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Community and Q&A

Accelerating Paint Off-Gasing

FumedOut | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Hi folks,

First of all, thank you for the great content!

Context / Problem Statement

Chemically sensitive folks here.

Buying a new house 2 (2 levels, 1700 sq ft, built in 1928), sellers gave it a fresh coat of paint in all rooms. 20 minutes in the house and my nose was on fire for the rest of the day.
Same reaction I’ve had in the past with floor varnish and even permanent markers in the office.

I suspect “solvent” allergy/hyper sensitivity.
There’s a bonus question here: what ingredients are common between paint, varnish, and permanent markers?

I read the following excellent article (thank you Corinne!) as the basis for my plan:

I have a few a questions if you would all spare a moment.

Looking for comments / input of the plan(s) below

Plan A “Bake out”

Most promising plan in my mind. Want to make the paint sweat all its solvent and other poisons as fast as possible. 1 floor at a time. What gear do you use to reach those temp of >85F and not burn down the house? (luckily I’m in the east bay (bay area, California) and we’re about to enter summer. My plan: couple powerful (14000 BTU) space heaters + 2000 CFM air scrubber sucking air to the outside. The house’s overall circuit has 100A capacity, there are a couple sub-panels.

Found this (14,000 BTU) heater: would that do it?

Plan B Hydroxyl Generators

The game here is to accelerate the oxidizing and off gasing of the paint VOCs.

Presented as the safer alternative to Ozone. The science seems sounds but what I’m looking for is empirical evidence that it works in a realistic residential setting for paint VOC specifically.

Plan C: Wash the walls/ceilings with an odor remover / oxidizer.

Same as plan B but using a chemical like Sniper (Chlorine Dioxide) or ZORBX. Still reading to see what it might do the paint.



Any comments and suggestions on any of the aspects described here will be highly appreciated.

Thank you all in advance.


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  1. user-2310254 | | #1

    I'll give you a bump.

    Warming the house in combination with air changes seems like the most straightforward approach. If I owned the house and the odor persisted, I would consider repainting with a mineral-based paint. The paint I used on a previous house had zero smell and was very durable. (But mineral paint is a bit pricey.)

    1. Expert Member
      NICK KEENAN | | #2

      I just did a project with Romabio mineral-based paint and I hated it. It's a pain to apply, the consistency is wrong. The finished paint chips very easily, you almost dare not breathe. Touch-ups don't blend well.

      No comment on the purported environmental benefits, other than it reads like pseudo-science to me.

      1. user-2310254 | | #5

        I wonder if it's been reformulated since 2013. I painted my interior and exterior with Romabio Eco-Sustainable and had zero issues. It seemed very durable and had no odor. (My wife and I are very sensitive to a range of chemicals and smells.) The painter didn't seem to have any problems with the application, but I noticed they thinned the paint quite a bit before spraying.

        On latex paint, we painted another home with one of the higher-end Benjamin Moore paints without any long-term issues. Of course, YMMV as with most things.

        1. Expert Member
          BILL WICHERS | | #7

          Reformulated paint can be an issue. I know with the PPG products I like to use, there have been complaints with the newer low(er) VOC versions not flowing as well, things like that. The manufacturers don't always make it obvious when they reformulate their products, either, which can result in some "this was great last time, what's going on this time!?" problems.

          Mixing in some retarder/extender can often help, since it slows down drying and allows for better leveling. That might be something to try with a problematic paint product. Thinning sometimes helps too -- I know it makes a BIG difference with polyurethane, for example.


          1. FumedOut | | #9

            Thank you for the additional input.
            Any experience with paint additives such as Zorbx?

    2. FumedOut | | #8

      Thank you Steve. Repainting is a backup plan. There's a zeolite based paint from Ecospaint I have lined up.

  2. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #3

    Do you know what kind of paint they used? Normal latex interior paint is pretty inert. It doesn't "dry" in the sense that something is evaporating, the liquid latex reacts chemically with air to change from a liquid to a solid. You may get some reaction products evaporating but that should stop as soon as the paint is dry.

    If it's not latex paint then you need to find out what it is.

    In any case, you don't want to go into any remediation shooting blind. You can get a hand-held indoor air quality meter pretty cheaply, take some readings and see if you can identify what the pollutants are. You want to be able to know when you have fixed the problem, and you don't want to be relying solely on your nose.

    It's very possible that the paint isn't the problem. You may smell the paint because it's fresh, but there may be something else that you don't smell that's causing the sensitivity.

    1. FumedOut | | #10

      Thank you for the input DCContrarian.
      I do not know yet what type of paint they used. I assume it is not an eco friendly paint because the painting was done for Staging the house and they probably went with the cheapest. I doubt there was any attention paid to chemical offgasing.

      I do plan to use a VOC meter as you suggest. I plan on logging data during the bake out to measure the effect of successive "sessions".
      This one is my pick:

      Went through the inspection report, the bathroom was redone and there's thermal bat insulation in the attic. Those will be the next targets if I'm not getting result targeting the paint.

  3. charlie_sullivan | | #4

    I agree that heat and ventilation is the best solution. Ideally, you'd ventilation with HRV to avoid needing as much heat input, but I don't know that you can rent a large HRV system.

    1. FumedOut | | #11

      Thank you for the suggestion Charlie.
      I am considering an HRV/ERV as a follow up however I need to bring the rate of VOC off-gasing down first as I have experienced that the amount of off-gasing can easily "outpace" the amount of fresh air brought in, even with open windows and fans.

  4. mdhomeowner | | #6

    One thing with bake outs is that you don't want to keep the heated air in for too long, or the offgassed chemicals may soak into other things. Once you get the house up to temp, start sucking air out and see how high you can keep it.

    Some people say you shouldn't let it "bake" for more than an hour. Some say 24 hours. I haven't found any concrete science one way or another.

    1. FumedOut | | #12

      Thank you MDhomeowner, to your point there is indeed a fair amount of variation in the data about cycle duration. I have found this white paper
      Still trying to digest the content but it seems that 4h at ~100F followed by high air exchange is a good spot.

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