Green and Gorgeous Decorative Finishes
by Candice Simpson

A green product or service is one that delivers comparable or superior performance and other benefits to an alternative one while using fewer resources, containing fewer toxic materials and boasting a longer life cycle. In the world of decorative paint and plaster finishes, green is most often focusing on how the quality of the air you breathe will be affected by what products you choose for various surfaces. All paints, plasters, glazes, etc are measured for their VOC (volatile organic compound) levels. The lower the VOC level, the fewer toxins in the air. Government organizations and regulations, such as the Green Seal GS-11 mandate what can legally be called green, or low in VOCs.

Like a fine wine, the beauty of a decorative finish is in its complexity and undertones. Various medium is applied in layers to achieve variation in textures and color. This provides the artist with many opportunities to create and offer finishes with lower VOCs, depending upon the needs of the client/project. For example, the average decorative finish might have 4 layers of medium. By using a zero VOC basecoat for the first two layers, next applying a low VOC plaster, then glazing, we have significantly reduced the VOC levels of the finish. Another option would be to apply two coats zero VOC basecoat, then two layers of plaster with a VOC content of 25 grams per liter for a beautiful finish that is very green!

Thanks to growing awareness and changing laws many low and no voc options are now available for decorative finishes. One example is a product line by Modern Masters called Shizen. Shizen is a Japanese word that means naturally beautiful, and beautiful it is! The product line includes 4 different plasters: Kai (meaning shell), Kyoto (a city in Japan), Koruku (cork), and Pataan (meaning pattern). The Shizen line also offers a zero VOC basecoat and textured basecoat as well as several other products, meeting criteria for LEED certification. One of my favorite is the Kai plaster. It's made from crushed sea shells, giving a sheer and luminous textured pearlescent feel. It contains less than 25 grams per liter of VOC's, and actually cleans the air by absorbing harmful VOC's that may be emitted by other materials in a space!

These products layered in various combinations and colors along with Modern Masters low VOC metallic paints can be used to create an unlimited number of finish options for walls, accents, furniture, backsplashes, stove hoods, and other architectural elements.

Incorporating green products and practices into design is good for the planet, good for each individual's health, and offers many beautiful options. When is comes to design, green and gorgeous is possible!


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