Choosing natural eco paint

Choosing paints can be an issue as there are a wide range of considerations that you need to be aware of. Some of which are more important that others.

Natural paints are unlike most conventional paints as they are dependent on their ingredients to define their properties. Conventional paints are designed to do a job on conventional walls, nothing more and nothing less. Many natural paints come from Germany and the people developing them started up different businesses because they had different foci. Some wanted healthy paints, others organic, whilst ease of use was wanted by other people. These aims required different natural materials to obtain the desired outcome.

There are, of course, knock-on effects from choosing the raw materials to provide the various properties. Understanding this is important if the paint is going to be applied in appropriate places and for certain lifestyles and social situations. Thankfully though all the paint manufacturers (being mostly European) have realised that with the premiums associated with natural paints they must produce high quality paints. In the UK we are aren’t there yet and the paints are marketed on eco-friendliness but elsewhere it is all about quality, so in buying an eco paint, you will actually get a high quality paint and so virtually everyone who buys one of these paints is a happy customer. The only complaints come from where people have bought the wrong paint for their particular situation.

So here goes:

For healthy non-odour paints (free from VOCs) for asthma / allergy sufferers

Some people are really sensitive to odours. If you suffer from allergies or asthma then choosing paints from earthBorn is a great option. You will get a slight earthy smell, but that is all. Only water is given off when drying.

The earthBorn wall paint range includes clay paint and emulsion.

For organic paints

Many ingredients do not carry an organic standard, however there are oils that can, so organic paint is never 100%, however Auro and Ecos do have organic labelled products.

For breathable walls / structures

Maintaining breathability is key in many older buildings and so choosing breathable paint is vital to allow the walls to do their job. Breathability is not a fixed properties, there are different degrees of breathability.

The most breathable paints are:

Claypaint, chalk paint and limewash / lime paint. EarthBorn manufacture claypaint and Auro do a chalk paint and a paint-like version of limewash.

When using clay or lime plasters you should specify a clay, chalk or lime paint.

For other walls (especially those with conventional plaster) you can use most other natural paints as they all tend to be breathable. However the rule of thumb is the higher the level of oils the less breathable the paint.

For scrubbable surfaces

Where you have high traffic or dirty zones (entrance halls, utility rooms etc.) where you may wish to clean the walls on a regular basis you may wish to purchase a hard-wearing paint. This generally means more natural oils in the mix. Auro do a scrubbable paint Auro 324 and Aglaia have a hard wearing white. These paints have to have fewer pigments and so tend to be only available in lighter pastel colours.

You can cover paint with a clear wall glaze to give a wipeable finish as well. This does change the surface to more of a satin finish and alters the colour slightly and so you will have to use this over a whole wall or up to a dado level etc.

For great coverage

Many natural paints are thick and cover brilliantly. Auro 321 and the earthBorn paints are certainly excellent at covering well. You will be looking at one, maybe two coats.

For matt finishes

Clay paint is probably the matt’est of paints, but the earthborn emulsion and Auro 321 are also good. The Auro 324 has a satin finish due to the higher oil content.

For cost

Cost can be a consideration. So for certain areas like ceilings (where normally a plain white is required) most companies provide a lower priced white option. Auro have their 320 Economy White and earthBorn’s paints are cheaper for the white options

For brightness of the white

The brightest white paints are available from Auro.

For cleaning the air

Auro have created a photo-catalytic paint that will stop odours in the home. This paint needs to be in full sun to work effectively and also be maintained in its white colour. A great choice though for certain situations like sunny kitchens, bathrooms and gyms.

For stopping mould

Paint can create a surface that is not mould friendly. By choosing a more alkaline paint it can help to prevent mould from forming. Lime paints are good for this, but Auro also make an Anti-Mould paint. Their system includes boron based sprays that kill mould and then inhibit its growth.

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.