Yolo Colorhouse Outside Paint from Yolo Colorhouse LLC
The first thing Janie Lowe wants you to know about Yolo Outside, her company’s new line of outdoor paints, is not that it is environmentally friendly.
by Paul J. Anderson
“We collect lichens, and matched one of our greens to this lichen, our sage, and really studied the way that the color of water in the ocean changes throughout the day with different light on it,” she says. “We collected clay from the Painted Hills in central Oregon for color inspiration.”
Yolo Outside is Green Seal certified for durability, performance and manufacturing practices and free of volatile organic compounds. According to Yolo, the formula sprays out well, and has excellent coverage, hide, durability and color retention.
But performance aside, Yolo Outside’s best selling point may be its color palette. There are 36 colors, carefully selected and grouped for coordination. “We mixed the colors and tweaked them outside, using the garage in my backyard as a test strip,” says Lowe. “We set up swatches of colors all over my garage, on all sides of this garage, so that you could see what the colors looked like outside, in full sunlight.”
The Yolo Outside palette is divided into six themed “families” of six colors each: Cloud, Prairie, Forest, Ocean, Desert and Canyon. For color testing, Yolo offers quarts of Outside so contractors may paint sample swatches on a substrate.
“We want it to be beautiful first, so people choose it for the colors, and then they have this added value that they’re doing better for their family’s health and for the environment,” says Lowe.
The exterior collection is based on the same technology as Yolo Colorhouse interior paints, a line of 100 percent acrylic latex paints with 40 percent volume solids.
Yolo Colorhouse LLC was founded by Lowe and her business partner Virginia Young. Both have backgrounds in fine arts and had been running a specialty finishing business for several years when they began creating their own low-VOC paints. Once they saw the value in combining their color expertise with emerging paint technologies, they started a new business and partnered with a manufacturer. Yolo Colorhouse launched its first 40 interior colors in 2005.
Keith Gannon of Gannon Custom Painting, a Portland, Ore. contractor, who partners with Yolo to offer technical support, says Yolo Outside is on par with traditional paints. “The coverage is outstanding. Even the deeper neutral base colors cover really well. The leveling is great. It doesn’t pull and drag once the sun hits it. It doesn’t go off so fast that you can’t continue to work with it. It’s got really good working time. The sheen is accurate, and it’s even.”
Yolo paints’ Green Seal certification automatically qualifies them for use in LEED-certified projects. Lowe lists a few of Yolo’s other eco-friendly attributes. “All our marketing material, all of our packaging is with cardboard and 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper [and] soy-based inks. Our paint cans are 100 percent recycled plastic. We are shipping our paint with 20 percent biodiesel — we hope to improve that as time goes on. We try to make an environmental statement and impact with everything we do.”
The next step is persuading contractors and consumers that zero-VOC paints are for real, she says. “Paint contractors are a little bit skeptical because of the history of low-VOC paints. If they tried it back in the 1990s, they may not have had as good of luck, but the technology is there now.”