Ask G

Ask G: What house paints are safe to use?

We all have to paint sometime, so how do we add a coat that doesn't harm our health?

We're about to do some renovating. What should I look for in house paints?


Credit: iStockphoto

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Paints and architectural coatings have the potential to pollute both your home and the broader environment.

Oil-based paints contain solvents, such as turpentine (or ‘turps’) and other volatile organic compounds (or ‘VOCs’), and require them for cleaning up brushes and paint rollers.

These solvents are flammable and can cause respiratory irritation, headaches and dizziness.

Look for water-based low- or no-VOC paints, such as those certified by the Good Environmental Choice Australia program, which sets a tough standard for VOC levels.

This is particularly important with interior paints as they give off gases into an enclosed space that you will ultimately be living and sleeping in.

Your choice of colour can also make a difference.

Lighter colours reflect light and heat, while darker colours absorb it. Using very dark interior colours can make a room hotter in summer and can increase the need for artificial lighting.