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Odorless paint- What causes paint to smell?

Posted by Victoria Yardley on

odorless paint

So, you’ve just added a fresh coat of paint to your walls and the smell is considerably unpleasant. You may be wondering, what on earth is the cause of these nasty smells? We have worked hard to create odorless paint and during this time we have learned a lot. This article will explore the smell of paint and the cause behind it. 

Here is why typical wall paint leaves nasty odors lingering in your home and the risks associated with it:


The main reason why fresh paint can leave a strong odor is due to the chemicals it contains. These chemicals are known as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. VOC’s are solvents that are commonly found in paints, used to keep the paint in liquid form for application. As the paint dries, the solvents dissipate into the air. This process is called ‘off-gassing’. The problem with VOCs is that they are harmful to the atmosphere, your health and are behind the strong smell of paint. What’s worse is that they continue to emit gas into the air long after the paint has dried. 

It is important to know that each paint brand uses different compounds within their products. These different compounds evaporate at different rates. Furthermore, different brands contain different levels of VOCs. The best way to avoid that typical paint smell is to find a paint brand that stocks low VOC paint. Notably, it is borderline impossible to remove all VOCs from paints as they often sneak back into the product when colours are added. Therefore any paint that describes itself as ‘Zero VOC’ may very well still contain small levels of these solvents. 

Risks of inhaling these chemicals

To put it into perspective, VOC solvents can be found in a variety of things including glue, cleaning products, fuels and permanent markets. There are a list of side effects that come with inhaling these fumes. 

Short term side effects: 

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Irritation of nose and throat
  • Sore and watery eyes

Prolonged exposure side effects:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Nervous system damage

Solution- odorless paint

The solution to the problem of strong smelling paint is to opt for a low VOC alternative. Victory Colours provide a great range of high quality, low VOC paints. Not only that but their paints are also vegan and cruelty free. Another issue that comes with wall paint is that much of it is not vegan. This is because some paint brands still use animal derived ingredients in their products. Even worse, some brands even use animal testing. It is important to note that although a product may be ‘low VOC’ this does not mean it is definitely vegan (unless stated otherwise). Therefore, it is important to research your paint brands before purchasing and check the ingredients. 

Overview of why your paint smells and why you need odorless paint

It is clear to see that there's more behind the bad smell of typical wall paints than you might think. When we discovered all the harsh chemicals that were present in so many products, we wanted to do something to make a difference. Victory Colours was born from the desire to develop a product line that provided odorless paint containing minimal VOCs and vegan only ingredients. You can read more about this in some of our other blog articles such as ‘vegan wall paint- everything you need to know’ or ‘non toxic wall paint- 7 reasons to switch your paint’. Thanks for reading- we hope this has answered your question of ‘what causes paint to smell’.


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