Kitchen Improvement

Low VOC Paint vs. No VOC Paint

When you’re choosing a paint color, you want to be sure that it will not make you or your family sick.  Many paints still contain toxic chemicals that can cause a range of adverse health effects and air pollution.  There is good news, though. Some low VOC paint and no VOC paint options exist, but it’s hard to tell the difference between them.

This article will cover the differences between zero VOC paints and low VOC paints and how each type of paint is made. You’ll also learn about the ingredients in each type of paint, which types of projects work best with different kinds of paint, and more. Let’s get started!

What are VOCs, and Are They Harmful?

VOC stands for volatile organic compounds. These are chemicals that contain carbon and evaporate easily, such as paint thinners and solvents. They’re just as dangerous as they sound. They can cause a range of adverse health effects and air pollution, especially in homes with children, pets, and people suffering from respiratory diseases. 

These chemicals’ short and long-term effects include headaches, respiratory and skin irritation, central nervous system, and some form of cancer. The evaporation process of these chemicals is called off-gassing, and it can last well after the new paint smell is gone.


If you’d like to protect yourself and your family from harmful chemicals in conventional paint products, try using low VOC paints instead. Low VOC paints don’t off-gas as much as traditional paints do. They also emit fewer fumes into the air during application and drying times.

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The result is less pollution inside your home as well as improved indoor air quality overall. Below are the paint brands with Low VOC:

Valspar Signature Semi-Gloss Tintable Interior Paint

If you’re looking for a combination of paint and primer, then this is the right pick. This low-VOC paint bears Greenguard certification for low chemical emission standards. The drying time is one hour for the initial coat and four hours for subsequent coats. This paint comes in a semi-gloss finish, making it durable and washable.

Behr Premium Plus Ultra-Pure White Interior Paint

Behr paints have been recognized as the best interior paints in Consumer Reports’ paint survey. They can be used on both drywall and wood surfaces, making them versatile. This paint is suitable for all kinds of interiors like living rooms, bedrooms, offices, thanks to its Greenguard certification, plus mold and mildew inhibitors.

Old Fashioned Milk Paint Non-VOC Powder Paint

This paint can be used in both drywall and wood surfaces, making them versatile. It has a 100% silica content that allows for optimum adhesion to almost any surface. This milk paint powder is suitable for interior applications like furniture, cabinets, walls, ceilings, floors, and fabric.

What to Consider When Choosing Best Low-VOC Paint

It is very important to invest in low-VOC paint that has minimum chemical components. There are many brands that offer this type of product, but it’s up to you to choose the best one for your project. There are no government guidelines for certifying a paint as low VOC paint.

Some manufacturers have limited the number of toxins in their low VOC paint to less than 50 grams per liter for flat finish paints and not more than 110 grams per liter for non-flat finish paints.

Coverage and Drying Time of Low VOC Paints

Some disadvantages of low VOC paints include reduced coverage and longer dry times. But there are newer varieties with primer for better coverage and can also dry quickly. Paint manufacturers are improving these eco-friendly paints, although some brands may take longer.

Finish and Other Attributes

Low VOC paints vary in texture, consistency, and color. The paint that dries quickly may not offer the same coverage as one with a slower dry time. Some flat finishes might appear more like a high gloss than matte. But you can use low VOC varnish for adding any sheen to your wall surface.

Paints with a harder, shinier finish contain high VOC levels because toxic chemicals and solvents create their surfaces. The best low-VOC paint contains fewer than 50 grams of volatile organic chemicals per liter. They offer good coverage and can be applied by a brush or a roller together with soap and water.

NO VOC Paints

Paints with no VOCs or zero VOC paints have no volatile organic compounds in them. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t contain any harmful chemicals. Below are the brands with no VOC options:

Clare Paint

Clare Paint is one of the most trusted interior paint brands in Australia. It has more than 40 years of experience in manufacturing quality paints for residential and commercial spaces. This paint color is water-based, has zero VOC, and is Greenguard gold certified.

Clare Paint
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Sherwin Williams Harmony

This is an acrylic, water-based paint. It has zero VOCs and is also Greenguard Gold certified. Its odor-eliminating technology helps reduce common indoor odors from cooking, pets, and smoke. Harmony also has a formaldehyde-reducing technology that helps to improve indoor air quality by reducing VOC levels from sources such as carpets, cabinets, and fabrics.


This paint by Benjamin Moore is the first 100% acrylic paint that is zero VOC. It repels water and mildew, has a matte finish, and comes in 60+ colors. It is also Greenguard Gold certified and Low-Gloss Finish certified for improved indoor air quality.

BioShield was developed to keep you safe from harsh chemicals commonly found in paints and stains. This beautiful and eco-friendly paint is unsuitable for high-traffic areas, and care should be taken when applying to previously painted surfaces.

The Real Milk Paint Co.

If you’re looking for eco-friendly milk paint, then grab this paint. With its natural and 100% organic ingredients, plus powdered purified casein, lime, and pigments, you can use it for painting walls, floors, and DIY furniture projects.

FM Safecoat

Another eco-friendly paint is this one from AFM Safecoat. It’s not only an exceptional organic paint; it’s also easy to apply and can be used on both interior and exterior wood surfaces. It’s used with physicians to create healthy, eco-friendly products in schools, laboratories, and hospitals. It offers a range of zero-VOC paint products that seal in off-gassing and dry quickly.

What is the Difference between Low-VOC and No VOC?

When your mind hears the term “VOC,” it automatically means that the substance is poisonous to some degree, especially when inhaled. On the other hand, low-VOC paints are still harmful but give off fewer toxins into the air.

Thus, while they are considered safer than regular paint, they can still cause some health problems over time, which is why it’s a good idea to use no-VOC paints. 

The main difference between these two brands is that brands offering zero-VOC paint do not add VOC chemicals to their mixtures. But, low-VOC paints contain chemicals and off-gas harmful fumes.

FAQs on Low VOC Paint vs No VOC Paint

How long does it take low-VOC paint to dry?

The drying time of low-VOC paints depends on the brands. Some brands can dry in one and recoat in two hours, while others may require a day or two to dry completely.

How can you tell if the paint is toxic?

If you see a warning label that reads – VOC – “this product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” In that case, it is best to purchase another lower-VOC paint. Low-VOC paints do not require such warnings as they contain no or very low levels of harmful chemicals.

Final Thought on Low VOC Paint vs No VOC Paint

When purchasing paint, make sure you go for a paint labelled non-toxic or natural. Read the label carefully to ensure you don’t end up with extra solvents and additives in your paint. Check out the best alternatives before buying paint for your next project. Also, consider learning how to get rid of paint smell when it becomes too overwhelming.


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