Since so many paint lines have moved in the direction of 0-VOC, this is the minimum standard for me now in a non-toxic paint. However, note that a couple of grams per litre of VOC is negligible and can still be considered or advertised as zero. Sometimes these paints with a couple of grams per litre VOC are actually lower in fumes when wet than a no-VOC paint which may have a higher paint odor when wet even though it cures out fully to 0-VOC.
The following is a comprehensive list of 0-VOC paint lines that you can buy in Canada or that ship to Canada from online stores.
If you want to read more about chemicals of concern in paint and the different paint types see my main paint article.
If you are looking for spray paints, my article on non-toxic spray paints lists out Canadian stores.
1. ECOS Paints
ECOS primers and paints are zero-VOC and are certainly the most popular acrylic paint for the chemically sensitive. They are zero-VOC officially at 11 days (per the CDPH 01350 test methodology), that is when the zero-VOC measurement was taken.
This paint is highly tolerable and is my go-to pick for both healthy and chemically sensitive folks in 99% of cases.
They list their ingredients down to 0.01%.
It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t do well with ECOS, though the extremely sensitive need to air it out longer.
The paint performs well, has good pigments (good ability to color match), and good coverage. I have used this paint and I did find it to be as low odor as an acrylic paint can get and it’s fast to cure. I can see why it’s the most popular of the zero-VOC acrylics.
Would you like to see a firsthand review of ECOS Paints from a sensitive person? See the non-sponsored review here!
Air Purifying Paint: ECOS also makes an Air Purifying Paint which has zeolite added as an absorbent (to absorb VOCs). I do find that the odor of this paint while wet is lower than their standard paint since some of those VOCs are captured by the zeolite. If I was doing the painting myself, and could spend an extra $20/gallon, I would go with this option.
Free of mildewcide: They use 1-hydroxy-2-pyridinethione as a preservative which is a non-red list chemical.
Free of alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs). Free of natural latex, it has been safely used by folks with a latex allergy.
Note: Lullaby Paints is also an ECOS brand paint.
Where to Buy: You can buy ECOS Paints online from their website. They ship to Canada.
2. AFM SafeCoat
Tintable to thousands of colors. Safecoat is zero-VOC acrylic paint with no-VOC colorants. (Though the primer is low-VOC).
This is a well-known brand that has been around for longer than most others.
They make it a focus to have no hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) – since “zero VOC” means it can still contain some hazardous substances.
In a survey of chemically sensitive folks, this was the second most popular choice after ECOS, but it also gets its fair share of complaints (in my experience working with sensitive folks).
It does not have as good coverage as ECOS.
Though you may want to use AFM Transitional Primer and their paint to seal in offgassing since it does a better job at sealing in offgassing than other brands. And this is my top pick for a bathroom paint.
The preservative is an isothiazolinone (BIT). It’s free of APEs. Free of natural latex, it has been safely used by folks with a latex allergy.
Where to Buy: You can buy AFM Safecoat online they ship to Canada.
3. Benjamin Moore
Benjamin Moore makes a number of zero-VOC acrylic paints, one of the original non-toxic paint lines was their Natura (which was phased out March 2021).
They provide a Declare label for their Ultra Spec line, which lists all ingredients down to 0.01% (they are one of only two brands that do this).
Ben Moore paints do contain a mildewcide preservative (isothiazolinone). They are free of alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs).
They have many more zero-VOC lines now like ben. And Aura is so very close to zero VOC that the difference is not significant. If you want a super tough bathroom paint with added mildewcide, Aura Bath and Spa is one of the only zero-VOC formulas that meets these performance specs.
The company reps claim that their Eco Spec is the closest paint to Natura, however, it’s not as good quality.
If you want something you can go out and buy from a store right now Ben Moore might be your best option. I really liked Natura and was sad to see it go but I would have no problem going with Aura now.
Where to Buy: Benjamin Moore stores can be found all over Canada.
4. Sherwin Williams
Sherwin Williams Harmony was a paint line that some chemically sensitive folks liked. It has been discontinued at the end of 2021. The replacement for Harmony is another one of their zero-VOC acrylic paints, SuperPaint with Air Purifying Technology.
What is Air Purifying Paint?
They claim that SuperPaint with Air Purifying Technology can reduce VOCs in the home.
Based on a patent by this company, it could be that their air-purifying paints contain sodium bicarbonate, zeolite, activated carbon, and/or cyclodextrin as odor-absorbing agents. (Remember ECOS Paint also has an air purifying paint which we know has zeolite as the active ingredient).
The patent also describes possible odor-neutralizing agents like undecylenic acid, undecylenate silicone esters, chloramine-T, and zinc ricinoleate.
They mention that the paint can contain nano-titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or anatase titanium dioxide, which are capable of degrading odors in the presence of UV light. (Note that the white pigment in all paint is titanium dioxide). This process works in theory with some indirect sunlight or light through a window, but this photocatalytic process of breaking down VOCs works best when the sun hits titanium dioxide directly, unobstructed, says Dr. Steven S.C. Chuang who holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering.
They also list a possible fragrance added.
It does have a mildewcide/preservative which is not disclosed.
Other Lines of Sherwin Williams
The Emerald line is their highest quality zero-VOC option along with Duration. EcoSelect has been discontinued. For a full comparison of all zero and low-VOC Sherwin-Williams interior paint lines, see this comparison article.
Most Sherwin-Williams lines are confirmed free of alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs).
In terms of a more durable enamel paint, ProClassic Waterborne Interior Acrylic Enamel has been reported by moderately sensitive folks to offgas relatively quickly.
Where to Buy: You can buy this at Sherwin-Williams paint stores across Canada.
Behr Premium Plus interior paint lines are a 0-VOC formula; it’s the only 0-VOC line from Behr. This paint line is for low traffic areas like family rooms, living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and ceilings.
If you want to keep this in the GreenGuard Gold range it can only be tinted to colors from the BEHR DYNASTY & MARQUEE Interior One-Coat Hide Color Collection.
Where to Buy: Home Depot Canada.
6. Farrow and Ball
Despite being just slightly over the threshold for what is considered zero-VOC, Farrow & Ball in my opinion is the most tolerable paint when wet among latex paints.
It is much lower in odor when wet than any of the acrylic paints. This is a good reminder that VOC levels don’t always correspond to how tolerable for the chemically sensitive a product is in reality.
The main binder in this paint is a vinyl acetate/ethylene copolymer (VAE). The following finishes are acrylic-free (non-acrylic latex): Estate Emulsion, Estate Eggshell, Full Gloss, Limewash, Casein Distemper, Soft Distemper, and Dead Flat. The non-acrylic lines are particularly low in odor and fumes when wet.
The finishes Modern Emulsion, Modern Eggshell and exterior finishes do use acrylic polymer binders.
It does contain isothiazolinones as the preservative like most other paints on the list. It is free of APEs (which are banned in the EU).
Downsides: The matte and lower sheen finishes are not very durable to touch, wiping, wet hands etc. You also need to use the F&B primer with their paint as many other primers are not compatible.
Where to Buy: They sell this in specialty stores across Canada. See if there is a store near you here.
7. Premier Clean – Canadian Tire
Premier Clean line is the in-house brand by Canadian Tire. They claim Premium Clean “purifies air by trapping airborne chemicals”. There’s no information on what’s in it (and I looked!). Though it may be similar to other air-purifying paints mentioned in this article.
Where to Buy: Canadian Tire
Glidden Diamond Interior Paint and Primer is their 0-VOC line but colorants add VOCs to the paint so this would not be one of my top picks.
Where to Buy: Home Depot Canada.
Valspar is one of the most affordable paints. Valspar Pristine and Valspar Simplicity are both discontinued, but all of their interior latex paints like Reserve and Signature start at 0-VOC and if the store carries 0-VOC pigments then they can be 0-VOC in the end. Otherwise, the pigments contain VOCs and the more pigment you add the higher in VOCs the paint will be.
Where to Buy: Lowes Canada
10. Kiem Mineral Paint
Kiem is actually my favorite paint of all the options here, it’s practically odorless so much safer for the person doing the painting. It’s breathable, self-priming, and both matte and wipable.
The main binder in this paint is silicates, a natural mineral that is odorless. There is a touch of acrylic but not much.
Where to Buy: Green Design Center ships to Canada.