Modern gloss paints - low VOC formula. I have the runs ;¬)

I own an 1890's house. It requires pretty much constant maintenance, especially as we had a house fire soon after moving in. That didn't really help with the decorating side of things, unless you like the look of charcoal. DiY electrics eh? We should have sued but the fire happened a few years after we moved in - an underspecified cable had been quietly simmering away underneath some electricians tape for years. Ooops, I digress; modern VOC paints. I can't get on with them at all. They seem really thin to me, and never, ever go off. Sure they form a dry-to-touch skin really quickly, but underneath they remain tacky for months on end. This doesn't half hold jobs up.

I'm pretty careful how I apply paint - OK for this read as I'm a bit mean and apply it sparingly. When I've finished a job it looks OK; not too thick, not too thin, no runs. But a few hours later, after the skin has formed the paint seems to gather underneath and then drip, forming annoying runs in odd places. I've no idea why; my brushes are clean when I start, I spend days prepping the area, and I use a base coat from the same manufacturer. There aren't loads of runs you hear, just a few. A few years ago I'd wait a week, then sand them down and top coat that bit of the work quite happily. But now you seem to get the odd run and when trying to sand it down all you reveal is a wet undercoat that subsequently drags across the whole job. I find that now if I have a run then that whole section really needs sanding right back and it's just a waste of time. Low VOC is fine if you want to save the planet, but I just want to paint my staircase - give me good old high VOC, preferrably full of lead, any day. I'm pretty sure I couldn't care less what happens to planet earth once I'm dead.

The other thing is, if you try a really good quality brand of paint, those in the £20 a litre category and above, often they refuse to go off for weeks. I painted a sign board with some form of £30 "eco, save planet earth for our children" paint and it was still tacky two months later. It didn't run though, so I should be thankful for that. A chap at work has mentioned he's been having trouble with paint refusing to go off, so via this purely anecdotal evidence I consider my point proven; low VOC paint is pants.

Oh and my signboard? A year later I decided it needed refreshing. Do you know what? Underneath the glossy exterior some of the paint was still tacky, this a full 12 months later.