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VOC Paints 101: Tips For Commercial Painters

Apr 27

If you're a commercial painter, it's essential to know everything there is about VOC paints. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that evaporate quickly and are often found in paint products. These compounds can be dangerous for both humans and the environment, so it's crucial to understand how they work and what precautions you need to take when using them.

In this article, we'll cover all the basics of VOC paints for commercial painters. We'll explain what VOCs are, their effects on human health and the environment, and why it's important to use low-VOC or zero-VOC paints whenever possible.

Additionally, we'll provide some tips for selecting the right type of paint for your project and best practices for safe handling during application. Whether you're an experienced professional or just starting in the field, understanding VOC paints is fundamental knowledge that will help ensure your safety as well as protect our planet from harmful pollutants.

What Are VOCs And How Do They Work?

Did you know that according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from paints and coatings contribute significantly to indoor air pollution? VOCs are chemicals released into the air as paint dries, and they can have harmful effects on human health. In fact, exposure to high levels of VOCs has been linked to headaches, nausea, eye irritation, respiratory problems, and even cancer.

So how do VOCs work? Simply put, when paint is applied to a surface, it contains solvents that evaporate into the air as it dries. These solvents contain VOCs which react with nitrogen oxides in sunlight and form ground-level ozone, also known as smog. This reaction not only harms our environment but also poses a significant risk to our overall well-being. As commercial painters, it's essential for us to understand what VOCs are and how we can choose low-VOC or zero-VOC products for our projects.

The Effects Of VOCs On Human Health And The Environment

In the previous section, we discussed what VOCs are and how they work. Now, let's take a closer look at the effects that these chemicals can have on human health and the environment.

When it comes to human health, exposure to high levels of VOCs can cause a range of negative symptoms including headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even damage to internal organs like the liver and kidneys. Long-term exposure has also been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Additionally, VOCs released into the environment contribute to air pollution which can harm both humans and wildlife. It is important for commercial painters to be aware of these risks in order to take proper precautions when working with paints containing VOCs.

As for the environment, VOCs react with sunlight and other pollutants in the atmosphere to form ground-level ozone. This not only harms plants but also contributes to smog formation which impacts air quality.

Furthermore, many VOC-containing paints are disposed of improperly which leads to contamination of soil and water sources. By using low-VOC or zero-VOC paint options whenever possible and properly disposing of any leftover materials, commercial painters can help reduce their impact on the environment.

Benefits Of Low-VOC And Zero-VOC Paints

One of the most significant trends in commercial painting is the increasing use of low-VOC and zero-VOC paints. These types of paints have become more popular due to their many benefits for both painters and building occupants.

Firstly, low-VOC and zero-VOC paints emit significantly fewer harmful chemicals into the air during application than traditional high-VOC paints. This means that they are safer for the environment as well as for those who work with them on a regular basis.

Additionally, these types of paint dry faster and require less time for curing, which can reduce project timelines and allow buildings to be occupied sooner after painting. Finally, using low-VOC or zero-VOC paints can contribute to LEED certification points, which may increase property value and appeal to potential buyers or renters.

Tips For Selecting The Right Paint For Your Project

Now that we've discussed the benefits of low-VOC and zero-VOC paints, let's dive into some tips for selecting the right paint for your commercial painting project.

First and foremost, consider the surface you'll be painting on. Different surfaces require different types of paint, so it's important to choose a product that is designed specifically for the material you're working with.

Another factor to consider is the location of your project. Will the painted surface be exposed to high levels of moisture or direct sunlight? If so, you'll want to select a paint that is formulated to withstand these conditions.

Additionally, take note of any regulations or guidelines in place regarding VOC emissions in your area. Some states have strict restrictions on VOC content in paint products used for certain applications, so make sure you are aware of these requirements before making a purchase decision.

By taking these factors into consideration, you can narrow down your options and find a quality paint product that will provide long-lasting results for your commercial painting project.

Best Practices For Safe Handling During Application

Painting is no easy feat, and it requires a lot of patience and skill. But more importantly, it demands safe handling to ensure that the job gets done without any accidents or injuries. As they say, safety first!

One of the best practices for safe handling during application is to wear protective gear such as gloves, respirators, and goggles. This will not only protect you from harmful chemicals but also prevent paint from getting into your eyes or skin. Additionally, make sure that all equipment is in good condition before using them to avoid malfunctions that could lead to dangerous situations. Remember: better safe than sorry!


In conclusion, as a commercial painter, it is important to understand the impact of VOCs on both human health and the environment. By selecting low-VOC or zero-VOC paints, you can not only improve air quality but also reduce potential health risks for yourself and those around you.

By following best practices for safe handling during application, such as wearing protective gear and ensuring proper ventilation, you can minimize exposure to harmful chemicals while still achieving high-quality results. As responsible professionals in our industry, we owe it to ourselves and our clients to prioritize safety and sustainability in all aspects of our work.

Feel free to read this blog post from Harmony Painting to get more ideas about this topic: