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What’s the Difference Between VOC Paint vs VOC free paint?

What’s the Difference Between VOC Paint vs VOC free paint?

The rise in “green” items is a result of environmentalism’s rising popularity. This policy does not apply to the paint industry. Paints include substances that might be harmful to both humans and the environment.

Do you wish to remodel your home in a safer and healthier manner?

If so, no or low voc paint could be an option to consider. In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about the various paint types, their benefits and drawbacks, and how to choose the right one for your project.

VOC Paint & VOC Free Paint: The Ultimate Guide by Planet Ark

Thankfully, paint manufacturers have developed methods to reduce or completely eliminate VOCs from paint formulas while still achieving the performance requirements that painters need for superior results.

VOC Paint

Before discussing no-VOC and low-VOC paint, let’s define voc meaning,
“what is voc”. Chemicals containing carbon that gasify or evaporate are called volatile organic compounds. They may be present in a wide range of other items that you use frequently, despite the fact that they are frequently found in paints, coatings, and cleaning supplies.

You can smell VOCs when fresh paint is being applied. In conventional paints, VOCs enhance the drying time and application quality. However, these substances have the potential to cause respiratory problems and other health problems. This is why people should select low voc paints.

VOCs, also known as volatile organic compounds, are hazardous to human health. They become dangerous when they are released into the air and inhaled. They are harmful in the short, long, or both terms, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The phrase “VOC” refers to a broad range of substances used in paint. These include common substances like benzene, d-limonene, and methylene, as well as ones you may be familiar with like ethanol, acetone, and formaldehyde.

These substances were developed because they might be useful in preventing the growth of algae and mildew in areas with frequently damp surfaces. But VOCs are also used to speed up paint drying, which quickens the painting process.

What Is Low VOC Paint?

Low-VOC meaning is that the paint contains less volatile organic compounds. As a result, the paint for less voc won’t emit as much of that dangerous gas as regular paint.

Environmental non-profit Green Seal standardizes the presence of harmful substances in products. To qualify for the “Green Seal” standard.

  • Low VOC paint must have less than 50g/l of volatile organic compounds per litre.
  • While less voc levels paint must contain less than 5g/l and no added VOCs addition on purpose.

Do all painting applications require low VOC?

Some would contend that since the hazardous gas dissipates into the air before it can be inhaled at harmful levels by anyone near the painted surfaces, some exterior paints, which can offgas VOCs for six months, shouldn’t be a problem. Probably, environmentalists disagree.

What about ultra-low VOC?

According to some definitions, this refers to paint with 5 to 30 grammes of VOCs per litre. This happens frequently with water-based paints. However, because VOCs are used to speed up the drying process in traditional oil-based paints, you will notice noticeably higher levels of VOCs in those products. It is well known that oil-based paints dry much more slowly than other types of paint.

What is Zero or No VOC Paint?

The simplest explanation is that “zero VOC” paint is defined as having 5 grammes or less of VOCs per litre. The dyes are what give the colour to the paint that contains those trace elements in the majority of VOC-free paints. The paint cannot be deemed “zero” VOC if those colourants cause the VOC levels to exceed 5 grammes.

In places where absolutely no chemicals are allowed, like healthcare facilities, zero VOC paints are quite popular. Property owners who are adamant about using zero-VOC paint products are advised to speak with a reputable painting contractor to confirm that the paints actually used in the project are zero VOC.

There is no special drying phase needed for VOC-free paint. For companies that can’t afford downtime, this is a huge advantage. When using paints that contain VOCs, for instance, the interiors must be abandoned until the paint dries and the VOCs disappear. Only then may staff members and/or clients return to the area.

Zero-VOC paint is a kind of paint that has no volatile organic compounds.

Do VOCs in trace amounts still have negative effects?

“Trace level” refers to:

  • The product does not include any VOCs that have been added on purpose.
  • At this concentration, VOCs have no harmful effect that is characteristic of VOCs.

VOC & Non-VOC Paint: Key Differences

The question of what distinguishes Voc paints from non-Voc paints arises. For obvious reasons, low-VOC paint is not the same as zero-VOC paint, but there is debate over the differences between the two.

Thankfully, there are rules and laws that specify what counts as “low VOC.” The only drawback is that states’ regulatory definitions vary, so what one state considers low may not be acceptable in another.

Low VOC paints do not necessarily mean they are completely safe because frequent exposure to even small amounts of these compounds can accumulate over time and result in health problems. However, if a paint is advertised as having zero VOC, its manufacturer is claiming that because they didn’t add any chemicals that count as VOC, the paint shouldn’t be dangerous. However, legally speaking, zero VOC paint is permitted to have less than 5 grammes of VOCs per litre.

The EPA can regulate or outlaw VOC paints that cause photochemical smog, but other paints with labels like “no-VOC” or “low-VOC” are still available on the market and may contain toxic materials. So, instead of looking at VOC contents, look for paints labelled “non toxic paint” or “natural paint” if toxicity is your top concern. You might need to order these speciality paints online from different paint companies because they can be more difficult to find.

Features Low/No/Zero VOC Paints VOC Paints
Colour It requires VOC content if adding tint Strong VOC Content
Appearance Sticky, Streakier and requires multiple coats Smoother and Calming
Durability Can be specially if having Green Seal Certification Most Durable
Cost Expensive Cheap
Odor Barely High
Health Concerns Better for health if avoid rest of the toxic enviroments Multiple health issues and concerns
VOC Content Either 5 grams/liter or less or 50 grams/liter or less 250 grams/liter if matte/flat

380 grams/liter if glossy

Environmental Impact Healthy and better depends on ingredents Worse


· Chemical Composition (Water vs. Petroleum-Based Solvents)

It matters what is in paint. For this reason, you should choose a paint whose ingredient list is obvious. VOC and zero VOC paints differ from one another chemically depending on the types and amounts of solvents and binders used.

In VOC-free paints, water takes the place of traditional petroleum-based solvents as the main solvent, and natural or plant-based binders are typically used in lieu of synthetic ones.

Therefore, because they release less hazardous chemicals into the air as a result, zero VOC paints are a more environmentally responsible and healthier option for both the painter and the others who will be utilising the painted area.

· Paint Coverage & Performance

Now readily available in a variety of hues and finishes, low VOC paint and zero VOC paints are equally durable and long-lasting as conventional VOC paints. Many voc free paint provide sufficient coverage and successfully mask imperfections. However, it usually requires multiple coats of low-VOC options to get complete coverage.

· Environmental Impact

When voc emissions full of gases, they can harm the environment as voc air quality is dangerous. During the off-gassing process, the paint emits hazardous fumes into the air, causing serious health issues.

The most environmentally friendly choice is free paint voc. They are manufactured with eco-friendly materials and emit no greenhouse gas emissions. They can also be found in recyclable packaging, which limits waste production.

Advantages and Importance of Low or No-VOC paints

Traditional paints might be slightly more affordable than low- to no-VOC paint, which is also low-odor paint, but when health issues and the cost of treatment are involved, the added cost is worthwhile.

Low VOC paint has a number of benefits, including the fact that it emits little to no odour and dries just as quickly as paints that contain VOCs. The fact that low-VOC paints are now more affordable than they were in the past is another benefit of them. Low- to no-VOC paints are also long-lasting and effective in a variety of settings. These days, they are so widely available and come in a huge variety of colours.

  • Health Concerns

VOCs are carbon-based compounds that quickly evaporate into the air after being applied to surfaces, though not all of them are seriously harmful. Its exposure may cause nausea, irritability, and headaches as the first symptoms. Because the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system are affected, the long-term effects could be worse.

Anyone who inhaled a fresh car or home fragrance may have consumed VOCs. When the vapours enter the upper respiratory tract, the VOCs are released into the bloodstream and given the chance to affect other organs.

A common issue with VOC exposure is asthma. After exposure to VOCs, sinusitis, which is an inflammation or swelling of the sinus tissues, is also fairly typical. Burning in the eyes, nose, and throat are the most common complaints from victims who are experiencing short-term effects.

  • Friendly to the Environment

Today, protecting Mother Nature should be everyone’s top priority. Thanks to the development of low- and no-VOC paints, any painting project—whether residential or commercial—need not endanger the environment or anyone’s health.

  • Less Odours

While some people may to some extent enjoy the scent of fresh paint, the objective of the majority of painting projects is to minimise the paint odour. Less smell means fewer chemicals that could be harmful to your health. It is common for some paint producers to refer to their zero-VOC paints as “low-odor paints.”

  • Less Compound Releases

Zero-VOC paints provide lower health risks because they contain fewer chemicals. VOC-containing paints can have long-term negative effects on health, so anyone using them must use protective gear and close off the area until the paint has dried and the VOCs have sufficiently off gassed.

  • Safer for Customers and Employees

Any business relies heavily on its employees, and customer safety is also of utmost importance. The use of low- to no-VOC paints creates a more secure environment for both staff members and customers. You can be confident that your home will be free of toxic vapours and safe for everyone when you return if you work with a painting contractor who uses safer paints.

  • Affordability

Not so long ago, using low-VOC paints added a significant cost to a painting project. Fortunately, they can now be produced much more cheaply than they once could, which results in lower costs for the consumer. In fact, some low- to no-VOC paints have costs that are comparable to those of VOC-containing paints.

Disadvantages of Low or No-VOC paints

Are there any drawbacks to using low VOC paint, given all the positive things said about non-toxic paint? For almost anything, there is a list of advantages and disadvantages, and paint is no exception. The following drawbacks of low- or no-VOC paint are those that are most frequently mentioned.

Additional reagents and chemicals

While some paint manufacturers market their products as low- or no-VOC, others do so in an effort to boost performance. Because some of these solvents can be harmful to the health of those exposed, do your research and obtain a list of the ingredients.

Possible reduction in lifespan

The best paints are long-lasting, which makes the customer happy because they won’t need to take on another painting project for a very long time. But not all low- to no-VOC paints are as durable as others. This may necessitate more frequent touch-ups or complete area repainting.

Using low- and zero-VOC paint will ensure that everyone can breathe comfortably. Speaking with your painting contractor about all the available paint options will help you protect your staff and clients in your commercial space. Fortunately, high-quality, non-toxic paint has an equally attractive aesthetic as paint that contains VOCs. Remember, too, that the environment will appreciate your efforts to use safer paint.

Factors to Consider While Choosing the Right Paint:

When selecting the best paint for your home, there are many different things to take into account. More buyers are seeking for smart, health-focused products for their homes, whether it be food, paint, or other materials. Choose a paint for your home that enhances indoor air quality and has no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Health Concerns

VOCs can be a factor in many health issues when they are breathed. They have cumulative long-term health impacts, such as airway irritation and potentially liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage. The presence of harmful air pollutants has occasionally been linked to serious illnesses, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Respiratory issues
  • Worsened asthma
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue

Painting with low or no VOC can enhance indoor air quality and lessen exposure to dangerous chemicals. Long-term and short-term negative impacts on health may be avoided in this way. For people who have chemical sensitivity or respiratory conditions like asthma, low VOC and no VOC paint are very crucial.

Environmental Concerns

Traditional paint is a factor in smog and outdoor air pollution. It helps to enhance air quality and lessen environmental effects when paints with low or no VOC content release fewer VOCs into the atmosphere.

The amount of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere is reduced by low-VOC goods. The eco-friendly, sustainable solution also reduces the amount of toxins your family is exposed to regularly.

Indoor Air Quality

The levels of organic compounds are up to five times greater indoors than outside.

Although painting a room is a great way to give it a new look, it may also bring unwelcome chemicals and smells into your house. It is well known that traditional paint emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can have a detrimental impact on indoor air quality.

While the paint is being applied and dried, VOCs are emitted, but they can continue to release gas at low levels for years. This implies that even “Low VOC” paint can emit gases and contribute to indoor air pollution.

You may breathe in fungicides, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, and benzene when you smell “new paint” since they are volatile organic compounds.

Low chemical emissions and enhanced indoor air quality are the results of the nontoxic paints without VOCs reducing or eliminating these dangerous substances.

Colour Richness

How dark is the colour you’ve chosen? How much of it will be exposed to the elements? Make sure the colours will be vibrant for many years.


If you’ve chosen a deep colour or are attempting to cover one up, this quality is crucial. How many coats should you anticipate wearing? Look for something that can finish the job quickly and easily conceal flaws or dark colours. This has a significant impact on coverage, such as one coat coverage for the majority of colours.


Another important factor in choosing the paint is washability. The finish will be simpler to clean the shinier it is.

Primer and Paint

Since there is no longer a need to wait for the primer to dry before paint as both factors must be considered and can be found together.


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are hazardous substances, are what cause paint fumes. These substances account for at least 50 grammes in low-VOC paint and 5 grammes in zero-VOC paint per litre. A great, user-friendly option for new painters is the Zero VOC Ultra Spec paint.

Zero VOC Paint: A Healthier More Sustainable Choice

Are you ready to shift to a healthier and less hazardous choice for your home renovation job?  A low-VOC or VOC free paint option should be taken into account. It will improve not just the environment, but also your health and general well-being.

If you care about the environment, are sensitive to smell, and are concerned about potential health issues, you will probably be happy with no-VOC or low-VOC paints. Must go for feedbacks if looking for low voc paint australia or is water based paint toxic. Planet Ark hopes to provide you enough information of the question, what does v.o.c. stand for. voc meaning in construction like buildings, offices or homes depend on your choice we always suggest you to go with sustainable environment.

However, if safety and the environment are your top priorities, pick “natural” or “non-toxic” paint instead from voc forums. Verify that they don’t include any additional solvents or additives by reading the label, and look for a VOC level of 5 grammes per litre or less.

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