By Robert Walton
Public concern for the environment isn’t quite the hot topic it used to be. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that all green products for professional painters fall into the same category as the over-priced, over-marketed environmental nonsense that made the public suspicious in the first place. The fact is, truly green painting products do exist and the best of them make financial and practical sense, too. Green can sometimes even help get you more work with certain clients.
Here are five of the best green painting products to help make that happen.
1. Dynamic Enviro-Brush
Why throw out an entire brush when only the bristles are toast? This is the thinking behind the Enviro-Brush, and like all good green ideas, this one saves time and money as well as trash.
The replaceable bristles are a top quality polyester/nylon blend, with fibers anchored into a rectangular plastic collar with cured resin. The collar fits into the ferrule of a plastic handle, held there by a spring-loaded jaw. Although the handle itself is plastic, the shape and length make it as easy to use as any wooden handle. In fact, I found the handle even better than most wood handles because of the texture. The surface is covered with the same kind of rubbery, high-friction overwrap that’s used on high-end power tools.
The best green products save money, and that’s the case with Enviro-Brush. Replacing bristles saves 35% to 40% on the cost of the complete brush, which ranges from $7.99 for the 30mm up to $12.99 for the 64mm unit.
2. Dyna Flo Extender
The world of latex and waterbased coatings was forced onto the painting industry from on high, and while this is a good thing from a health point of view, there is one lingering problem with latex and waterbased coatings. In some cases they simply dry too fast. Without enough time to flow out, there’s a distinct chance that brush strokes will show, as anyone who has worked with waterbased urethanes will tell you. Most of these dry way too fast for best results. Even in ideal circumstances, fast-dry coatings require more skill to apply than slower drying oil-based formulations, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Dyna Flo Extender slows drying speed so coatings become more forgiving, taming the main downside of all those green latex and waterbased coatings.
Of all the different plastics in the world, the kind used to make beverage bottles is the most useful because it’s the most easily recycled. This material is abbreviated PET, also labelled as , and it’s used to make the lint-free Enviro-Roller. These offer lots of bragging rights when talking to green-oriented clients and they simply make good practical and financial sense, too. Both the core and fibers are made entirely from recycled sources, providing an industrial use for millions of plastic beverage bottles each year. The bottles are processed in the USA and refills are wound and finished in Canada. The only thing not from recycled sources is the backing used to tuft the fibers and the epoxy used to bond the fibers to the core. Lab tests also show the the Enviro-Roller offers excellent paint holding and roll out capacity and they can reduce your costs, too. Price for a 10mm Enviro-Roller refill is 25% less than a similar lint-free, non-recycled refill of the same quality.
This is also made entirely of post-consumer PET, but don’t be fooled by the transparent green colour. Although it looks like a tray liner at first glance, it’s actually stiff enough to function on its own, without a metal or plastic tray underneath. The translucent green colour stands out as different than most roller trays, so the optics show eco-sensitive clients that you do things differently. Cost runs $2.99 each, which is as economical as roller trays get. And since it’s made of PET, the old tray is easily recycled when its working life is over.
The fact is, truly green painting products do exist and the best of them make financial and practical sense, too. Green can sometimes even help get you more work with certain clients.
5. Ecocoat Recycled Latex Paint
Sounds second-rate, but this stuff is actually quite impressive. Leftover paint is collected at municipal drop-off depots across the country, then sorted into primary colours and batched together before filtering and repackaging. Ecocoat is a Canadian company with a colour chart and store locator at www.ecocoat.ca. The current product line includes 26 colours, and the efficiencies of green production translate into cost savings, too. By diverting old paint from landfill or incineration, Ecocoat reduces landfill pressures and energy costs. Producing a gallon of virgin paint, for instance, uses about 100 kilowatt hours of electricity and contaminates 9 gallons of water – all of which is avoided with recycled paint. Ecocoat costs about $20 per gallon. It’s thick-bodied and hides at least as well as the best virgin latex.
Environmental products and lifestyles took off like most fads do, over-shooting the reality and true benefits to an extent. But as the dust settles on all things green, we’re left with real benefits that soon won’t be considered green any more. They’ll just be the way things are done.
The Latex Paint Effect
The biggest and best environmental progress often goes unnoticed because it becomes part of everyday life. Latex paint is a case in point. I doubt there’s a professional painter anywhere who longs for the bad old days when oil-based paints ruled the trade. Solvents, odours, sticky fingers – who misses that? The whole move towards latex that began in the 1970s was environmentally driven, and though early formulations of latex paints were pitiful at first, that was just the start. Today the lives of professional painters and clients everywhere are so much better because of latex. Even the performance of latex is better than we ever got with oils – and all because the entire paint industry got greener, then green became normal.
Whether or not environmental concerns matter much to you, some of your potential clients certainly value all things green. That’s why it sometimes pays to use painting products that offer environmental advantages, but only if you talk about them while winning a job. You can usually tell pretty quick if a potential client is the green type. And if they are, tell them about the rollers you use made from recycled water bottles, or the paint trays made from recycled plastics. Pull dried latex right out of reusable trays in sheets so they can see how green trays can be used again and again. Show the right kind of clients that you understand and meet their environmental values and it will turn into more and better work for you.