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Should You Use Low VOC Paint Or Zero VOC Paint?

There’s nothing like the smell of fresh paint, right? You may feel as though you enjoy the smell, but there’s actually a lot going on there beyond the smell of fresh paint. This is where the topic of VOCs comes into play and furthermore, whether you should be using low VOC paint or zero VOC paint. We’re going to take you through all the criteria. So, to learn more and to gain a little perspective in your decision, keep reading!

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What does VOC mean?

To start out, VOC stands for “volatile organic compound”. That lovely fresh paint smell which we’ve been talking about, VOCs are partially responsible for that. If we want to break it down quite simply, VOCs are organic materials that turn to vapor at room temperature. They’re actually often put into interior paints to stop the growth of mold and mildew. These carbon-containing substances, found mostly in various building materials, let off gasses that can have long or short term health effects for some people. They’re also not great for the environment. So, with all that in mind, the government now regulates them.

But how do you decipher between the different paint types and figure out which one is best for you? Let’s find out.

Low VOC Paint with paint roller background, low VOC paint, zero VOC paint, no VOC paint, what is low VOC paint, what is zero voc paint

Things to consider about Low VOC paint

Low VOC paint should contain fewer than 50 grams per liter of volatile compounds. That is, if it means the Green Seal standards. It’s still important to consider that when it says “low VOC paint”, it’s simply lower in comparison to other paints, it doesn’t mean there are no VOCs in the paint. Low VOC paint is definitely a safer option. It just depends on where you want to use it and your considerations. Most of these paints you’ll find are actually latex based.

Zero VOC paint

Another label to be on watch for with the is zero VOC paint or no VOC paint. This label can be misleading at times. It doesn’t technically mean that there are absolutely no VOCs contained in this paint. When you see the label zero VOC paint, it means that the level falls below the government regulated standard. This is usually at or below 5 grams per liter of volatile organic compounds.

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Other considerations 

There are some considerations to think about when you’re trying to make your interior paint and exterior paint decisions.

  • Consider the pigments: You might start out with a paint that’s low in volatile compounds, but once you add pigments, that can change. When you add pigment and change up the tint in your paint, it often adds solvents. These changes towards various tints and hues can increase the amount of VOCs present, which means more off-gassing chemicals.
  • Some VOCs aren’t as harmful: This is where you have to do your research. You might find that some paint or stain, particularly if it’s made from more natural elements like plants, will show high levels of VOC. But are they as chemically harmful to their environment? Maybe not. Be sure to read your labels and do a little reading up.
  • Smell isn’t the only factor. When it comes to picking out your interior paint, it shouldn’t just revolve around lowering the strong smells. There are some interior paints which are higher in VOCs, but they’ve simply added in some chemicals to cover up the smells. So, be mindful about how you feel around new paint. If you find yourself with headaches or feeling dizzy, then it may be time to carefully consider your interior paint choices.

So, What Is the best Low VOC Paint? 

There are a number of brands to choose from when it comes to picking out the best low VOC paint or zero VOC paint for your home. Here are some you should check out:

If you’re in need of some interior painting inspiration, head over to our Pinterest page!

More interesting blogs:

  1. Latex Based Paints
  2. Oil Based Paint Vs Latex And Water Based Paint
  3. When To Use Oil Based Paint Vs Latex Paint
  4. Decorative Painting Ideas For Walls

Of course, if you aren’t feeling up to the house painting work, why not let Home Painters Toronto take a load off your back? With over 30 years of painting experience in both residential house painting as well as commercial painting, let our professional painters handle everything. Call us at 416.494.9095. Or shoot us an email at Brian@HomePaintersToronto.com to get a FREE estimate for your interior painting project and consultation about what paint to choose. Allow our professional house painters to handle all the hard work for you!

Brian Young - Home Painters Toronto

From The Owner & Founder


Hello and welcome!

I’m both deeply honoured and flattered you are considering using our services.

Since 1987 when I was at York University simply earning my way through school, I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with thousands of amazing homeowners like yourself.

Besides the birth of my daughter, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a homeowner’s life change when we have transformed their dream home into a masterpiece. For that reason, our painters take their jobs very seriously and are committed to our cause.

At Home Painters our mission is to paint homeowners’ dreams, and make your painting experience last a lifetime!
I look forward to hopefully meeting you one day, as it brings me tremendous joy to make homeowner’s dreams come true.



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