Are ‘Eco’ paints all the same?

The simple answer is No!

Unfortunately ‘Green’ paint can be full of ‘green wash’. Some paints are seen as eco, just because they are water based. Others are labelled as green because they have reduced the energy used in the production of the paint. Others have reduced their VOC levels and see this as being acceptable to market a product as eco-friendly.

The factors that rock your boat might be satisfied by this, however many people are effectively being duped into buying an ‘eco’ paint when really the credentials that underpin the product are quite questionable.

The real factors that should underpin choice of an eco-paint are (we think):

  • Production methods (use of renewable energy in production, local ingredients, etc.)
  • Use of low impact natural materials
  • Long lasting and high quality finish
  • Healthy to apply and live with
  • Local production / efficient distribution network
  • No use / minimal use of finite petro-chemical based ingredients

I think that the most important factor is to get a paint that works right for you. So if you have a breathable wall structure you will need a breathable paint. If you are painting a hallway you may well want a scrubbable paint, etc.

There are proper eco paints that can do this, but it is dependent on their ingredients. For example, Green Paints are made with soya oils and these dry to be really hard and hence scrubbable. Earthborn Clay Paints are made of clay and this is really breathable and hence brilliant for lime rendered walls. Auro paints are made from linseed and citrus oils, certified VOC free, and are great if you want something that is high quality and behaves in a manner that is really similar to conventional emulsions.

To try and make all of this a bit easier the Eco Home Centre developed an Eco Paint Chooser. This allows you to get the right paint for your home and for you also to choose from other important factors like VOC free, Made in the UK, etc.