16 Apr 2014

Paints: Pioneer with paint

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It wasn’t too long ago that ‘eco’ was still a concept associated with ‘hippy’ hemp shoe wearers with sustainable paint products perceived as less colourful or ‘wishy-washy’. Cathryn Helsby from paint expert Earthborn discusses why eco-paints are so important for the sustainable-conscious self-builder.

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Eco paints have come a long way since Earthborn was established over 10 years ago. We were one of only a few brands that recognised early on, the importance of using healthier paints. Paint can make a huge difference to the look and feel of a property, but can also have a negative impact on the health of the occupants and the environment. We continue to invest time in educating customers and the wider public about the perils of paints containing VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other harmful emissions.

Recognised as greenhouse gases, VOCs and other harmful emissions are released into the atmosphere during paint application. Paint can continue to emit toxins for up to two years after painting, and so present long-term health issues within the home; VOCs are known to aggravate allergies and cause chest complaints. There are very few other things with such bad ingredients that would be used so freely in the interior of a home.

Health benefits

Many people have long been aware of the effects of chemicals to their bodies, this is largely seen in the rise of the slow food and organic veg movements, where people make a direct connection between what they put into their bodies and how this affects their wellbeing. It is surprising that the same consideration is not attached to the chemicals which surround us in the home, particularly those we breathe.

With Government legislation imposing maximum levels for VOCs, all paint brands are considering what goes into their formulations. There is, however, still a gap between lower VOC content and having none.

Breathability is another area we should be considering when making choices about paint. If you seal walls and ceilings, you risk damaging the building as damp with nowhere to go will eventually blow the paint and plaster off. In extreme cases it can cause damage to the structure of a building.

Green colour

When spoken about in the press, often the focus for sustainable brands can be on their eco credentials alone, giving the impression that something has been sacrificed to achieve this virtuous reputation. In actual fact, sustainable paint for most brands is not about taking something away, but adding something in. Some water-based options, which when mixed with powder pigments can give varied results, but our clay based paints in particular can achieve really solid, deep colours, and offer a much stronger, fuller palette.

As home-owners become more adventurous with colour and the popularity of ‘upcycling’ and renovating homes increases, customers are moving away from ‘safe’ shades and experimenting with bolder colours often choosing to update a vintage chair or picture frame to add an accent colour to interior schemes. Personal painting projects have been increasing in popularity as more people opt to stay and update their homes rather than move.

The next battle on the cards for sustainable paint is counteracting this perception that eco colour palettes are limited and do not reach the colour levels of conventional standard paints. This is certainly not the case, and with a new colour card of 60 shades launched last year, which include bright pinks, zesty yellows and deep marine blues, Earthborn has certainly put that perception to rest.

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