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How to choose an eco-friendly paint

Image of eco-friendly paint in a bedroom by @readandhall

How to choose an eco-friendly paint

If you’re looking for an environmentally sound way to spruce up your home, eco-friendly paint is a good solution. Let’s take a quick look at what eco paints are and why they’re good for the planet.

What is an eco-friendly paint?

An eco paint is made from natural raw materials, its production process is non-polluting and not carbon intensive, and the leftovers can be put on the compost heap. Don’t be fooled by paints describing themselves as water-based: they may not be as eco-friendly as they sound. To check, look at what else goes into the paint besides water (many manufacturers list ingredients on the tin). Red flags include PVA, PVC, acrylic, alkyds, glycol ethers (GEs), petroleum ether, petroleum naphtha, benzin, any butanones, phthalates, PMMA and azo pigments.

What’s the benefit of using eco paints?

The beauty of eco paints is that they allow walls to breathe. In other words, they don’t trap moisture beneath the surface, so they stop mould building up. Plus, by allowing walls to breathe, eco paints can help to improve indoor air quality.

Can I clean walls painted in eco paint?

Generally, you can’t scrub natural paint with chemicals or abrasive products. Instead, you’ll need to wash walls and woodwork with a hot cloth to remove marks. Pencil and pen are a tougher test, but warm water and some mild detergent should do the trick.

What types of eco paint are there?
  • Lime paint: Traditionally used on the walls of farm buildings to help prevent damp, lime paint makes our homes healthier places to live by allowing walls to breathe.
  • Clay paint: The creamy consistency of clay paint creates a breathable, flat matt finish for walls and ceilings. It’s particularly suited to period or older properties that may suffer from damp problems.
  • Oil eggshell: Similar to standard eggshell, oil eggshell has a mid-sheen finish that dries to a hard-wearing, satin-matt finish suitable for woodwork, metalwork and furniture. A number of oil eggshells are made exclusively from linseed oil, which can sometimes take longer to dry when applied too thickly. Consider a faster-drying hybrid linseed oil/water alternative.
  • Natural emulsion: Suitable for all walls including the kitchen and bathroom.
Image of living room in eco-friendly paint by @kylamagrathinteriors
Image: @kylamagrathinteriors
Paint brands that boast eco credentials:

Featured image: Despite its Swedish vibe, this bedroom was actually created by @readandhall in Australia. Decorated by sisters Emma Read and Sarah Hall, this bedroom has had a lick of lime paint that perfectly complements rustic wooden furniture to create a comforting vibe; Second image: Pauline Simpkin of @paulinesimpkin6 mixed together two lime paints to achieve the fabulous finish seen on her dining room wall; Third image: Colour block in the style of Hannah Atkins of @naptimestyle and use a dash of colour with a thick stripe against a crisp white backdrop. This is a simple but stylish way to liven up a plain wall.

Want more? Read our other paint-focused blogs on specialist paint for kitchens and bathrooms and our complete guide to paint finishes.