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Why painters and decorators use natural linseed paint

Why painters and decorators use natural linseed paint

Commercial decorator and director of Nouveau Decor Ian Stokes specialises in heritage properties and period homes. Here Ian explains why linseed paint has since become his unique selling point and transformed his decorating business.

A realistic heritage-property finish

Ian said: “I have always been interested in using natural paints on period properties because natural paint was used back when the period homes were built; not modern synthetic pigments and plastic-added paints. The natural ingredients and colour pigments used to produce linseed paint create a more realistic finish in keeping with the heritage of the homes we decorate.

"The natural colours are also very strong and intense because the pigments are ground extremely finely allowing the pigment to be totally oil saturated,” says Ian.

Upon discovering Oricalcum linseed paint three years ago Ian decided to take a visit to the factory in Sweden. “Meeting the small dedicated production team at Ottosson gave me an insight into the care and commitment that goes into the production. It helped me appreciate their sourcing of the best quality natural ingredients and the sustainable practices employed.

linseed paint factory

Preserving a period property 

“I find modern conventional paints form a soft skin over the top of the surface you are painting. Linseed paint soaks in.” Oricalcum linseed paints are made from a high-quality oil in which the molecules are smaller than water so they penetrate deeper into wood than water.

Linseed paint's wicking capabilities draw moisture out from under the surface. “Being a breathable finish, linseed paint allows for moisture to exit the timber. The penetration of the paint alongside the removal of moisture prolongs the timber lifespan from the decaying process.”

linseed paint

Long-lasting paint

“My most recent project is an old stable barn conversation. Weather was hitting the back of the house and the owner was struggling to find paint that would last even a year without flaking and peeling.” Linseed paint works at its best when applied to bare timber. Therefore Ian stripped the old paint off using a Speedheater and applied linseed paint, confident it would easily cope with bad weather.

“It’s been two years and the paint is still as it was when we first painted it. We’re now going back to the property to paint the adjoining farmhouse in linseed paint because the owners are so pleased with the outcome. And future maintenance on the barn would only require a fresh coat or the oiling of existing coats.

"The public have become used to cheap, synthetic paints. I am trying to educate my customers on the benefits of natural linseed paint. ”

Delay the decay of period properties

Ian recommends using linseed paint to combat damp or decay as it allows moisture to be drawn out of the surface to evaporate. “Using modern synthetic paints creates a high-gloss sheen that may look attractive but it is actually filled with plastic. It’s like wrapping your house in a polythene bag. You lock the moisture in, which will result in problems with rot, damp and rust.” 

Wooden beams waxed with linseed oil wax

Healthier working environment

“As a decorator working with paint all day long, I have struggled with my chest. Using natural linseed paint has stopped that. The oil exudes a mild but inoffensive odour that is not disagreeable to work with. Alongside this, its ethical credentials are reason enough why I prefer to specialise in working with linseed paint.”

“My next project is three weeks long, working on Victorian properties in Harrogate. I will definitely be using linseed paint throughout.”

Find out more about linseed paint with our top ten reasons to use linseed paint or trial it today with a linseed sample pot.