8/09/2008

Review: FeshAire Choice No-VOC Paint

As we got more and more serious about our recent remodeling project, we addressed the decision that consistently proves most difficult for us: paint color. While investigating low-to-no VOC paint, the Mrs. discovered the FreshAire brand of paint sold at Home Depot. FreshAire is a true no-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound, EPA info). VOC's are the stuff in paint that smells, and the reason women aren't supposed to paint when pregnant. They're harmful to you and the environment.

What makes FreshAire different from other "no-VOC" paints is that there are no VOCs in the paint or the colorant. Other brands sell "no-VOC" paints, that is until you tint them to your color of choice. That's right, once tinted, your upcharge no-VOC paint is now loaded with VOCs!

FreshAire Choice No-VOC Paint from Home Depot - $38 per gallon

Pros: No odor - NONE! The paint went on well and dried fast. Coverage was good, but required two coats (typical for consumer grade paint). Finished surface had an even, consistent color and felt very nice (ours was semi-gloss). Unique system of tinting ensures that consistency from one can to the next.

Cons: Price. This may improve as it gains popularity and volumes rise, but for now, a gallon runs about 25% more than paints of similar quality. Color selection is limited, though this too may improve with time.

Grade: A-

Details and our experience inside


The price is something that will be a major stumbling block for some. Our project required about a gallon and a half, so it's not a huge cost increase for us. Also, we saved so much money in other areas that spending a bit more here was no big deal - more about that in a later post.

Once you get over the price, you start looking at colors. Unfortunately, consumers are hit with another negative here. Your selection is limited to 65 colors. With other brands, you get hundreds of swatches to choose from not to mention the fact that you can color match nearly anything these days. Not the case here. But there is an upside here. Their exclusive ColorFresh colorant system takes the the variance out of the system. With traditional paints, colorant is added by a series of liquid base colors that mix to produce the desired color. This doesn't always come out right and sometimes requires tweaking. FreshAire uses pre-mixed, pre-measured packets of colorant. The powder, clear package and all (made of corn starch?) is dropped in and then the can goes into the paint shaker. No machine error due to poor calibration. No human error due to... human error. I should also note that the colors are not necessarily bad. I know that this part is quite subjective to tastes, but we found several that we liked. Some were quite close to others that we had picked out from other brands.

With the first crack of the lid you notice the lack of fumes. As you prep and pour, your sub-conscious still expects the stink to come, but there is none. it was quite nice to not have the entire house reek of paint and to not have to worry about the kids getting a buzz from the fumes.

It went on like most consumer grade paints with a similar consistency. I've used commercial grade interior wall paint before that was as thick as pudding and capable of covering quite well with one coat. I've also used cheap stuff that seemed like I was painting with watercolors. This fell in the middle as expected. Two-coats gave a nice even color, even where the edges were brushed on.

The real surprise was how quick it dried. It's easy to see since the wet paint is about 2 shades lighter than the target color. This may freak some people out at first, but I like seeing a noticeable difference as it tis drying.

As noted before, the semi-gloss had an excellent smooth finish and covered well. As anyone who's painted walls should know, the end result is only as good as the prep work that went into it. We did a fair amount of patching, priming and sanding. There were a few spots that I patched and didn't prime, and those were noticeable from some angles. Where we did it right, it came out nice.

There was a small issue with our second gallon. The guy working the paint desk at HD pulled it out a bit too early and it wasn't completely mixed. A little bit of stirring corrected it, and we were fine. We can't really slight the product on that one as that could happen with any paint, and has happened to us before.

In the end, we were very pleased with the experience. It would have gotten an A if not for the price and the color limitations. Two things that I would expect to improve with time and a little success. If you can spend a little extra on the paint, we highly recommend FreshAire Choice.

Anyone else used FreshAire paint?

**Note** This is a completely unbiased review based on our own experience with the product. We have no ties with FreshAire Choice or Home Depot and received nothing in exchange for this post. If it were terrible, we'd tell you that.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have used Freshaire paint(matte finish) and found it to be one of the best I've ever used. It went on smoothly with virtually no drips or spatters. I only needed one coat to change lt. brown to a blue-gray. I do wish it came in quarts.

Anonymous said...

I run a painting company in DallasTexas and used Freshaire to paint a entire house. I loved working with the paint. Some colors required two coats and others one coat. Some times it is nice to have a limited selection of colors to choose from making color selection a lot easier. Great paint

Anonymous said...

I just did the living room with this paint. I like the lack of that paint smell. However - I did not prime the room - and covering up a slightly darker color I have used 3 coats so far and could really use a 4th but I ran out of paint.

I also noticed that the paint dried very quick and if you rolled over a section that was just a bit dry - it was tacky and would pull off the wall. (this is the main reason i think I need the 4th coat). I don't think I will use it again unless it's over a white wall or I am willing to do the primer coat that we all know we should - but usually don't.

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heidi k. said...

This product is disappointing. Caution to all potential customers. We chose a shade of red that resulted in a shade of nasty flesh pink. While at the Home Depot, I did ask the clerk after she processed the color (using the -instant color pack for the paint-) if the odd shade of pink would darken when applied to our home's walls. She assured me it would-i.e.-be Rhythm Red. My husband spent a day applying the paint to our walls. It was awful. The color did not darken. It is a retching shade of flesh pink now. Do not trust this product!

Anonymous said...

That's a very well written and useful review -- lots of details. I'm trying to choose a low- or no-VOC paint and need all the help and reviews I can get. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I have used Fresh Air Paint. Both gallons of paint have lumps in them that show up on the walls & ceilings. I get about 47 lumps per gallon.

IS the plastic color pouch suppose to be mixed in with the base?

Mrs. (not) the Jet Set said...

It sounds like the person mixing your paint didn't know what they were doing! I'm sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience. The plastic pouch does go into the paint can. However, when they train the staff about the product they teach them how to properly mix the paint. According to our local paint dept. guy at HD they were told that you need to run it through the shaker two or three times before it is completely mixed and the pouch is disolved. We never have had issues and we have bought lots of gallons of it. I would try it again just make sure that they shake it enough.

Anonymous said...

We are using FreshAire for the first time and LOVE it! It is covering so well we may not even need a second coat. Plus the lack of VOCs helps me to breathe so much easier. Thank you! Please keep supplying this at Home Depot.

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