Green DIY Home Improvement: Painting

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For the average do-it-yourself homeowner, there are many considerations when it’s time to repaint the interior of your house: what color paint to buy, what type of paint to buy, how much paint to buy, and how long will it take to finish he project. For the green DIY homeowner, there are a few additional considerations: which paint is least toxic, how do I avoid buying too much paint, and what should I do with any leftover paint.

Paint Selection

Interior latex house paints commonly include solvents, toxic metals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They can lead to poor indoor air quality and their fumes can adversely affect children, pregnant women, and people with allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivities. The off-gas release of paint can contribute to the indoor air pollution for up to five more years.

Choose clay, milk, or Zero-VOC latex paints. These safer alternatives and other natural formulations are increasingly available in home improvement and paint stores.

There is also a new wall paint which actually absorbs VOCs. These atmosphere purifying paints absorb and neutralize 98–99% of chemicals, pollutants, solvents, and VOCs from the atmosphere in your home down to approximately one part per million.

DIY Green Painting

Buy Only the Paint Needed

Since most consumers purchase more paint than they need, use an online paint quantity calculator to help determine how much paint your project will require. Buying only what you need will reduce the cost of your home improvement project and eliminate the difficulties with handling extra paint.

Paint Storage

Small amounts of leftover paint can be saved to use for future repairs and touchups. Properly sealed and stored paint can last for several years. To store paint cover the paint can with plastic wrap, place the lid on securely, and store the can upside down in a location away from children and pets.

Paint Donation

Leftover or unwanted paint can be donated. From the high school art teacher to Habitat for Humanity or Salvation Army, there are always others who can use paint for a wide variety of projects. Check with local non-profits or government departments to see if they are willing to take the paint off your hands.

Paint Disposal

Paint and paint solvents should not be poured into household drains, storm drains, onto the ground, or in any natural water source. Cans of liquid paint should also not be added to landfills or burned. Any of these improper disposal techniques can allow contaminants to pollute the air, ground water, and soil.

If you must dispose of interior latex paint, turn it into solid waste first. Small amounts of paint can be allowed to air dry outdoors or in a well-ventilated location away from children and pets. For larger amounts of paint, use a store-bought natural paint hardener, kitty litter, mulch, or shredded paper to solidify the paint. Paint can also be painted on layers of cardboard and newspaper to dry before disposal.

Hardened paint should be removed from paint cans. If empty, the metals cans may be recycled. The hardened paint can be safely discarded with other household garbage. Then, your green DIY home improvement painting project is complete.

Funny painter isolated on white from BigStock.

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