Paint companies going green

February 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
For the first time ever, paints that are good for the environment are getting good performance ratings too.These paints have very low levels of VOC's, the substances that contribute to ozone, smog, and respiratory problems.

Coming up with a rainbow of colors is easy for paint companies. But going green has been a lot tougher.

"When we tested low VOC paints in the past, we found they didn't do very good, particularly at covering the darker colors," Rico De Paz said.

Consumer reports' latest tests of more than 50 paints still find problems with some paints that claim zero VOC's.

For example - the Freshaire Choice from Home Depot. "You can see all the stripes with one coat. And even with two coats, you can see a lot of the stripes," De Paz said.

But some paints, like this one, do a much better job - covering better with one coat than some do with two.

"This is one coat of paint and you can see it did a great job of hiding," De Paz said.

And the good news, that paint has only 50 grams of VOC's per liter, which meets the strictest regulations in the country.

It's from Home Depot - Behr Premium Plus Ultra. It earned top ratings in all three finishes - flat, satin, and semi gloss.

But that paint did not perform well in the fading test, so it may not be the best choice for a sunny room.

"This is the original color. And you can see, when we exposed it to a lot of light, it faded quite a bit," De Paz said.

A better choice is Valspar Signature Colors, sold at Lowe's. While it didn't earn as high an overall score, it did well in the fade test and it also has just 50 grams of VOC's.

Consumer Reports says one thing to keep in mind - the amount of VOC's in paint refers to un-tinted paint. Adding tints increases the levels of VOC's.


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