I recently took the opportunity to test out natural paints in my son’s bedroom. It was time for a makeover and he has terrible eczema, so the decision was easy.
We needed a large wardrobe/storage unit built, as this was the smallest room in the house and free-standing pieces did not make the best use of the limited space available. Naturally this was built out of the dreaded MDF board! We did our research and found that the EU now stipulate low-formaldehyde board (E1) that is much less harmful and we instructed our carpenter to buy that. We then noticed that ECOS http://www.ecospaints.com/products.htm#primer
carry a fabulous MDF priming product (MDF Passivator) that claims to eliminate the majority (99%) of the off-gassing from MDF. We applied the primer as our first coat without too much fuss and sleep a little easier because of it.
The walls were lined with lining paper and the chosen shade of AURO http://www.auro.co.uk/ emulsion applied with ease. The decorator loved using the paint and found the coverage (8-9m2/L) a little less than everyday paint, but did not complain. He was happy to hear that the paints can be thinned with water to increase the coverage.
The sticking point came with the woodwork. Natural paints can be applied to old acrylic paints as long as the surfaces are well rubbed down beforehand. We applied AURO undercoat first and then a top coat of the AURO matt finish silk paint. The coverage was good and the paints easy to use, but the decorator was disturbed by the length of the drying time – up to 8 hours in some cases. Decorators have become used to chemically enhanced, quick drying paints that enable them to fly through a job, painting second coats only an hour or two after the first. If we are to encourage them to move over to natural paints, we need them to alter their work habits slightly, in order to incorporate longer drying times.
The end result was spectacular! The storage unit com wardrobe was painted inside and out and once dry the natural paint is as hard-wearing as any standard paint on the market and the depth of colour on the walls is great. At the end of the job, all the empty paint cans could be washed out and put into the recycling bin! The best thing of all however, was the lack of the toxic chemical smell that has always accompanied redecorating. The house had the aroma of scented oils and why not, after all that is what the paints are made from.