Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Painting Naturally

Helloooo! After having disappeared into a plughole I then metamorphosed into a mole to dig the allotment. It looks far better now, although I am still behind and need every minute of the day to run the house/work/decorate/garden. Cleaning and such has to wait, I hope my family won't find this too disgusting.

 In our renovation, we have aimed at using the environmentally and human friendly paints and surface treatments where possible. In my latest foray on the net I have found even more manufacturers. My focus has been partially on the care I want to give us, living in the indoor climate we create and partly on the manufacturing in this country. So, my list is again quite UK biased, with a good reason behind it.

In the latter years the EU has tightened the VOC (volatile Organic Compounds) rules for the paints. This has lead to an improvement on this account of many mainstream brands. It's not by any means the only thing , which counts. Many of the big makes market their paints as "green" although I would look closer, before I believe.

Also a paint manufacturer, who might use linseed oil in the paint, would actually rack up some VOC count. So everything is not as plain as it seems. There are a lot of other factors, which I am not going to go into, but will tell you what my experiences are. There is an excellent article about the ins and outs with a list of manufacturers and suppliers here.

We used "Nature Paints" for our walls last summer. They come in powder form and are clay based, tinted with the finest colour tints available. They are relatively easy to use and it is delightful that the component, which is easily available ie. water has been left for the user to add. The production of the paints is located 20 miles from the clay pit, where the main ingredient comes from.

Like the blurp says: You can sleep immediately after painting in the room, you could sleep while painting, if you wish. This is a paint, which you could smear on the walls without a twinge for your soul while your baby was napping in the same room.

This paint does not need a primer and can be used on wood as well. We painted a newly plastered living room with this  and had to use 2-3 coats. I think we could have done with only two, had I not allowed the Husband to paint! Anyway, the paint wasn't just sucked into the fresh plaster, which I have heard can be a problem. (It could also be the skill of our plasterer, he left the surface just right, polished enough for not being thirsty, but not so polished that paint wouldn't hang there). EDIT: I have now used it in a wall I plastered, very amateurishly, and it still doesn't so the disappearance act.

Cons: Well, it takes some effort to mix it. If you buy one of those mixing bits for your drill, you should be laughing. I made do with a hand mixer from my kitchen. Totally doable, just a bit slower. You have to use the paint you have mixed in a week. It does not have any preservatives, so will go off. On the other hand the extra powder is easy to store. Again no water, no trouble. Also the paint has a clay smell. It takes some time to disappear. It is not unpleasant, just earthy.

When it has been painted and has cured for two weeks, it is hard to tell any difference to a bog standard emulsion. (Actually could not tell after the painting either). I would hazard a guess that an emulsion could withstand more rubbing with an abrasive sponge, but I have removed stains from our walls without a problem. (And equally had paint come off, when a wall was painted with a "normal" kitchen emulsion).  I would definitely recommend this brand.

For our bathroom I chose another excellent British paint called Ecos. They have a largish selection of colours and can even colour match for you, if you wish. Their selection includes both normal emulsions, bathroom and kitchen eggshell, wood paint and outside wood treatment products. (And many more). Their website is well worth visiting.

I found that their printed colour chart was more accurate than Nature Paint's. Both places send tester pots/envelopes and I always use this service as it is difficult really to see how the colour will work before you have tried it in situ. Nature paint also allows you three paint chips with every order. They are bits of card with the actual paint on them, so as accurate colour rendition as you would get.

The paint was like any other paint to work with, maybe a bit easier, as it is not as thick as some of the modern paints. The 5-litre pot comes with a fastening ring, so no need for screwdrivers to open the lid. Oh, there was one difference; it does not smell. At. All. BLISS! Another after-thought here: The smell is no indicator for the harmfulness of the paint; a paint can be odourless, but still fill the air with harmful chemicals. Likewise an eco-paint can be smelly, but won't harm you. All three of us are quite smell sensitive, so Ecos Paint being odourless was a great bonus.

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