People are often confused about low VOC and odorless paint. You might have heard both the terms hundred times when handling an interior or exterior painting project, but don’t have complete idea about what they actually are. Manufacturers often advertize these paint types, but are they really helpful? Homeowners with a proper knowledge on the differences between low VOC and odorless paint can actually make better decisions before purchasing the paint products for an interior or exterior painting project.

What are VOC Paints?

The term VOC actually stands for Volatile Organic Compound. VOC compounds generally contain carbon in its molecule. Typically a large numbers of molecules are evaporated in the air from VOC compounds and they can affect air quality. Manufacturers often add VOC to paint for many reasons. The number one reason is to prevent mildew and to extend the shelf-life of the product.

Low VOC Paints:

As per the federal rules, a latex-based paint may contain VOC of a maximum of 250 grams per liter and oil-based paint may contain VOC of a maximum of 380 grams per liter. Paint that contains lower VOC content that the set limit mentioned in federal regulation is considered as low VOC paint. A low VOC paint is often advertised as low odor paint and is popular as a “green choice”. Although a little more expensive than the normal paints, low VOC paints have the same coverage ability as regular paints.

No-VOC or Odorless Paints:

No-VOC paints are known as odorless paints and they can perform as well as paints with low VOCs. However, there are definitely some differences between the two. These differences are as following:
Unlike low-VOC paints, walls that are painted in odorless paint should not be cleaned with any chemical based cleaning products. In fact, once the initial paint application is done, no-VOC or odorless paint should not be cleaned for 30 days. However, you can use a solution of mild soap or detergent powder and water to clean the surface painted in odorless paint?

Since no-VOC or odorless paint contains no fungicides, they are subject to micro-bacterial contamination. This is the reason why the professional painting contractors suggest that the painting tools not be put directly into the paint can.
With no-VOC or odorless paints, more coats are necessary in order to achieve the same results as regular low-VOC paints. Odorless paint should also be kept in a separate container and should be stored in a cool place. However, there are no such conditions with low-VOC paints.