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Does Paint Off-Gas After it’s Dry?


Hello. When painting walls, does the paint continue to off-gas VOCs long after it’s dry? Trying to figure out how safe our home will be when we move back in (we won’t be exposed to any wet paint). Thank you!


There’s no cut and dry answer to this commonly asked question. How long paints off-gas depends on many variables, such as the type of paint (oil or water-based, flat or enamel, the VOC content, etc), the surface being painted (wood, metal, drywall), the climate (humid or dry), and ventilation.

According to David Johnston in Green Remodeling, “You apply the wet paint and several hours later, the paint is dry. During the drying period, the volatile solvent in the paint vaporizes to a gas, known as “off-gassing,” leaving the non-volatile portion of the paint on the wall. Most VOCs are released into the air during this off-gassing period. You should open windows and use fans to move the VOCs out of your indoor air as quickly as possible. Turning up the heat also makes the paint dry and offgas faster. The rate of off-gassing dissipates dramatically within a few days. However, the paint may continue to offgas small amounts for the lifetime of the paint, especially as the paint begins to age and chip small flecks of paint that can become trapped in your rug. It is best to avoid VOCs altogether when you are buying paints or any other products for your home.”

That said, it’s important to consider the off-gassing of all the products and finishes in an enclosed area, and not just the paint, when reducing toxicity to improve indoor air quality.

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