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wall finishes

Paint Finish

Kiwis are famous for their do it yourself attitude. This is potentially a reason paint is on top of the wall finishing list. It can easily be done by most people and doesn't need mixing seperate materials or special tools except a roller or brush.

Paint has come a way over the last few years to be healthier for us during painting, during living and healthier for the environment. Here we look at the three paint options that cause the least harm to you and the environment.

In New Zealand, two those products are labeled and recognised by the New Zealand Eco labelling Trust.

Image by David Pisnoy

The first option are natural, free of VOC (volatile organic compounds) and free of solvents. In building with healthier materials it is important to get the system right. Having a paint finish that is moisture permeable is important in regulating indoor moisture together with the walls and insulation. Many natural paints give you that option.


The other two in our view considerable paint options are part of the Eco labelling category:

  • Water based paint, with the main ingredient of water

  • Recycled paint with a minimum content of 20% of the finished product (1)

To receive the New Zealand Environmental Choice label, paint must in its manufacture not contain more than:

  1. substances that are classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction/development;

  2. more than 0.1% by weight of the formulated paint, of substances that are classified as acutely toxic or    toxic/very toxic;

  3. more than 2.5% by weight of the formulated paint, of any single substance classified as eco toxic;

  4. more than a total of 5% by weight of the formulated paint, of substances classified as eco toxic;

  5. formaldehyde and substances that have the potential to release formaldehyde during use

The requirements in 1 and 5 do not apply to trace levels (<0.1 % by weight) of substances reported in SDS to potentially be present as contaminants or impurities in raw materials or component substances.

The use of raw materials containing crystalline silica is exempt from the requirements in 1 (1).

We do think it very important for you to check out the label on paint: while the industry is moving forward, paints high in harmful substances still exist and are a potential health hazard.

Advantages of using paint:

  • Painting can be done by most people themselves

  • Painting can be done in nearly any colour

  • Imperfections in the wall can be fixed and painted over

  • Chips to the paint that can occur in time can be fixed

Disadvantages of using paint:

  • While the industry is improving, harmful substances are still a part of paint

  • The solvents in paint release toxins and harmful substances that cannot be smelled

  • The solvents in paint can catch fire and are a potential fire risk

Image by Yoann Siloine
Paint Samples


(1) (1) The New Zealand Labelling Trust, 'Licence Criteria for Paint', EC-07-13, 2015,

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