Painting or repainting a house is one of the most common ways of adding color and improving the ambiance of a room. However, one drawback of using paint is the smell it leaves in the rooms where it has been applied. Other than the fact that the smell itself is quite pungent and unpleasing, the chemical compounds in the vapor that is released are harmful to one’s health especially for those with weak immune systems.
What Causes The Pungent Smell Of Paint?
With that in mind, the question that pops up is the cause of this particular… SMELL!
The answer to this has to do with some compounds found in paint that are called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). As the name suggests, these are compounds that are volatile which means that they easily evaporate into the atmosphere. While most other things organic are known to have great benefits, VOCs are extremely harmful and are the cause of headaches and dizziness when you get into a recently painted room.
The smell comes about when the VOCs that are part of the paint evaporate into the atmosphere after some painting has been done. What we call the smell of fresh paint is quite literally VOC fumes that are still in the air. It goes without saying that long exposure to VOCs is highly dangerous and can lead to severe complications later on. However, the few minutes of exposure that many people experience has no significant health effects.
There are different types of paints with varying levels of VOCs. Regular paint is normally the cheapest and usually has high levels of VOCs. The raw materials that are used to make regular paint contain VOCs in high volumes. Due to the high content of these volatile compounds, regular paint tends to smell for longer periods than other types of paints. For regular paint, the smell could last for up to a month for poorly ventilated rooms. This is however on the extreme side with the average time for the smell to completely dissipate is about 14-24 weeks. To speed up the process, make sure that the room is well ventilated as the paint dries up.
Low VOC Paint
Low VOC paint is made so that the VOCs and the smell can quickly dissipate. While regulations mandate regular paint to contain a maximum of about 300g of VOC per 1 liter of paint, low VOC paint is made by reducing the quantity to less than 50 grams per liter. Therefore, the smell is much less irritating and the health effects are greatly reduced. Low VOC paint typically takes a few days to completely dissipate after the paint has been applied. If the room is well ventilated, the process could take about three or four days. Basically, as soon as the paint is dry, it is safe to be in the room without the fear of inhaling harmful VOCs. Low VOC paint is much more expensive than regular paint.
Zero VOC Paint
VOCs were a necessity in paint manufacturing and that is the reason they have been used despite the risk they pose. However, recent advancements in technology have made it possible to make paint with no VOC in it. Zero VOC paint is made using different techniques that eliminate the need for VOCs in the paint and make them much safer. With no VOC, rooms painted using such paints are safe to live in once the paint is dry. If the roo takes two days to dry, you can pretty much move in on the 3rd day after painting the room. The downside is that they are much more costly but considering the safety they provide, the few extra dollars are worth it.
How To Quickly Dissipate The Smell of Paint In A Room
If you want to speed up the rate at which the smell of paint will be alleviated, there are a few tricks to help you out. You can use some ground charcoal to absorb the VOCs from the air which will quickly reduce the smell. Put some ground charcoal around the room and close to the painted surfaces for the smell to quickly dissipate.
If you cannot get charcoal, it is still possible to use some home items such as baking soda, vinegar, onions, vanilla extracts, water and even coffee beans to expedite the absorption of the VOCs and to dissipate the irritating smell.