Green Home Renovation: How Durable is Green Paint?

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jul 9, 2008
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Two years ago, I bought my first home. I christened my (actually my bank’s—I got one of those now-infamous 100% loans) new old home ‘Hotelephant.’ Located in downtown (so I could bike everywhere, everyday) Boulder, Colorado, Hotelephant was beautiful, with good bones, hardwood floors, stained glass and a big balcony. It was also pretty well-weathered, and covered with a few decades’ worth of natty ol’wallpaper, and 80’s era light fixtures. And so over the past two years, I’ve tried to do everything ‘mindfully’—from organics inside of fridge to low-VOC paint to natural claying to energy star light fixtures to reusing wood for window frames to xeriscaping and solarizing to putting everything on powerstrips. 

Finally, two years in, the outside blue paint job I’d inherited was falling off, and the wood below was turning gray without protection from sun, snow, ice and rain. So I called my Buddhist bros Jeremy (above) and Todd at Friendly Painters. Over the past two weeks they and their crew have painted a good deal of the front porch and facade with eco paints (eco is vital, as conventional paints off-gas and aren’t good for children, dogs, environment, that sort of thing…that said Todd & co advised that ‘green’ paints still aren’t quite up to the job for areas of heavy foot traffic, durability-wise–and durability is of course a key component to sustainability, and so we used some nasty toxic evil paint for the porch itself).

For more info, contact Friendly Painters—Todd is a good man and far more knowledgeable than I re green paints—furthermore if you’re in Boulder I personally recommend him as someone who’s on time, fair-priced, familiar with eco and conventional options and does a quality job.




About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


6 Responses to “Green Home Renovation: How Durable is Green Paint?”

  1. admin says:

    New Paint Standard Defines Green Leadership…


    Paint is one of the biggest contributors to indoor air pollution

    Washington, DC – July 9, 2008. Paint is one of the biggest contributors to indoor air pollution. That's why Green Seal, Inc. has updated its environmental standard for paint, a brand-new GS-11 standard for certification. Consumers, who continue to demand safer, more sustainable products, will welcome having more trustworthy paint choices. The new standard gives manufacturers guidelines in working harder to protect indoor air quality, increasing the number of prohibited chemicals, reducing VOC (volatile organic compound) levels for base paint and colorants, and expanding consumer education.

    For many years consumers have been able to choose from high-quality paints such as Benjamin Moore, Dutch Boy and Olympic, among others, that are Green Seal-certified. These paints have fewer chemicals and low or no VOCs so they have less impact on the environment and indoor air quality. And they perform as well as, or better than, other “non-green” paints.

    “The revised standard will step up these guidelines”, said Dr. Arthur Weissman, President & CEO of Green Seal, “and reflect technological improvements in paint and promises to be groundbreaking in the paint industry. Consumers will soon be able to buy Green Seal certified paints with even more confidence.”

    GS-11-The First Edition

    The first edition of GS-11, established in 1993, prohibited 25 chemicals such as toluene, benzene and formaldehyde. But it may be possible to substitute a chemical that was equally hazardous as these substances. Therefore, Green Seal decided to take a more comprehensive approach by using established lists of prohibited chemicals such as carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins. In addition, hazardous air pollutants and ozone-depleting compounds are also prohibited, thereby eliminating any possible formulation loopholes.

    New GS-11-The Next Generation-Guidelines

    √Many shoppers are not aware that they can increase the VOC levels by adding colorants to the base paint. For most paints the darker the tint, the higher the VOC of the final blend. Green Seal's updated GS-11 is the first paint standard in the US to reduce the VOC levels of colorants. By adjusting the levels of VOCs allowed in base paint and including criteria for colorants, the new standard ensures that even a heavily tinted paint will still contain minimum VOCs.

    √Measurement of VOCs has historically been an imprecise process. The lower the VOC level, the more difficult it has been to get an accurate measure. Green Seal has incorporated a more direct test method that produces a more accurate reading, as the amount gets smaller. The test is estimated to be 10 times more effective in measuring exact VOC levels.

    √Green Seal considers the whole life cycle of a product when developing standards. The use and disposal of a product is an important aspect of this cycle and effort has been made to “close the loop” on paint. Under the new standard manufacturers are required to include instructions for buying only what you need so there is less leftover paint. And for those times when there may be some remaining, the label should encourage recycling or proper disposal of the unused paint. Leftover latex paint, in many cases, can be recycled and made into a new product, so be sure to consult your local authorities for those opportunities.

    Green Seal is pleased to offer this new standard to manufacturers as a way to identify leaders in the industry and for consumers who continue to demand safer, more sustainable products.

    GS-11 can be downloaded at

    About Green Seal Inc.

    Green Seal, a non-profit based in Washington D.C. has been identifying products and services that protect the environment from toxic chemicals, noxious fumes and wasted resources since 1989. Green Seal is the premier independent ecolabel in the U.S. and has certified more than 2,700 products and services. Using a transparent-life-cycle assessment based labeling system Green Seal guides consumers and purchasers to make the right choice.

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