Shop Talk with Amiel Mesner
Arteriors made a commitment to stop using oil paint over 20 years ago. At the time, all the recipes for decorative painting and faux finishes used high VOC, environmentally toxic, oil based paint. Concerns for our health and the health of our clients encouraged us to invent the use of water based paint for our own decorative paint finishes.
As my father, a paint chemist, forecasted, all the science and research during recent decades has been going into developing water based paint. Water based paint is high tech in comparison to oil.
Several years ago the California Clean Air Act became a federal law, which made most oil paint not pass the VOC requirement. In order to get around this, paint companies simply made oil paint thicker with less solvent thinners (which is the part that produces the majority of VOC’s and toxic fumes). This left the task and the liability of use of thinners in the painter’s hands – which is impossible for the government to regulate.
Recently I ran into a job that a very high-end painting contractor was doing. Their paint finishes were very smooth, and beautiful, and expensive. The common notion that “oil finish is better” is hard to break. However in order to achieve a beautiful result, the process requires sanding and painting in several layers, each one successively thinner as they progress.
However, thinning oil paint requires adding high VOC paint thinner, thus dramatically changing the VOC content of the paint. The resulting paint mixture most certainly would not have passed the current EPA Clean Air Act standards for interior and exterior paints. Unfortunately, only manufacturers and importers are held liable under the law, and consumers cannot be sure what they are getting when they hire a paint contractor.
Arteriors uses only low voc and no voc paint and materials for all our jobs. With new water based paints like Benjamin Moore Advance and Cabinet Coat by Insl-x , the same results as oil paint can be had and also be environmentally correct. Using careful prep and sanding between layers, water based paint will level just as beautifully and produce the same desirable results for woodwork and cabinets – smooth, hard and durable. And much healthier!