Brush Up Your Interior With Nontoxic Paints

Transforming a space into a sanctuary requires healthy and thoughtful choices. The products we choose to bring into our homes make an impact on our quality of life whether we know it or not. It’s true for the food we eat, the clothes we wear and even the air we breathe.

Indoors, the air that surrounds us nearly 80% of the time isn’t always safe for people or the planet. Toxic interior paints are the culprits behind many common ailments that can affect us and our loved ones—including those furry and four-legged family members.

What makes a paint eco-friendly?

Describing a paint, finish or a lacquer as eco-friendly means that it doesn’t contain airborne chemicals or gases that will wreak havoc on your health. These low-level toxic emissions are called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that leach out into the air and cause symptoms like headaches, dizziness, visual and respiratory impairment—even memory loss.

The EPA notes that the effects of VOCs are about 2-5 times higher indoors than outdoors, and if you’re stripping paint during a home project, studies show that it can skyrocket up to 1,000 times higher.

The good news is that you can be proactive and clean up the air in your home with more than just a few potted plants. Ready for a fresh start and a fresh coat of paint? Here are the best eco-friendly options for your space.


1. Clare Paint

Price | $39/gallon
Availability | Online
Best For | Trim paints

Clare Paint is dedicated to bringing designer-curated colors and environmentally-friendly paint right to your door. 100% of their paints are Zero-VOC and Greenguard Gold Certified, while their factories have low-waste production methods, recycled packaging, and water conservation systems throughout. Not sure where to start? They offer swatches starting at $2 with free shipping and the Clare Color Genius quiz to help you narrow down your options.

Shop Clare Paint


2. The Real Milk Paint Co.

Price | $60/gallon
Availability | Online, find a retailer
Best For | Child-safe furniture paint

Milk paint is made from milk protein, and is a healthier alternative that is not a water-based latex or oil-based paint, like many commercial options. The Real Milk Paint Co. has tons of great color options—including loose pigments so that you can blend your own custom color. The Real Milk Paint Co. has been innovating since 1995, and their time-tested formula is as biodegradable as ever.

Shop The Real Milk Paint Co.


3. BioShield

Price | $48/gallon
Availability | Online, find a retailer
Best For | Clay paints

BioShield is an eco-friendly paint company that offers a line of solvent-free, zero-VOC paints for interior, exterior as well as wall finishes and wood stains. As “healthy living paints”, the company strives to create products from natural and easily-renewable resources without harmful chemicals, toxins, or additives. If you’re looking for a brand that’s committed to leaving their environment better than they found it, this is it.

Shop BioShield


4. Sherwin-Williams Harmony

Price | $59/gallon
Availability | Online, find a retailer
Best For | Wide range of colors

Not only is Sherwin-Williams Harmony line completely free of VOCs, but their innovative technology also helps to purify your home’s air by reducing toxic emissions from other household products and odors from pets. This acrylic paint is GreenGuard® Indoor Air Quality Certified and GreenGuard® Certified for Children and Schools, so you can feel good about applying a fresh coat.

Shop Sherwin Williams Harmony


5. Benjamin Moore Natura

Price | $57/gallon
Availability | In-store only: find a retailer
Best For | Purchasing in-store

The Natura line is Benjamin Moore’s collection of zero-VOCs paint. It’s available in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss (and in every color that Benjamin Moore offers), and is certified asthma- and allergy-friendly! We particularly love its wide availability, so you can head to your local paint or hardware store and pick out the perfect hue.

Find Benjamin Moore in Stores


6. ECOS Paint

Price | $65/gallon
Availability | Online
Best For | Odorless, organic paints

The environmentally-friendly ECOS Paint is “paint you can feel good about.” Entirely free of VOCs, this USA-made brand offers a colorful selection of organic paints for interior and exterior walls. Used by the Louvre, Westminster Abbey, and the Getty Museum, these paints mix quality and environmental-consciousness like no other.

Shop ECOS Paints


7. Behr Premium Plus

Price | $28/gallon
Availability | In-store at Home Depot
Best For | Paint & primer two-in-one

Behr’s Premium Plus line of eco-friendly paints is zero VOC, plus it comes as a two-in-one paint and primer to make it even easier. As a Greenguard Gold certified paint, this product is certified to have low chemical emissions in your home. This low-odor paint is also one of the more affordable options on the list!

Find Behr Premium Plus In Stores


8. Earth Pigments

Price | Starting at $54 for 5 kg of base
Availability | Online
Best For | Nontoxic pigments

Another safe alternative to conventional paints are mineral and plant-based pigments that are sustainably harvested from the earth. This is a more hands-on painting process that requires you to mix the pigments with additional materials but they end result is worth the extra effort. Earth Pigments offers beautifully rich colors including earth tones made from ocher, bright oxide pigments, and natural mica.

Shop Earth Pigments


RELATED READING


Based in the beautiful city of Portland, Maine, Katherine Oakes Englishman is a writer and yoga teacher with a passion for empowering others to live a more conscious and connected life. She is a contributing writer for The Good Trade, Wayward Collective and pens articles on outdoor travel as the East Coast correspondent at Bearfoot Theory; Katherine is also the former web editor of Pure Green Magazine. Offline, you can find her on a yoga mat or in pursuit of adventure in the wilds of Maine and the neighboring White Mountains.