Sherwin-Williams Q&A with Steve Revnew

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
We interviewed Steve Revnew, Director of Marketing and Product Development for Sherwin-Williams, to get his take on paint.

How does one choose a paint finish? What should the considerations be?
There are two things to consider in choosing a finish. The first is the surface itself, is the surface smooth or rough? Do I need to hide surface imperfections? What type of effect am I looking for? If you are looking to hide surface imperfections, then the best finish is a flat. If you are painting trim boards and are looking for a contrast vs. a flat wall, then a semi-gloss or gloss finish would be best. In the past you were limited in the level of washability by the finish. With today’s coatings you no longer have that concern. When using high-quality paint products, you can choose either a flat, satin or gloss coating that all offer a high level of washability while still getting the finish you desire.

A lot of our readers are concerned about VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Is it possible to be “green” when painting?
It most certainly is possible to be green when painting. In fact, at Sherwin-Williams we look at more than just low-VOC when we say a product is “green.” It all starts with taking steps to minimize the impact on the environment in the manufacturing process. We then deliver products that are low in VOCs but also offer long lasting performance so you have to paint less frequently.

What can you tell us about the Sherwin-Williams GreenSure® designation on your paint products?
Sherwin-Williams GreenSure® designated products take a holistic look at the product. It all starts with the development of the product and looks at every step along the way to minimize the impact on the environment. These products must meet the most stringent VOC regulations while offering high performance properties such as hiding and washability. This designation goes beyond most industry standards while offering transparency to product performance to the customer.

You’re a chemist by training and education. How did you come to be so involved with paint?
It really all started early in my college days when I was focusing on my Chemistry degree. I was asked by one of my chemistry professors if I would like to be part of a new chemistry program that involved polymer chemistry, the resins in paint, and coating technology. Once I joined the program I had a variety of positions during the summers that all involved either applying paint or formulating it.

How often on average should people re-paint interior rooms? Should they do touch-ups along the way, too?
A typical home is repainted once every 5 years. However, those wanting to keep up with the color trends will need to paint more frequently. If you want to keep the walls looking fresher longer you can touch-up along the way, or better yet, choose a high quality product that offers washability so you can simply wash away the stains.

Do Sherwin-Williams’ low and no-VOC paints perform as well as regular VOC paints?
This really depends on what level of performance you are looking for. We have low-VOC products that offer good overall performance and then we have products such as Duration Home® that offers the ultimate in durability and washability while still having low-VOCs.

Were there technology limitations you had to overcome to create a broad spectrum of colors in low and no-VOC paints?
We have had a zero-VOC product on the market since 1998. However, technology prior to this did present limitations on application as well as durability. This was simply because products were formulated with higher solids to lower the VOCs. Today’s green products have new technology that takes into consideration all the raw materials while improving the durability and application ease.

What are the basic supplies everyone should have when they start a paint job? Are there eco-friendly paintbrushes, drop cloths, and paint pan options?
It all starts with having the proper prep tools such as a scraper and sand paper and then continuing on to tape, drop cloths, brushes, rollers and a paint tray. At Sherwin-Williams we have many options in the prep area that have less impact on the environment. You can find drop cloths and paint trays that are biodegradable and Eco Pro brushes and rollers that are made of recycled products.

What makes Sherwin-Williams paint different from other paint on the market?
Our products begin the formulation process by identifying a need our customers have. We then formulate and test the product with the involvement of our customers to make sure we have fulfilled the need. This process may involve the development of new raw materials but is always designed to provide the best product for the customer for the job they plan to take on.

We’ve heard that colorants added to the nontoxic base paint at the retail store can shoot up the levels of VOCs. Is this true?
It really depends on the colorant being used; some add VOCs while others do not. However, those that do typically only add 5-15 grams/liter of VOCs to a pastel base product.

How do you recycle paint when you have some left over?
There currently isn’t a national recycling program available due to local and state government laws; however, check with your local municipality to see if they have a paint recycling program.

*Our products that carry the GreenSure® designation offer maximum performance, long-term durability and were designed and manufactured taking steps to reduce environmental impact and to meet or exceed the most stringent regulatory requirements. For more information visit