Applying and using natural eco paints

Once you have chosen your paint there are some tips that you need to know about their use.

Natural paints are largely designed to work like conventional paints, but there are some differences that can make a big impact on how happy you will be with the final product. There are some issues that are specific to certain paints and some generic pieces of advice.

General tips:

Try a match pot first of all. Natural paints are very matt and tend to take on colour rather than reflect it. This means that they will look different in situ than they do on colour charts / computer screens, PDFs, etc.

Use a medium roller or a good quality brush as natural paints tend to be thicker. Many decorators use thick rollers in order to do two coats in one. This is not advisable. There are cases where paints have taken wall paper off of the walls because the weight and enthusiasm of the painters are too great. A good quality brush also ensures that the thicker paint does not show brush marks as much. A natural and synthetic combined bristle is regarded as the best solution here.

Natural paints are more likely to settle, so it is especially important that the tins are mixed well before use. General advice is to stir until you think that it is mixed properly and then do it again!

Most natural paints will cover all plasters, but for lime plasters make sure that it has cured sufficiently first. However clay and lime paints can be applied to lime plasters before they are fully dry.

Cleaning natural paints varies, so be aware that you choose the right type of paint for the wall. So in heavy traffic areas you may wish to get a paint with a higher natural oil content as these are scrubbable compared to most that are wipeable.

Specific tips:

Some paints (clay and lime paints) are hygroscopic (attract water vapour into them) and this means that they are very breathable (a good thing on older buildings) but also that they will pull through stains on the wall and also are more difficult to clean. So ensure that the walls are clear of grease and stains before paint is applied. Alternatively you can seal up the stains with an isolating primer.

With clay and lime paints that are not wipeable you can clean these by using a good quality rubber (eraser).

If you want to use the clay paints (natural, no VOCs, no smells etc.) but want to protect them, you can put a wall glaze over the top. This will create a wipeable surface. However, it will effect the finish (making it more satin) and also colour (slightly darker). If you do choose wall glaze then cover a discrete area (a wall, up to a dada rail etc.) and then you will not notice these slight changes.

When applying clay paint and certain emulsions you will find that they have a slight translucent quality when wet. Do not overpaint. Clay paint especially can look very patchy after application. The best advice here is to walk away and have another look the next day. You should be very pleasantly surprised.

For more advice and products please call the Eco Home Centre on 02920373094.


Rounded Developments Enterprises Ltd have endeavoured to ensure that the information contained in this report is accurate. However, Rounded Developments Enterprises Ltd. accepts no liability for the use of this information.

Statement of Vested Interest

Rounded Developments Enterprises Ltd are a well-recognised supplier of a range of sustainable building products and as such have a commercial interest in some of the recommendations contained within the report. In some cases, cost estimates have been given on the basis of current quotations for similar equipment supplied by Rounded Developments Enterprises Ltd, and may not be the only equipment available. However, it is our opinion that the study offers an appropriate level of detail in view of the resources available and information provided. The authors have no expectation of any order being placed with them and would welcome questioning of the choice and costs of any equipment.