Will repainting with a low or no-VOC paint stop outgassing from prior paint?

Asked by Kelly Peterson
Pacific Palisades, CA

I'm moving into a new home that was just repainted to make it look more appealing. If I have good ventilation, will the off-gassing be an issue? What about painting over it with a low or no VOC paint stop the outgassing from the earlier paint? Similarly, new floors were put in that I am sure are not up to the flooring standards I would have chosen. Is there a safe sealant that I can use to cover over it?


Jason Kliwinski

Answered by Jason Kliwinski

Lambertville, NJ

The Green Living and Building Center

May 10, 2013

Generally painting over prior paint will seal in the VOCs.

I would still suggest you vent the house for a couple weeks prior to painting which means windows open, fans on to circulate a lot of fresh air through the place and remove the VOCs. After about two weeks of this, you will have vented a substantial portion of any VOCs and can paint over and seal in the rest.

Regarding the new floor, it depends on what it is, wood, tile, painted or prefinished composite/engineered system. Without knowing what's installed exactly that is a harder question to answer.


For more information:

Debbie Sek recommends ventilation in her Q&A "Our painter used traditional paints instead of non-VOC. Should we strip the walls and start over?"

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

Tagged In: home air quality

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