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Painting naturally

Monday, August 25, 2014

I first discovered natural paints in the early 90s. I was into eating healthy food and trusting the natural healing and wisdom of my body rather than eating processed food and using pharmaceutical medicines to manipulate my symptoms when ill. So it was a natural progression for me to discover natural paints when looking to do a renovation on a run down rental that I had just moved into.

The first natural paint I used was Bio wall paint which is a plant based natural paint. It painted on easily and had a bit more character than regular acrylic paint. Great ! I thought I like it ! I could even play around and mix my own colours. This appealed to my do-it-yourself creativity.

Over the next 15 years and several more opportunities to paint run down rentals, I discovered different types of natural paints. I tried out milk paint and clay paint. I enjoyed the milk paints but found they only lasted a couple of years before looking a bit faded & discoloured. This may have been also due the conditions in that house, or rather converted shed, I was living in! However clay paint became my favourite. I couldn't be quite so creative with mixing my own colours because they came in pre-mixed colours, but the colours they came in were fantastic, and where I could be creative was in the effects I could get out of them. You can polish or burnish clay paint when almost dry and get fabulous creative effects. You can also paint it on timber and furniture, sand it back to get that distressed look, and clear coat or wax over the top for added protection.

My son has just created a great effect with the Volvox Clay paint on the walls of a new cafe wine bar he has in Randwick called Bat Country. They also used the Livos natural wood oils and recycled materials in the fit-out. A great example of the extra character and ambience that natural paints and wood finishes can give.

Winter is a great time to get creative with home projects...  and warm up by getting active!

Today's product to inspire you is Murobond Woodwash. A coloured wash with many different uses. Great on plywood cabinetry and paneling, timber beams, feature trim, furniture, and even timber or concrete floors and pavers. A look reminiscent of Scandinavian limed timber - a gorgeous soft translucent coloured wash allows the grain to show through. Choose from whitewash, brownwash or blackwash...or discover the palette of funky Murobond colours.

Murobond paints and finishes are sought by top architects, designers, painters and homeowners looking for products that are aesthetically pleasing, technically advanced, and environmentally sensitive. Spread the word about these great features

  • water repellant finish
  • highly mould and mildew resistant
  • easy to use
  • low odour
  • low VOC
  • binds the wood fibers together to reduce swelling and shrinkage
  • competitive priced eco finish Test drive Woodwash. 

Get a free Woodwash sample pot when you purchase anything from Painted Earth in July.

Help us inspire others to creative sustainable living - email us before & after photos of your project using products from Painted Earth and receive a $20 voucher off your next product purchase.

timber finishesWe are blessed with timber flooring and decks made from our great Aussie hardwoods. But how to finish and maintain them for great appearance and longevity ? 

The first distinction to make when deciding on a finish is whether it is a film forming finish or a penetrating finish. Film forming finishes create a film on the surface of the timber. Penetrating finishes are absorbed into the surface layer of the timber, hardening within it, and making it water and dirt repellant. 

A good quality film forming finish will be very hard, thus resisting wear from foot traffic and damage from scratching. It will also be flexible to allow for the natural expansion and contraction of timber as it heats and cools, without cracking. Mostly these will be some form of polyurethane - either water based or oil based - and come in varying sheen levels.  We do not recomend the oil based poyurethanes as these are a highly toxic finish and are in fact banned in Europe. However many of the water based polyurethanes available on the Australian market these days are a great low VOC option for interior timber floors. A good quality water based polyurethane will generally last about 10 years on a domestic interior floor before it needs to be recoated. As the film ages it becomes more brittle and eventually break down, allowing water to penetrate into the timber beneath and begin a process of discolouration and peeling. We do not recommend film forming finishes for exterior decks in full sun exposure as the high degree of exposure to sun, UV, rain, heating and cooling, expansion and contraction will make even the best of these finishes brittle within a few years , and the resultant peeling and discolouration will mean the finish needs to to totally sanded off before a new finish can be applied - usually a very large job!

Pentrating finishes are generally some form of natural or synthetic oils. For interior penetratiing finishes we recomend natural wood oils made by companies who specialise in wood oils that are non-toxic. Synthetic oils are generally a mix of natural oils, oil based polyurethanes, and solvents. We recomend avoiding synthetic oils for interior use because of the toxic off gassing of oil based polyurethanes and solvents. Natural wood oils have been used on interior flooring for many centuries and the modern versions have been developed and refined to give great performance and easy maintenance. Unlike film forming finishes they will never break down. However the surface will dry out a little over time, so a top-up coat is recommended from time to time ( aproximately every 5 years ) to maintain good water and dirt repellancy. 

Penetrating finishes are generally the recommended finish for exterior timber and decks in Australia, due to our harsh conditions. As mentioned above most film forming finishes in full exposure will loose their flexibility in a short period of time and start to chip and peel - requiring a total sand off before recoating. Hence in Australia we have generally moved to penetrating finishes that remain flexible and are simply topped up annually to keep the timber in good condition. These can be either natural wood oils, water modified oils, or water based penetrating finishes. Each of these have different qualities, longevity and appearance so the choice often comes down to which appearance you want and what maintenance you are prepared to do. 

Our MONTHLY SPECIAL for May features Lanotec Timber Seal. This is a unique product which impregnates the timber with lanolin wax - a natural wax from sheep. This wax make the timber water repellent and protects it from drying out or rotting, due sun and rain exposure. Hence it preserves the timber. However it doesnt contain any tints, which are the main UV blocking ingredient in exterior timber finishes, so the timber will naturally grey with age. This natural greying is not generally a desired appearance for external timber and decks. However it is starting to become more fashionable and is in fact easier to maintain than the full timber colour. The grey can also be sanded off at any stage and the timber brought back to its original colour.

Top Environmental Tips

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Reduce Re-use Recycle. This slogan has been around for a while but its still the best summary of what we can each do to towards creating a more sustainable future for humanity. It applies to every thing from the power and water we use on a daily basis, to all other resources we use and consume. We all need to learn to live more simply and consciously and respect and value the many resources we take for granted.

Clutter and waste is a modern day syndrome in many houses. Learning how to clear the clutter and create our home as a sanctuary is the focus of a weekend workshop we are hosting at the Green Building Centre in March. See more about this event on facebook

Zero VOC paint

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Clean AirZero VOC paint is a term used to describe paint that does not off-gas. Off-gassing from paint occurs primarily when it is applied - that freshly painted smell ! - but also occurs at a lower level for many years after the paint has dried, and can contibute to poor indoor air quality, health issues, and environmental air pollution (smog).

VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound. Volatile means off-gassing at room temperatue. An Organic Compound is a chemical compound containing carbon.

Typically waterbased synthetic paint is made from acrylic polymers that create a "plastic "film on the wall. These are dissolved in water and other solvents to make it liquid so it can be painted on the wall. Other chemicals are added to improve the quality and durabilty of the paint.  The liquid solvents or some of the additives are typically what evaporates as VOC's.

Zero VOC paint is most commonly used as a marketing term to describe acrylic paint that has been formulated to avoid VOCs. However most natural paints are also zero VOC paint because they do not contain synthetic hydro-carbon compounds.

Zero VOC paint is a great place to start if you are looking for a healthy and environmentally responsible paint for your home or work place. However it is not the whole story. It is wise to look further than this marketing slogan when making this choice.

Consider both zero VOC acrylic and natual paints. Consider other elements of paint toxicity. Consider the company making the paint - is it an environmentaly responsible and ethical company dedicated to producing non-toxic and environmentally responsible products ? Also consider environmentally responsible painting and disposal of left over paint.

Read more about paint VOC's and toxicty in our FAQ's , and more about avoiding environmental pollution when painting in our TIPS AND TRICKS for applying finishes.

Cool paint

Monday, August 19, 2013

Think about painting your roof or walls with Solacoat. A heat reflective paint applied to rooves, walls and other surfaces (even Flinders St Station railway lines!) to reduce the temperature of the surface. This can lower the internal temperature of a building in summer and create more comfortable living.

Application of Solacoat can also result in up to 30% savings in energy costs, reducing power bills and carbon emissions. Now that's cool!

Solacoat on railway linesSolacoat on roofThe new Zero Carbon Australia Buidings Plan describes heat reflective paints as one of the top measures to reduce carbon emissions from our buildings.

Solacoat s a high quality paint that's economical and easy to apply, and has been independently tested and certified by Ecospecifier and ASTM (a global standards verifier) to reduce the internal temperature of buildings that suffer from heat transfer through rooves or walls.

Solacoat cream received a TSR value of 84.9%, which is one of the highest ratings in the world for a heat reflective coating!

Spring is the best time of the year to paint rooves - before it gets too hot to paint!. We're encouraging reduction of carbon emissions by GIVING AWAY A FREE EXTRA 15L OF SOLACOAT with every 5 x 15L of Solacoat purchased in OCTOBER.

The pictures show Solacoat applied to the railway tracks at Flinders St Station in Melbourne to help stop the rail lines from buckling, and applied to a corrugated iron roof to reduce the internal temperature of a building.

Next >> Cool paint