Is painting a real headache?

“Thanks for painting my bedroom. I love the colour, but I think I need to sleep in your bed tonight!”

Extreme? Not for some.

Painting (even the ones touted as being eco-friendly because they are water based) can cause a serious reaction in some people. The chemicals given off by the paint drying and curing can give some people really bad headaches, rashes, sneezes and breathing problems. We often hear of people not being able to use a room once it has been decorated. The painter (and most of us have decorated at some stage of our lives) will bear the brunt of it all, but the family will also end up with the fumes for weeks to come. All the nasty stuff has to be given off within a month of being painted, but this is a long time in your own home. So the effects of painting can be long lasting. It is not uncommon to hear that people have been forced to move out for a week or two before they could bear to return to their home.

Paints with higher levels of solvents in (these tend to be glosses, satins and wood treatments) have an even greater effect on sufferers as the level of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in these paints are greater than water based ones.

The large companies are trying to get below the VOC figures that the EU is imposing, but they have their hands tied by their processes that are fundamentally based on the petro-chemical industry. However, despair not. There are a number of eco paint companies that have solved the problem many decades ago, just by using natural ingredients.

Earthborn make VOC free products in the form of their claypaint, their ecoPro emulsion and their ProAqua Eggshell and Varnish. There is virtually no smell at all from these paints and what you can smell is perfectly harmless. You can literally paint the walls of your bedroom during the day and sleep there that night with no ill effects, even if you are chemically sensitive.

Auro have a wide range of water based and oil based paints and finishes. However their paints are made using oils from plants like linseed and oranges. They therefore have VOCs but they are all natural. So if you can tolerate peeling an orange then you can probably use Auro paint with no ill effects. Auro products do smell because of the natural oils, but they have a refreshing citrus aroma. The type of VOC is therefore very important to appreciate. Man-made ones tend to be much more problematic than natural ones (after all we have evolved with nature all around us and so we are used to its chemicals).

Why not use our Eco Paint Chooser to find out which paint is most suited to your particular needs. Our philosophy is to find the right paint for the job even if this means finding one that will not leave you with a splitting headache or a nasty rash.