Frequently asked questions
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Interior wall paints
Exterior wall paints
What does ‘natural’ mean?
In the context of paint, the term ‘natural’ is widely accepted as meaning eco friendly, ‘green’ paints. However, as there is a lack of clear definition for the term ‘natural’ within the paint industry, concerned consumers should ensure they purchase a reputable natural paint brand.
At Earthborn we are proud of our reputation as the leading UK brand name for natural paints. All our paints are manufactured in accordance with our strict ecological principles (see What makes us tick). Our German manufacturing partner has an enviable and longstanding reputation for developing and manufacturing environmentally friendly paints.
Why should I use natural paints?
The paint market is controlled largely by multinational chemical companies which, traditionally, have been less concerned about the environment than other issues. The natural paint movement began in Germany towards the end of the 20th Century in response to concerns about the impact of modern chemical paints on the environment and health.
The concerns of the few are now becoming the concerns of many:
- the impact of petrochemical solvents on the environment
- carcinogenic properties of many petrochemical based paints
- increasing incidence of allergies and asthma
- sick building syndrome arising from high levels of chemical compounds within buildings.
Many people are unaware that most modern chemical paints continue to give off potentially harmful gases years after application. For the increasing numbers of us who like to take care of our health, eating well and exercising, it can be a sobering thought that our living environment – the rooms in which we live, work and sleep - are coated in modern chemical paints...effectively, like living in a series of plastic bags.
Besides that, Earthborn’s natural paints are beautiful and high performing!
If most paints are potentially hazardous to use, why are they not covered in orange and black hazard symbols?
The labelling legislation makes special provision for paints, in many cases removing the requirement for the well recognised hazard symbols. This should not be interpreted as meaning that paints are less hazardous than other products that do carry such labels.
Additionally, there is no legal requirement for paint labels to include a full list of ingredients. Here at Earthborn, however, we believe consumers should be able to make informed choices, so all our products carry a full declaration of ingredients.
What are VOCs and if I buy a low VOC paint can I be sure it is not harmful to use?
Volatile organic compounds are carbon based chemical compounds found in most paints. VOCs are harmful to health, the environment and contribute to global warming. It is now a legal requirement for paint labelling to state the VOC content of the product and although EU legislation restricts VOC content of paints it does not prohibit their use. Most solvents contain high levels of VOCs and therefore solvent based paints (most gloss paints and many eggshells) will normally have high a VOC content. However most water born paints also contain VOCs.. Earthborn paints do not contain VOCs. It is important to remember that not all paints declaring low or zero VOC content are the same and that unlike Earthborn paints, other paints can (and normally do) contain other ‘nasties’ such as acrylic softeners, ammonia or formaldehydes.
Do Earthborn paints include petrochemical ingredients?
We take a holistic approach to environmental issues and consider not only what goes into paint but also, perhaps more importantly, what comes out. There are instances in which the alternative to a petrochemical based ingredient can be more harmful to the environment or health than the petrochemical derivative itself.
The key to this discussion is carbon emissions. Some petrochemical ingredients used in paints cause carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming, but not all. Some alternative ingredients also cause carbon emissions.
The best way to check a paint’s carbon emissions is to look for the VOC content declaration on its label (now required by law)...the higher the VOC content the higher the carbon emissions.
Certain products within our range do contain petrochemical derivatives, but the petrochemical free alternatives to these are more damaging to health and the environment.
Additionally, where we do use petrochemical based ingredients, we use only very low levels and they are ‘locked into’ the paint. This way, the paints create either zero or very low carbon emissions. Indeed, our principle ranges - Earthborn Claypaint, Emulsion, Eggshell and Wood Stain - are completely VOC free.
Are Earthborn paints traditional paints?
‘Traditional’ is a term frequently used to convey an image or feel. In many cases, it is used as a smokescreen to obscure the fact that the paint is a conventional chemical paint and, in fact, refers to little other than the colour shades and names. The term should not be confused with natural, eco friendly or environmentally friendly.
Most Earthborn paints are not traditional in any way; we use advanced formulations and modern technology to produce paints that fit with our ecological principles without compromising performance.
There is an increasing number of new paint brands on the market, many with traditional sounding names. It would be easy to presume many of these are ‘natural’ paints but they probably are not. Most independent paint companies use recipes based on formulations and technology emanating from the large multinational chemical companies.
Presumably I have to compromise on quality or price to benefit from Earthborn paints?
No. Earthborn paints are competitively priced compared to other leading, quality brands of decorative paint. Our quality is second to none, equalling or exceeding the performance of comparable conventional paints in nearly all respects. Earthborn paints are formulated to meet high performance criteria, not to maximise profit margins.
Are Earthborn products suitable for vegetarians and vegans?
None of our products are tested on animals and all are suitable for vegetarians. However, vegans should note that our casein paints contain milk products. All our products carry a full declaration of ingredients.
I suffer from allergies/asthma. Will Earthborn paints help?
Many allergy and asthma sufferers experience benefits when using Earthborn products. There are a number of reasons for this:
- careful ingredient selection that relies on natural ingredients rather than heavily processed chemicals
- the breathability of our paints, in particular the moisture absorbing qualities of Claypaint, helps even out the humidity in a room, making for a healthier, more comfortable living environment
- the clay in Earthborn Claypaint emits negative ions; higher ambient levels of negative ions are widely accepted as being beneficial to health and wellbeing, especially for allergy and asthma sufferers
- Claypaint’s high clay content helps to destroy airborne odours and contaminants
- less static electricity build up, so reducing dust and allergens.
A full declaration of ingredients on our products allows people to make an informed choice.
It is never possible to guarantee that an individual will not have a reaction to a particular product or ingredient. For this reason, we recommend potential users test the product first; samples of most of our products are available. Please call our sales staff who will be pleased to help.
What is Volvox and why do its products appear on your website?
Volvox is the brand name of our German partners. We offer their products in addition to our own so that our customers have access to the widest range of natural paints and allied products. Volvox products are formulated and manufactured in adherence to the same environmentally friendly principles as Earthborn products.
Where can I obtain your products?
Our products can be obtained in one of three ways:
- from a stockist - see the stockist pages for an up to date list
- mail order from one of our mail order partners - noted on the stockist pages
- by order from most major painting and decorating merchants (consult your Yellow Pages), especially branches of C Brewer & Sons Ltd and Crown Decorator Centres.
Interior wall paint
How do I decide which interior wall paint to use?
Earthborn supplies a variety of paints suitable for interior walls and ceilings. To help you make your choice consult the comparison table on the interior wall paints page.
If Claypaint is so good, why does Earthborn also sell emulsion?
Our Claypaint and Emulsion have differing textures and appearance. In most cases, selection is a question of personal preference rather than performance.
How do I apply Earthborn Claypaint?
Claypaint can be applied by brush, roller or spay in the same way as emulsion paint. The method of application will affect the finished texture; a roller will give most texture (the longer the roller hair the greater the texture) and a spray the least. Most people find a four-inch roller provides the best finish.
Is Claypaint suitable for use over lime plaster, lime wash or lime rendered walls (without compromising the natural breathability of these traditional building materials)?
Earthborn Claypaint is ideal for these situations because, unlike most other paints, it does not reduce the breathability of the surface. Paints such as modern vinyl emulsions would partially seal the surface, causing potential problems for the building fabric and the likelihood of the paint ‘blowing off’. Before painting, make sure the surface is stable (not flaky or powdery).
Is Claypaint suitable for kitchens and bathrooms?
Earthborn Claypaint is breathable and hygroscopic (moisture absorbing), which makes it ideal for kitchens and bathrooms as it reduces the occurrence of condensation. Less condensation means less likelihood of mould and mildew. A tiled splashback is recommended behind sinks and cookers.
How durable is Earthborn Claypaint?
Earthborn Claypaint has been tested to DIN53778 (a ‘scrubability’ standard) and is therefore amongst the most durable of paints.
However, this should not be confused with ‘washability’. Due to its breathable nature, Claypaint will absorb liquid stains, e.g. red wine and fruit juice. Surface marks sometimes can be removed with an India rubber or fine emery paper. Earthborn Emulsion is less breathable than Claypaint, therefore it offers a more stain resistant alternative.
Are Earthborn interior paints suitable for painting new plaster?
Our wall and ceiling paints are ideal for new plaster because they are so breathable, allowing the moisture in the new plaster to dry out through the paint. In fact, Earthborn Claypaint is so breathable it is almost as if it is not there! The vapour permeability of Claypaint is six times higher than a typical vinyl paint.
Modern vinyl paints effectively seal the surface, which is why the usual recommendation is to allow several months before painting. With Earthborn Claypaint you do not need to wait anywhere near this length of time….just a few weeks for the initial drying to take place.
Can I overpaint vinyl paint with Earthborn Claypaint or Emulsion?
I have prepared the wall to be painted but the surface is powdery. Should I treat it with PVA?
No. PVA will partially seal the surface, which can be detrimental to the building structure and result in a less comfortable living environment. Therefore, other than in special cases, PVA should be avoided. First try brushing the surface thoroughly with a stiff brush. If the surface remains powdery, stabilise it with a solution of Earthborn Wall Glaze and water.
We have treated a damp problem in our Victorian house and have been told not to use a vinyl paint. Can you recommend a suitable paint?
This is because vinyl paint will effectively seal the surface and the damp will only move elsewhere. You need to let the damp out by using a breathable paint. All Earthborn wall and ceiling paints are highly breathable, especially Earthborn Claypaint.
I have read of Earthborn Casein Paint. Is it a convenient alternative to Claypaint and Emulsion?
Casein paint is a very natural paint based on milk proteins. It was widely used as an alternative to commercial chemical paints before the development of our advanced eco paints. While its formulation is very different, it shares many properties with Earthborn Claypaint; however, Claypaint offers higher levels of performance.
Supplied as a powder, Casein Paint has to be mixed with water before use and it only achieves full covering power when dry (encouraging inexperienced users to apply it too thickly, resulting in a poor surface finish). Casein Paint is not as convenient to use as Earthborn Claypaint and Emulsion, but some people appreciate its smooth, visually soft appearance, which is why it remains in our product range.
Is Wood Stain suitable for use on floorboards?
Wood Stain is not designed for use on floorboards or kitchen surfaces.
Can Wood Stain be used externally?
There are two types of Wood Stain, one for interior use and one for exterior use. Wood Stain is ideal for exteriors, providing a breathable, water repellent, UV resistant, surface.
Eggshell can be used on extranal wood surfaces
There are other water based varnishes and eggshell on the market. Aren’t they all the same?
No. Nearly all these products contain oils and/or acrylics. Earthborn Wood Stain and eggshell are unique formulations containing no oils or acrylics at all.
Eggshell and Wood Stain have been certified as totally free of VOCs and other harmful emissions during application or thereafter (German TUV testing authority). This means it is safer for your health and the environment. It also enables us to offer a crystal clear interior varnish that will not yellow with time.
We believe there is no greener, healthier wood finish on the market.
Why is it important to use an oil free and acrylic free wood finish?
Being oil and acrylic free means Eggshell and Wood Stain are also free of VOCs and acrylic softeners, which are harmful to health and the environment. In addition to its health and environmental benefits, Earthborn Wood Stain does not yellow with time.
My window frames have been painted with an oil based finsh. Can I overpaint with Wood Stain or Eggshell?
Yes, provided that the oil based finish is sound and has fully cured (this may take several months from application). Simply give the surface a light sanding before applying Eggshell and Wood Stain.
However, some of the benefits of Eggshell and Wood Stain (notably its breathability) will be diminished. Any performance figures quoted by Earthborn relate toWood Stain or Eggshell on bare wood.
I want a VOC free alternative to a traditional oil based eggshell. Is there one in the Earthborn range?
For customers wanting a healthier, more environmentally friendly alternative, we offer Eggshell which is certified to be free of VOCs and all other harmful emissions. It is the perfect choice for exterior or interior woodwork.
Exterior wall paint
How durable is Earthborn Ecopro Silicate Masonry Paint?
Earthborn Ecopro Silicate Masonry Paint is probably the most durable paint available for exterior masonry. It makes a chemical bond with the mineral surface. We know of examples of buildings painted in silicate paint more than 80 years ago, which are still in excellent condition. As with all paints, proper preparation is essential.
Why should I use Earthborn Ecopro Silicate Masonry Paint rather than a modern masonry paint?
There are numerous reasons. Although water repellent, it is highly breathable so any damp will not be sealed into the building. It has unparalleled durability and provides an attractive finish. For a full comparison refer to the table on the exterior wall paints page.
What are the colours in the Ecopro Silicate Paint range?
Earthborn Ecopro Silicate Masonry Paint is available in white as standard, but it can be tinted using Earthborn Pigments to provide a wide range of colours. Alternatively, for larger quantities we can tint to most colours at our factory.
My house is painted with a modern masonry paint. Can I overpaint it in Earthborn Ecopro Silicate Masonry Paint?
Unfortunately not. It will be necessary to remove the modern masonry paint before preparing the surface with Earthborn Ecopro Silicate Primer.
My cottage is limewashed. Can I overpaint it in Earthborn Ecopro Silicate Paint?
Earthborn Ecopro Silicate Paint can be used on any stable mineral surface, including limewash.
I have holes to fill in my wall before painting. What product should I use?
Our Casein Filler has excellent adhesive qualities and is the ideal product to use, internally or externally, before applying Earthborn paints.