If you’ve ever got a headache when you’ve been painting in an enclosed space you will no doubt know of the harmful effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are the nasties that are put in paint to make it easier to use. Paints which are high in solvents dry more quickly and paint more evenly. They can have special powers of non-dripping too. However, VOCs are bad for you and bad for the environment.
There are alternatives but they aren’t always easy to find, so here is the BuyVertue quick guide to painting the ethical (and safe) way.
For external paints, lime render can offer a traditional looking finish with great eco-friendly paint properties. Lime render offers a breathable finish for interior and exterior of your property. A great place to start is Auro 344 lime paint and their 350 lime tinters to get the perfect colour match. The BuyVertue team especially love the Terracotta. Alternatively try the Stuart Furby developed Lime Earth Paints if you’re working on the outside of your property. These heritage renders that can be used to match your village’s local colour like Suffolk pink. If you are new to working with lime render then the Ecoright kits are great as they offer all you need in a single tub.
For gloss finish without the VOCs then consider the Auro 250, Auro 260 matt (the reds and ochres are beautiful) or the Earthborn eggshellsilk range ranges. These are micro-porous for breathability, water-based and of course, solvent free. These are hardworking paints but you will need an undercoat on bare material or to key the paint (a good scrub with sandpaper should do it) before applying to an existing painted surface.
One other paint worth mentioning is the Holkham Linseed Paints. Distributed in the UK via Holkham Hall, the paint was developed by Hans and Sonja Allback in Sweden. As house renovators they were not satisfied with the results of using modern petro-chemical-based paints. Often, within a short space of time, the paint started flaking and cracking. The Allbacks began researching why paints from 18th and 19th century lasted longer than the modern paints they forced to use. The answer was two-fold and lay in the quality of wood that had been used and the type of paint applied – linseed oil paint.
Hans began to create a new generation of linseed oil paints based on the original recipes, which were easy to use and durable, as well as being environmentally friendly. These paints do not contain any solvents, toxins or preservatives. The paints that Hans developed are sold in the UK under the Holkham Paints name. For distribution in other countries check the Allback site.
Even better news is that are currently 10% off at the Greenshop – Holkham Paints at the Greenshop
Three final pieces of advice.
- The drying times with eco-paints are extended because of the lack of solvents. This has been particularly tough this spring with so much rain, so you need to pick you painiting days carefully.
- Secondly these paints are tough to find so you may end up buying online. If you do make sure you have a printed colour chart – the colours are your compuetr screen are very unlikely to representative of what the colours actually look like on the wall.
- And finally, make sure you check any local planning or Engliush Heritage guidleslines before using lime render on the exterior of your house. While all the renders here are heritage paints local rules may apply. The English Heritage listed building consent subsite is a good place to start.