Do not underestimate the promise that lies within a good paint job. Whether your second bedroom is in desperate need of a spruce up or you're helping your daughter put her personal stamp on a new room to call her own, paint can provide a relatively cheap, noticeable spark to any space. But in all the fun that is choosing colors, don't skip over one extremely important, but simple, step: Checking to see if the paint is non-toxic. And this becomes especially important if you are helping your kid personalize their room. Your little ones come into contact with some pretty nasty things outside your home, so consider making their personalized space bright, clean and toxin-free!
According to Mother Earth News, "Most conventional paints and coatings contain and emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Some types of VOCs contribute to smog, and many VOCs are emitted or 'offgassed' indoors and contribute to indoor air pollution. VOCs can cause respiratory problems and some are known carcinogens." That's a whole lot of yuck. Luckily, some companies are dedicated to creating paints and paint products that are free of most or all dangerous, toxic chemicals. Here are a few we love.
Non-toxic Paint Options
Tom Rioux, Earthpaint founder, knows his stuff. Rioux, “a seasoned expert in paints and plasters,” fell ill after exposure from paint toxins.
Earthpaint is free of:
- “Formaldehyde emitting biocides (the standard).
- Toxic Petrochemical Solvents.
- Acrylic Polyurethane’s with TEA and N-Methyl Pyrrolidone – very dangerous to fetal development / pregnancy, has low odor in waterborne paint.
- Ethylene Glycol, a sweet tasting poison. Dogs drink it and die. We consider it dangerous. It’s in many paints at the big box stores.
- Alkyl phenol ethoxylates (aka APES) – a known problem for human and aquatic life worldwide, found in many colorants.
- Isoaliphatics (mineral spirits in disguise – Isopar is an Exxon brand name for petro-chemical based isoparaffinic solvents).
- Oximes (e.g., methyl ethyl ketoxim) – common anti-skinning agent in oil based paints that is not necessary to make quality products.
The company also sells wood finish, floor finish, wood cleaners and deck stain.
Mythic paint boasts a product that is safe for people, pets and, you guessed it, planet. The premium quality, latex paints are:
“Mythic provides and requires a Zero-VOC colorant system that maintains zero-VOCs and provides bright and beautiful colors."
In February 2010, the New York Times’ Stephen Treffinger tested and compared six interior paints with low toxicity levels. The article is quite interesting and a useful read.
Would you rather make your own paint? Mother Earth News has a great, comprehensive article that provides paint recipes.
Paint Projects for Kids' Rooms
Okay. You've painted the base color with one of the above non-toxic paints. Now you're ready to call in the designer (aka your child). The following are some painting ideas for kids' rooms.
If you're a free-spirit kind of mom and really trust your kiddo with paints and brushes, and know the munchkin will actually paint the wall rather than herself, let your kid paint a mural. Sure, it won't be perfect, but it will be unique, and all their own. If your child tires of the design in a few years, just paint over the old project and start anew.
Stencils for kids' rooms
Take some old newspapers and magazines, and have your kid cut out fun designs and shapes. Take the makeshift stencils to the wall and use some non-toxic paint to create a fun, toxin-free design. DecoArt has stencil paint that is non-toxic. So does Delta Creative.
image: Robert S. Donovan