The healthiest choice for painting the walls is a paint that has Zero Lead, and Zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Typically, as many of us remember, paint has a smell to it. This odor is caused by the chemicals in the paint and can, in places with no ventilation, be hazardous to your health in large amounts.
Avoiding any VOCs in paint, today, is rather easy. All major home improvement stores carry paint without these VOCs and they come in thousands of custom colors for your walls. You can get what you want at a great price and without any risks to the indoor air quality of your home.
Why are VOCs bad in the Basement?
Like any smell or odor, the basement can trap them in and let them build up. Basements or crawl spaces aren't normally very well ventilated, nor do they have proper air circulation. This allows any air bound chemical to build up (in parts per million) and become stronger and more potent.
If you have mold or odors in the basement anyway, adding to them with a stench of VOCs filled paints isn't going to help you to breath any easier.
What if I'm looking to finish and have odors in the basement already?
Most likely there is something causing these odors in the first place.
Mold and dry rot are the two most common causes for odors in the basement. If ether one of these exist, finishing or remodeling the basement shouldn't be your top priority. Getting control of the smell through air circulation and filtration are a good first step.
Moisture plays a key roll in the formation of mold and dry rot and should be taken seriously. Controlling the moisture or possible leaks and flooding can protect the finished space from damage and from future mold and dry rot. Installing a waterproofing system can help control moisture while helping to correct the conditions of the basement that are causing the odors and smells.
Related Reading and Links
Read about the Top 6 Basement Mistakes that contractors and homeowners make. See what other readers have asked in Safe'n'Dry Basement Blog's Reader Questions Section
Ask Pioneer Basement a question Directly on Pioneer Basement's Help Forums!