC paint every time if this is what it's like.

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