What are the best green products to use when repainting kitchen cabinets?

Question

What are the best green products to use when repainting kitchen cabinets?

Asked by Angela Gill

The cabinets are being stripped first because they've been painted several times.

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Answers

Joel Hirshberg's picture

That's a simple question, but the answer requires some basic info about strippers, paintand sealers.

Removing old paint

First, about stripping off old paint. If you think the paint contains lead, then you should test itto be sure before stripping.

  • There are inexpensive lead test kits available almosteverywhere.
  • My company offers Lead in Paint test kit here.

Franmar makes a brand new product called Lead Out which is a lead-based paint
remover that renders lead paint non-hazardous for safe removal and inexpensive disposal.

If you're sure there is no lead, then Soy-Gel would be our stripper of choice as it's veryeffective and non-toxic.

The ins and outs of picking a new paint

Second, about what green paint to use.

In an effort to comply with national codes and tomaintain market share, many large paint companies have modified their original formulasin order to become greener. Some have become certified by third party organizations thatverify a product is in compliance.

Most paint manufacturers now make a low or no VOCpaint; however, customers continue to complain about poor coverage or off-gassing thatlasts for months. Why is that?

Unfortunately, almost all certifying organizations rely on MSDS voluntarily provided bypaint companies. MSDS which stands for Material Safety Data Sheet, contains a list ofingredients that are "known" hazards, as well as other ingredients. There are thousandsof deregulated chemicals, however, that are either unknown or have been grandfatheredinto the list of products considered safe by the TSCA (Toxic Substance Control Act) without any testing whatsoever.

As shocking as this may seem, what's even more surprising is that some toxic substancesmay be protected under law by our government because they are proprietary ingredients.In other words, you can't trust the MSDS for all your information and yet that is all thetechnical information these third party agencies have to go on. None of them do theirown testing on humans as it is far too expensive and time consuming for the hundreds ofchemicals that exist in a normal can of paint.

Also, just because a product contains zero VOC does not mean that it is safe. Oftenthese products still contain hazardous ingredients not classified as VOCs.

  • Acetoneand ammonia, for example, are used in paint all the time. They don't cause outdoor airpollution, so they are not considered VOCs; yet they are toxic to humans.
  • Read theMSDS and you'll be surprised to find that acetone and ammonia do not appear to containanything dangerous, yet everyone knows their odor can cause serious negative physicalreactions in humans.

So which paint company do you trust? There are a few paint manufacturers that havedesigned their paint to be safe from the beginning. Safety First is their motto and theyonly use ingredients that are proven to be safe for humans, plants and animals.

  • Some ofthese companies include AFM Safecoat, Bioshield, Mythic and a few others.
  • Each ofthese companies makes a range of non-toxic paints for indoor and outdoor use.
  • There isnot time in this article to say which one is better than the other, so please call and I canexplain in more detail.

When choosing paint for cabinetry, durability is certainly a major issue. Most paintcompanies make enamels that will work well in kitchens. Some are oil-based and someare water-based with 100% acrylic resin. These will be the more durable than those withless resin.

Adding a clear topcoat

In addition, you may wish to consider adding a clear sealer as a top coat.

Mostcabinet makers add a clear topcoat (conversion varnish) over their paint to protect it fromfingerprints.While it may not stop fingerprints altogether, it does stop the affect thatgrease has when it's in direct contact with paint.

  • There are now a few good non-toxic clear coats on the market such as AFM SafecoatPolyureseal BP which is a polyurethaneorVermont Natural Coatings Polywhey Floor Finish.
  • Both of these provide a finish that: iswater and scratch resistant, will not discolor or fade, and will protect your paint from oilyfingers.

Two coats should last a very long time and require very little maintenance.