Non Toxic Paint vs. Zero and Low VOC Paint
Is zero and low VOC paint also non toxic paint? Zero Voc and Low VOC paint products, available from most paint manufacturers, are not necessarily free from all toxins. Many of these low VOC paint products still contain some amount of noxious chemicals, albeit far less than conventional paints.

Zero and Low VOC paint is composed of similar ingredients to those of traditional paint.

  • Vehicle (carrier)
  • Binders
  • Pigments
  • Additives

Fungicides and preservatives are a common example of toxic chemicals added to many low and zero VOC paints to resist mildew and lengthen the shelf life of the products. These additives can have a negative effect on the indoor air quality.

Non Toxic Paints/Natural Finishes
Non toxic and natural finishes include paints, penetrating oils and wood stains, sealers and glazes, waxes, and pigments all made from natural ingredients. Because they are non toxic, they do not have a negative effect on indoor air quality, health, and the environment.

A variety of non toxic paints and natural finishes are available. Paints and sealers are designed to be applied over porous and non-porous surfaces including existing paint coatings. Penetrating oils, wood stains, and waxes are best used over porous substrates, such as unfinished wood.

Non Toxic Paint
Non toxic paint is a zero VOC product without toxic additives. Zero VOC colorants are used for tinting. These paints are very low odor with no off-gassing after cure. They are available in many colors. Methods of paint application are the same as those used with traditional paint products.

Milk Paint
Milk Paint is a paint product made from water, milk protein (milk casein), lime (calcium), clay, and pigments (finely ground earth and minerals). Milk paint comes in a powder form because of the limited shelf life of any liquid milk product. You should add water only when you are ready to use it. Try to mix the proper quantity to avoid waste.

Milk paint is available in a wide variety of colors. These colors can also be intermixed to create an endless number of custom colors.

The amount of water you add to the milk paint allows you to control the consistency of the paint. Milk paint can be made into a wash, stain, or an opaque coating. This presents many possibilities.

A milk paint wash or stain can be applied to unfinished wood. Additional coats may be added to achieve the amount of desired transparency. You can also apply a milk paint wash or stain of a particular color to unfinished wood and add another coat of wash or stain in a different color to create a custom look.

Milk paint can either stand alone or it can be top coated with clear sealer coats. When creating custom looks and colors it is best to first make a sample.

Milk paint products are also available for walls and ceilings. These paints can be applied to new or existing painted surfaces.

Clay Paint
Clay Paint is a paint product primarily made from water, clay, and chalk. It can be applied over existing paint coatings or to new drywall, plaster, and masonry surfaces. Its earth tone colors give it a natural plaster look. Clay paint is best applied with a paint brush and roller.

As with many natural finishes, clay paints cannot stand up to heavy usage. It is not a waterproof coating. Clear glazes or sealers can be applied over clay paint coatings to increase durability and add protection.

Penetrating Oils
Penetrating oils are used to protect and preserve wood products. These natural oils are made from plants and seeds. Penetrating oils are best used on new wood or unsealed old wood that is porous enough to allow the oil to penetrate.

Apply any penetrating oil with a stain applicator or paint brush. Wait a few minutes for the oil to penetrate into the pores of the wood before wiping away the excess. Do not allow the oil to set up before wiping. Additional coats may be necessary to completely seal certain types of wood. Buffing an oil finish that has completely dried will increase its sheen. Repeating the process with multiple coats will lead to a higher gloss finish.

Oily rags are combustible. Soak any rags in water and dispose of properly.

Sealers and Glaze Coats
Sealers and glazes are typically used as protective coatings. They can be used on woodwork over washes, stains, and paints. They can also be used to protect wall coatings such as clay type paints. Pigmented glazes work well to create special effects on woodwork and walls.

Organic plant based waxes and bee’s wax are natural products that can be used as a wood finish. They can be applied over penetrating oil finishes or to unfinished wood. Multiple coats can be applied to achieve a greater luster. Some wax products contain natural pigments that add color to the wax. These can also be used as toners.

Final Thoughts
Because of increasing demand, a greater array of non toxic products has become available in recent years. Some of the leading manufacturers of non toxic paint products include AFM Safecoat, Bioshield, Old Fashioned Milk Paint, and The Real Milk Paint Company.

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Professional Painting, Inc. is a full service painting company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988.