Two Latex Paint Myths

August 14, 2008

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Here are two myths about latex paint that pop up from time to time. In the paint and coatings industry, latex paint is one of the most commonly used paints for light duty surfaces.

Latex Paint Triggers Latex Allergies

No. Latex allergies are usually caused by prolonged skin contact with products containing natural rubber, such as surgical gloves. In most cases, a latex painted surface will not be in extended contact with bare skin. Plus, latex paint does not contain natural rubber and therefore cannot trigger a latex allergy.

However, some people may be sensitive to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If they are sensitive to VOCs, they may experience headaches or nausea. In order to avoid this, low VOC paints are a good choice for settings in which chemical sensitivities are an important concern (day care centers, schools, hospitals, etc).

Latex Paint Is Made from Rubber

No. Although named after the unprocessed sap of the rubber tree plant, latex paint is not made or derived from natural rubber. Latex paint is an emulsion of polyvinyl and acrylic compounds in water. In its “raw” state, without pigments or additives, latex paint is a milky fluid which strongly resembles rubber tree sap. This similarity is what earned the paint its name, and has caused confusion ever since.

Latex paint shares more than its name with latex rubber. Like rubber, latex paint shrinks to fit its surface. During the drying process, the particles of polyvinyl and acrylic compounds are drawn together as water evaporates, making a tight protective barrier.

Although it does not have the impressive wear characteristics of the epoxies, latex paint is versatile general purpose paint.

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