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Lifemaster 2000 No-VOC Paint

by Cyndi Norwitz
May 1998

Lifemaster 2000 is one of a small number of no-VOC paints on the market. It is made by ICI Paints (1-800-984-5444), a company that also consists of Glidden and O'Brian Paints. When people say to try Glidden or Glidden Spread 2000, they really mean Lifemaster 2000. Glidden Spread 2000 is a low-VOC paint, not a no-VOC one.

I had the entire inside of my house painted with Lifemaster 2000 paint in June of 1997. I used flat off-white on the walls and semi-gloss on the trim and for the walls in the kitchen and bathroom. We also bought no-VOC primer but the painter didn't use it so we returned it. There are no VOC's at all in the white base or any of the colorants. The paint does contain some ammonia and mildicide, so a person with MCS probably will want to avoid the actual painting.

Lifemaster 2000 goes on just as well as regular paint. You can not tell the difference while painting (confirmed by our painter). (You can tell the difference by smell.) The real difference is the paint takes longer to harden. The flat white was fine but the semi-gloss colored was very slow (several weeks) so keep cabinet doors and the like open as long as possible.

I was okay to be in the room after an hour of drying with Lifemaster 2000 paint. I didn't sleep in the house for unrelated reasons until the paint had been dry a week or two and it was fine. I don't know anyone who has tried Lifemaster 2000 and was not okay after a certain period of time. But that period varies from none to several months. Don't make any assumptions.

Some of the Glidden line is available in regular stores that carry paint, but you have to buy Lifemaster 2000 paint in an ICI outlet. They go by various names and are all over the US (and possibly elsewhere; I know the paint is available in Canada). Call or go to the webpage for a local store. You can get Lifemaster 2000 in any color. They mix it in the store.

If you are chemically sensitive you should try to test the paint first. Find a friend with some leftover (or ask the store to do it for you) and get a sample painted on a piece of wood. I'd test both the white and the colored, in whatever finish you plan to use. Test it out for a couple weeks. Sleep with one next to your pillow (equivilent to getting your bedroom painted). You can preform similar tests on other paint brands. Find what's safe for you.

Some people do okay with regular paint. But if you were okay with paint many years ago, consider that that brand's formulation may have changed over the years or you may be more sensitive than you used to be. In general, latex paints are better than oil paints but you may react horribly to certain latexes. Whatever you do, don't use oil-based paint. It's around 50% VOC's. The faster paint dries, the more VOC's it has.

Why doesn't everyone use no-VOC paint?

Cost and availablity are the main factors. It doesn't actually cost more than other paint you buy in a good paint store. But most people buy bargain brands at Sears or Home Depot, etc. I can't remember the prices off hand but I think they were in the $15-20 range per gallon (don't quote me!). The other catch is you have to find an ICI store and buy it there, it's not sold elsewhere.

For people without chemical sensitivities or concerns about VOCs, most of them will go to the hardware chain and buy the paint they like. For people with MCS, not everyone can can tolerate Lifemaster 2000. Lifemaster 2000 is, according to their literature, reasonably popular in institutions, such as hosptials, where sick people or children have to be present during or soon after the painting.

We had our entire house painted last June with Lifemaster 2000, the walls with off-white flat and the trim and kitchen and bath with colored semi-gloss. My experience is as follows:

Are the tradeoffs of cost, having to go to particular stores, and drying time worth it to me? Absolutely. I would never paint with anything else, except perhaps a similar no-VOC brand.

No-VOC Exterior Paint

ICI has a new product called Decra-Shield. This is a no-VOC paint for exterior use. I have not tried it myself and I don't know anyone who has. I spoke to ICI on 7/2/99 and asked why their product page says Decra-Shield is only available on the West coast. She said she had no idea why it said that but it was a national product (though perhaps certain colors were not available everywhere).

Is ICI changing their paint formulation?

There is a rumor going around that the paint is changing. People have been worried this means the no-VOC paint will no longer be safe. I spoke to ICI in March, 1998. Lifemaster 2000 paint is not changing. The Glidden Spread 2000 line is changing, but that was never a no-VOC paint.

Reaching ICI Paints

Telephone: 1-800-984-5444
Website: http://www.icipaintstores.com/

NOTE: ICI is redoing their website. Lifemaster 2000 paint is no longer listed though they do still sell it. Decra-Shield is no longer listed separately as no-VOC but they still sell it (it says "west coast only"). It is listed on 3 different pages. VOC's are stated as 0. I'll add more information as I find it out. (7/2/99)

Decra-Shield Exterior 100% Acrylic Flat -- Exterior Primers, Fillers, Sealers
Decra-Shield Exterior 100% Acrylic Satin -- Exterior Non-Flats
Decra-Shield Exterior 100% Acrylic Semi-Gloss -- Exterior Non-Flats

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Cyndi Norwitz / webmaster@immuneweb.org / Last Modified: 7/2/99