Why Does Ordinary Paint Smell?

Paint odors are an often neglected side-effect of undertaking a paint job – neglected, that is, until the paint is actually on the walls and we find our heads throbbing with pain after inhaling the irritating fumes, vapors that paint gives off while it dries.

In order to understand what makes paint smell, we must first of all understand two basic facts connected to paint: what paint is made of, and how painting actually works.

Paint contains two basic parts: the pigment and the binder. The former is the so-called non-essential part of the paint mixture. It provides the color, but not much else in terms of chemical composition.

The binder is the essential element – also known as the vehicle. It keeps the pigment together and provides a medium in which it appears at its best. Paints can have various types of binder – oil-based binders and water-based ones being two of the more frequent varieties.

Paint also contains the so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemical components which can have harmful effects if they are inhaled for lengthy time intervals. As the paint dries, the binder (which is also the ingredient that makes paint liquid) evaporates from the surface on which the paint has been applied; in the process, VOCs also become aerosolized and disperse as evaporation occurs. This is the main reason behind the very unpleasant paint smells that often prevent us from enjoying the comfort of our freshly-painted rooms for days on end.

As the drying process continues and eventually ends, all the liquid contained in the original paint evaporates and is dispersed, taking the unpleasant paint smells with it. As a rule, the higher paint’s concentration of VOC is the stronger and more pungent its smell is bound to be.

In theory, this would mean that once paint has dried completely, it will stop giving off unpleasant odors. As such, there are two basic rules which could help us avoid most unpleasantness connected to paint smells.

Rule number one – ventilation, ventilation, ventilation. Avoid repainting a room in winter or when the weather outside is very cold or humid – keeping all windows in a newly-repainted room open will greatly help with keeping it odor-free. Rule number two – remove all items from a room while painting it, particularly those items which can absorb unpleasant smells such as rugs or blankets.



Source by Jack Wogan