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Do you know what’s in your house paint?

VOCs — or "volatile organic compounds" — are harmful chemicals that are found in most interior and exterior paints. TODAY home expert Lou Manfredini highlights safe, toxin-free options for your consideration.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Not sure what to invest in right now? In my opinion, you should be putting money into your home. Investing in your home is always a wise move. Whether you plan to stay or sell, a well- maintained home is worth more and is more pleasant to live in. 

The easiest home improvement, even for those who are challenged in this area, is painting. But what is different this year are all of the eco-friendly paints that are now available on the market. There are several manufacturers that are now making “No VOC” paints. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are found in most interior and exterior paints. And those chemicals in the paints are actually what makes them flow well, cover well and gives them long-lasting durability. But those chemicals also affect our air quality and have been shown to cause health issues. Most of these chemicals are released during the drying process. 

In the past, “No VOC” paints really did not work well, but new technology has allowed for new formulas that come close to the performance of the chemical-laden paints we have used for years. Some choices for you to consider:

Natura Zero-VOC paints by Benjamin Moore
Benjamin Moore introduced their first zero-VOC paint 15 years ago, and their new line takes all of their experience to create an eco-friendly paint that can be tinted using their NO-VOC tints in up to 3,500 different color shades. Gallons sell for $49.99; the full line will be available nationally by March 2009. www.benjaminmoore.com

Mythic PaintsZero VOC, zero toxins, a high-performance paint that covers in one coat and flows very well. It can be tinted to your color choice and has an easy-to-scrub paint finish. The paints retail for $35-$45. www.mythicpaint.com

Yolo Color House Paints
Not only does this line have zero-VOCs, but the company is dedicated to sustainability throughout their business. Their paints come in premixed colors and their large color samples allow you to see the color in your home; you are also encouraged to use the samples as gift wrapping after you finish your paint job. The paint retails for $39.99 a gallon and they also offer a zero-VOC primer, too. www.yolocolorhouse.com

Harmony Paints by Sherwin-Williams
Zero-VOCs that also have antimicrobial properties and are very highly rated for washability. Their container is made from recycled material and they use an environmentally responsible formula in the manufacturing. www.swgreensure.com

Most of these paints carry the “Green Sure” designation as well as “Green Guard” certification.  These programs, as well as others, help to ensure that what the companies are producing conforms to requirements that are good for the environment.

As with any painting project, remember that the most important part of the project is what you do before the paint goes on. Wall patching, sanding, priming and the use of good tools make a world of difference as to the overall quality of your paint job. If you have made the decision to paint yourself, you are going to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the project. Buy good roller frames, roller covers, brushes and a bright light. Your next painting project will not only change the look of your home, but the impact on our environment will be drastically reduced.

For more tips like this, visit Lou's site at .