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Benjamin Moore: Myths and Facts About VOCs in Paint

By November 1, 2010No Comments
Guest Blog Post: Greg Chapman, Benjamin Moore
Myth: All zero-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints are the same.
Fact: False. Some paints claim to be VOC-free, and in their pure white formulation, they are. But, when you ask the paint store for a color, that’s where and when colorant—most with VOCs—is “mixed” or added in. The deeper and more saturated the color, the more colorant needed and, obviously, the more VOCs.
There are some paints that are legitimately zero-VOC due to the use of dry pigments for colorant. But, the color performance of these types of paints is compromised because the dry ingredient doesn’t disperse well in the wet paint. It reduces color fidelity.
The problem is that consumers are not being properly informed, and manufacturers and retailers have a responsibility to fully communicate that unless the colorant they use is also 0 VOC, the final product will indeed contain VOCs –sometimes in significant amounts depending on the color. Many consumers walk out of a paint store thinking they’ve purchased a low or zero-VOC paint, when it may have been tinted with colorants containing VOCs.
Myth: Zero-VOC paint is difficult to use.
Fact: Both Aura and Natura are proven performers offering easy application, excellent hide and outstanding durability. They dry faster than conventional paint and are virtually odorless. And, they are highly washable, as well, within days after being applied.
Myth: Low and zero-VOC paint means a limited color palette to choose from.
Fact: While true in most cases, Benjamin Moore products are the exception—unaffected by the addition of colorant because the paint is based on a patented waterborne colorant system. Aura, Natura and EcoSpec WB are available in all of the 3,300 colors Benjamin Moore offers plus can be custom color-matched and still be zero-VOC.
Myth: “Green” products are almost always more expensive than their traditional (“non-green”) counterparts.
Fact: More often than not, for a given level of performance, there is still a slight premium to go green but not nearly as much as just a few years ago. As manufacturers and, more importantly, their raw material suppliers begin to use more of the newer low and zero-VOC raw materials, the prices for these materials should continue to drop; eventually eliminating the cost premium associated with green alternatives to conventional coatings.
Myth: No matter what the reality, most consumers will not buy “green” products because they perceive them to be less effective or more expensive.
Fact: As long as they perceive green products as requiring a trade-off in performance to be green, then many consumers will still shy away from them. Benjamin Moore’s goal with the creation of its Gennex products was to eliminate that tradeoff and offer performance equal to or greater than the conventional alternative. The success with products like Aura, Natura and EcoSpec WB prove that perceptions are changing.
Myth: Too many people claiming that their products are “green” have rendered the term virtually meaningless.
Fact: Regrettably, there is a lot of “green-washing” as manufacturers see the value and urgency of bringing greener products to market. Unlike those who’ve raced to keep pace, Benjamin Moore always and consistently has been a true leader with an historic, longstanding track record in its manufacturing practices and in the development of products that are environmentally friendly with a minimal adverse impact on the planet. For instance, Benjamin Moore was one of the first companies in the 60s to begin elimination of lead in its coatings—well ahead of the creation of the EPA in 1972 and its ban on lead in 1978. And, actually, the company’s first low-VOC paint was introduced in the 1990s, first as Pristine and ultimately re-named Eco Spec. So, not only has Benjamin Moore been talking the green talk but it’s been walking the green walk for decades.
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