Our painter used traditional paints instead of non-VOC. Should we strip the walls and start over?

Asked by Eliot Angle, Los Angeles, CA

I am in the midst of building a small new home, trying to keep it as green and nontoxic as possible. I have just discovered that my contractor, after promising to use all non-VOC paints, has used traditional primer and paints throughout the house. I am, of course, furious, but would like to know, purely from a health standpoint, am I better off having him try to strip all the paint and start over, or repaint using natural paint over what is already there?


Debbie Sek

Answered by Debbie Sek

Santa Cruz, CA

T Paul Sek Eco-Friendly Painting

July 23, 2009

I would not recommend stripping the product.

  • In fact, stripping that paint could create more damage due to harmful dust and debris during the messy stripping process.
  • It is also not necessary to repaint using nontoxic paints; however, this step can create an effective barrier to reduce possible exposure to VOCs.

Once the conventional coatings are completely dry and cured, from a health standpoint the risks are considered negligible.

I do highly recommend increasing fresh airflow into the environment by using fans and opening windows and doors if possible. The more air exchange you have, the faster the products will cure, thus minimizing your possible exposure time.

I believe in the sage advice once shared with me: "The solution to pollution is dilution."


For more information:

Read Steve Rush's Q&A "How do you remove or encapsulate non-green wall and floor finishes?"

Tagged In: home air quality, green paint

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