Safe Paint Alternatives for Kitchen Cabinets

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    • Use safe paints to give new life to cabinets.paint brushes image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com

      Paints and paint finishes contribute to impurities in indoor air, as they contain harmful chemicals such as ammonia, glycol esters, phthalates, tolulene, cobalt and cadmium. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, cause most brands of store-bought paint to evaporate at room temperature. Found in some pigments and latex paint, these compounds may cause health problems. To avoid such complications when painting cabinets, stick with safe paint alternatives to toxic paints.

    Natural Paints

    • Numerous manufacturers offer non-toxic or low-toxicity paints for wooden surfaces such as cabinets. Many of these paints contain all-natural, or "raw," ingredients such as water, resins, plant dyes, essential oils, chalk, talcum, milk casein, natural latex, bees' wax or other natural minerals. Milk-based paints employ milk protein, lime and clay while plant-based paints use plant oils, algae and other ingredients. Some companies offer specialty wood finishes, a safe option for wooden cabinets, that contain tugnot oil while others offer soy-based exterior stains, water repellents and sealants for wooden cabinets. Water-based paints are scentless while oil-based paints give off pleasant odors. All-natural paints serve as one of the safest alternative when it comes to painting cabinets.

    Low-VOC Paints

    • Paints with a "low-VOC" label meet the Environmental Protection Agency's maximum VOC emission standards. Low-VOC latex paints contain less than 250 grams of volatile organic compounds per liter while alkyd paints contain less than 380 grams per liter. These paints also employ water carriers rather than petroleum carriers, the latter of which emit harmful fumes. When painting cabinets, read the paint's label and avoid any blends with more than 150 or more grams of VOCs per liter. Avoid heavy metals such as cobalt and cadmium as well as midlewcides, biocides, formaldehyde, fungicides and conditioners, as they heighten the paint's toxicity. Even better, choose a "Zero VOC" labeled paint, which contains five or less grams of VOCs per liter.

    Homemade Paint

    • For an extremely safe paint alternative for wooden cabinets, try your hand at homemade paint. You'll need one whole egg, raw cold-processed linseed oil, water and a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Empty the egg into the jar and shake vigorously. Measure out four half eggshells of linseed oil and add them to the jar, mixing it with the egg as you go along. Seal and shake again before adding six half shells of water and mixing thoroughly. Use more or less water to create thicker or thinner paint, depending on the absorbency of your cabinet's surface. Use this as a sealant for wooden cabinets or add natural pigments such as ground earth pigment, fine ground stones, orange mineral oxide or black shale. This paint takes longer to dry than store-bought paint and creates something of an uneven color surface which may serve as an interesting stylistic choice but is very durable once dry.

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