Zero VOC paints

I spent the holiday weekend preparing my daughter’s “big girl room” and a lot of that was spent prepping and painting.  ( fortunately, most of the painting was done by my family )

For prepping the room, we pulled out a bunch of paint tools that have been kept in a box in the garage.  After putting them in the bedroom, my super sensitive sniffer detected nasty fumes.  After further investigation, I realized that some paint thinner had been put in the paint box and had leached smell into EVERYTHING in the box.  I immediately threw it all out and went off to the store to purchase new materials.

Eco friendly materials have made their way into the paint world as I found recycled nylon bristle paint brushes, recycled knit roller covers and biodegradeable paint trays.  I had planned to use Benjamin Moore’s Natura Paint, a zero VOC paint, but every store carrying Benjamin Moore paint was closed on Sunday.  So, I wandered over to Sherwin Williams and picked up paint in their Harmony line, also a zero VOC paint.  ( read this postif you wonder why you should even care about VOCs )

I’m not a paint critic and probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between $5 paint and $50 paint but there are 2 things that I do notice: coverage and smell.  The Harmony paint was great, it didn’t dry too quickly or tacky and required 2 coats.  The one thing I didn’t expect was the smell.  While the smell wasn’t as stinky as normal paint jobs, it was still there.  With a little research, I found that Sherwin William’s website does note that Harmony paint is ‘low odor’.  It lives up to it’s claim – low odor, not no odor. 

At the last minute, I decided to add a couple pink stripes to the room using Benjamin Moore’s Aura paint that I already had.  Aura is a low-VOC paint.   The Aura paint had the opposite problem of the Harmony paint.  It had very, very little odor ( they claim it is ‘low odor’ ), but it dries very fast and is somewhat tacky.  I had to make sure that I got to drips very quickly. 

Overall, I’m thrilled with the way the room turned out but a little disappointed in the lingering smell.  I will be keeping the room empty and the windows open for several more days, at least. 

Next up is repainting the nursery for my son, due this fall.  I’ll plan things a little better and make sure I can pick up the Natura paint from Benjamin Moore for his room.  While the Natura paint is more expensive than the Harmony, Benjamin Moore claims that it is ‘virtually odorless’ and emits lower total volatile compounds than any other zero-VOC paint – I want to see if that’s true.

Anyone tried other zero-VOC paints they can recommend?



  1. When we bought our house last year we painted (had someone paint) many of the rooms with Harmony before moving in. I was really surprised with how much odor it caused and was glad we weren’t living there when we painted, because we had a little one and I was pregnant.

    We ended up painting (had someone paint) a couple of ceilings a few months after we moved in. The guy we used said he preferred the Acro Pure paint by Miller, which is zero VOC. Although there was still a little odor, I remember thinking it was a lot better than the Harmony.

    I havne’t used Benjamin Moore’s to compare, but I’d feel comfortable using the Miller again.

  2. We used Olympics Premium Zero VOC paint 6 weeks ago in my daughter’s room and it still has a terrible sour odor, the room is unusable. The paint company told us to cover it with Zinnser and re-paint, but Zinnser contains a great deal of chemicals. We are very upset to say the least.

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