Paint and Your Air Quality

Paint might freshen up a dull living room or bring character to your Rincon, Georgia, home — but could it affect your health? Many factors impact indoor air quality, including the paint on your walls; here are a few paint selection pointers you should know.

The Anatomy of Paint

Paint is generally composed of three parts: pigment, binder, and liquid. The ratios and qualities of these components are what affect its performance. Pigments give paint color, and if they’re high-quality prime pigments, such as titanium oxide, they provide excellent coverage and durability. Lower-quality pigments made of talc, silica, or clay don’t perform as well or last as long.

Binders also affect quality as well as adhesion, flexibility, and durability. A good binder makes paint dry smooth and strong; in contrast, a poor binder can contribute to paint that bubbles, cracks, or peels. The final component of paint is liquid, which can be water, oil, or other solvents. This liquid functions only to control viscosity so the paint is thin enough to apply. A higher-quality paint will generally have less liquid.

Mold Prevention

Paint additives come in many varieties, including mildewcides, defoamers, and preservatives. One of the best additives is the first one on this list — mildewcide — which prevents the growth of mold and mildew on painted surfaces. In fact, using mold-resistant paint stops the growth of existing mold and keeps it from spreading to carpets or drapes. So why does mold prevention matter?

According to a study performed by the Institute of Medicine, there’s a strong link between indoor mold and respiratory symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. The study also found that asthmatics experienced worse symptoms when exposed to mold indoors. While mold might seem normal if you live in a humid climate like Rincon, it can cause respiratory illness and even lead to pneumonia. If you’re concerned about mold affecting your air quality, look into an air purification system. To reduce mold immediately, have your air ducts cleaned and consider changing your furnace filter.

Volatile Organic Compounds

It’s important to know what’s in your paint and equally important to know what’s not. Namely, VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are ingredients in paint that can cause symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Unfortunately, several VOCs are also known carcinogens.

A study by the EPA found that VOC levels are two to five times higher inside than outside; clearly, some of these VOCs are coming from paint. The good news is that VOC levels in paint are now regulated by the government and can’t climb above 250 grams per liter. Today, low-VOC and VOC-free paint have similar performance ratings to regular paint, so there’s no reason not to protect your air quality.


Finish is often an afterthought in paint selection, but it greatly affects qualities such as brightness and stain resistance. For example, matte finishes make colors appear darker on the wall and are harder to clean than a shiny finish.

On the other end of the spectrum, high-gloss finishes are the best option for heavily used spaces such as bathrooms, mudrooms, or kitchens because they offer stain protection and easy cleaning. Glossy finishes are also known for making colors appear brighter, so keep that in mind when selecting them. Satin or eggshell finishes are a happy medium, with them being somewhat shiny and fairly easy to clean.

Now you’re an expert on paint quality and, more importantly, how it affects your home’s air quality. Use your knowledge to invest in quality paint that will serve you better over time. Also, remember that mold and VOCs are real health threats; insist on low-VOC and mold-resistant paint for a beautiful house without any scary after effects. Whatever paint you choose, consider updating your ventilation system before painting for extra protection.

If you’re experiencing issues with your home’s air quality, give us a call at Dyess Air & Plumbing and we’ll be happy to address them with you. Call our Rincon, Georgia, office at (843) 242-0855  to get to the bottom of your air quality concerns.

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