Low VOC Paints

Low VOC Paints

People throw the term VOC around a lot at the moment so we thought we would pull together a handy guide with what you need to know about VOCs - aka Volatile Organic Compounds and low VOC paints!”

While we’re all decorating our homes, it’s only natural that we think about our shared home; the earth. 

Traditionally, decorating hasn’t been the greenest of industries. Years ago, the vast majority of paints most likely contained some form of chemical that wasn’t great for the planet. 

Fast forward, and legislation has caught up and as an industry, the push to make decorating greener is well and truly underway. From sustainable tools, to FSC wallpaper to paint that doesn’t contain a load of nasties. The nasties being something called VOCs - which stands for “Volatile Organic Compounds”. 

We’re a marketplace, offering a variety of different trade brands. We sell trade paint because it’s better quality (greater opacity so you need less of it and less coats, a nicer finish and longer lasting which means you don’t have to redecorate as often). Customers are surprised to learn that apart from the odd specialist solution, the majority of brands and paints we stock are low VOC paint.


@home_on_the_commons - Colour Match ntb274

You get a lot of brands shouting big sustainability claims. The reality is that their formulas have just been changed to keep up with new legislation. At DCO you’ll find no greenwashing. We’re very upfront and honest about our eco credentials and those of the brands we sell. The fact is, paint is a chemical, so you have to be careful about what you buy and choose to put in your home. Our policy? If we wouldn’t have it on our walls around our family, we won’t sell it. 


So, what are Volatile Organic Compounds?

Ready for a chemistry lesson? VOCs are everywhere. While VOCs they’re typically spoken about with regards to paint, they’re used in lots of industries. You’ll find them in everything from building materials, to soaps and cleaning products. They’re used in paint because they decrease dry time and help the paint cling to walls better. 

Volatile organic compounds turn into vapours and gases when they reach room temperature. As a rule of thumb, water based paints don’t contain many VOCs, while oil based paints probably contain more. You know that ‘new paint smell’? Yeah, that’s VOCs. The chemicals they give off pollute the environment. They can contain carcinogens and be harmful to your health from irritation to your airways, headaches, nausea, and even damage to the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system. This is why we only stock trusted brands, and give our customers a selection of low VOC or zero VOC paint. 

Low VOC paints are those classed with less than 50 grams of VOC per litre of paint. Between 5-30 g/l is classed as Ultra Low VOC. Anything below 5g/l is classed as Zero VOC.

So how do you decide what to choose?

Really, it comes down to personal preference and your needs! As we mentioned all of our emulsions and most of our specialist paints are water based low VOC so you have a huge selection to choose from! Here are a few in more detail and why we love them!

Tikkurila Joker

If you’re someone who suffers from asthma or allergies, or is pregnant, we wouldn’t go past choosing Tikkurila Joker. This hypoallergenic high performance matt emulsion has zero odour and is eco friendly, in addition to being tintable to thousands of colours so a really great choice!



Tikkurila Nature 5 and 7

Tikkurila is known for being an innovative paint brand and their latest products to launch really highlight this! Their Nature 5 (matt) and 7 (satin matt) both contain plant based ingredients to improve their ECO credentials. Optiva Nature 5 is a highly durable, scrub resistant matt paint for interior walls  bringing the well known and loved Optiva, but with less fossil content and zero VOCs (rather than Optiva’s low VOC content). Also a great option for Asthma and Allergy sufferers similar to the Joker product!


@briony.kasper.quinn - Colour Match ntb22


Leyland Trade Vinyl Matt

We’ve been championing Leyland Trade products since our website began for their high quality, great value and great colour matching capabilities! The vinyl matt has only 3g per litre of VOC with the threshold to hit a ‘low VOC’ credential being less than 50g per litre. A gorgeous flat matt finish that’s great for use in rooms such as your living room or bedroom! If you need something scrubbable then the fantastic Leyland Hardwearing Matt is also low VOC at just 13g per litre.


@greystone_orchard_reno - gypsy beads


Johnstone’s Trade Covaplus Vinyl Matt

A number of Johnstone’s trade products carry an eco label highlighting the eco credentials of their products. Similarly to the Leyland Vinyl Matt, the Covaplus is at just 3g per litre VOC with the scrubbable matt finish sitting at just 10g per litre.


@ourhome_upnorth - Colour Match lg clay deep


Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Wall Paint

As you can imagine (as we stock a lot of brands!) I could go on for quite some time through our various low VOC paint offerings so I’m going to stop at this last one for now… The Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Wall paint is hugely popular due to being a gorgeous flat and chalky finish that is scrubbable and durable and in addition to these key benefits, you guessed it it's also low VOC!  A maximum of 30g per litre VOC content in the paint means it’s still a really safe and eco friendly product but with all of the benefits of being high quality, great value and a fantastic range of on trend colours!


@ourneutralground - Rust- Oleum Chalky Finish Wall Paint- Steamed Milk


Hopefully this has helped to de-mystify paint and the well used term VOC for you a little and highlighted that most of the paint we see around us today fits the fantastic standards we have around us to protect ourselves and our planet. Next up, I’ll share with you the various ways we can see these paint manufacturers making sustainable and responsible choices in their processes. I’ve also recently shared a blog on the safe responsible ways in which we can dispose of our paint which you can read HERE

As always if you have any questions from anything we’ve discussed here or in general then just drop us an email, call, DM, chat or even a whatsapp (we’re so modern these days!) 

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