If you are truly dedicated to the eco movement, you might consider using natural mineral-based paints for your next house painting project. In addition to being the most environmentally friendly option, these paints have particular characteristics that affect how you use them and when they are practical. Natural paints are those that are manufactured from only natural substances: pigments are often made from minerals and clay; solvents and fillers are also derived from organic sources, such as plant resins. House painting with natural paints, as we will see, is actually quite easy and delivers great results.
Natural milk paints are an excellent choice for interior walls, cabinets and furniture, although they have a different look than standard paints. They give a grainy look with very little shine, and are not particularly washable on their own, so it is often a good idea to seal with a clear coat. Milk paint actually comes in powder form, and you must mix it with water, usually 1 part water to 1 part powder, or according to the manufacturers instructions. They are fairly expensive: priced at $30 (Can.) or more for enough product to cover 150 square feet of surface. But you get both a green product, and a unique finish that is sure to impress.
Milk paint and other natural paints can be applied using conventional brushes and rollers, but the steps to the coating system are a little different. First of all, milk paint requires a porous substrate to bond well. It is excellent over bare wood, for example. If you want to use milk paint on a previously-painted or varnished surface, you’ll need to use a special milk paint bond coat. As you work on the project, you want to stir the paint every ten minutes or so, because the solids settle at the bottom over time. Milk paint also dries quickly, so you want to work efficiently to keep a “wet edge”; in other words, don’t let the paint dry too much from one area to the next. You will want to apply 2 coats of the paint, and then 1 coat of clear sealer for best results. Milk paint leaves a very even and desirable finish, and the clear coat adds to the color depth and gives a gentle shine.
Other natural paints come pre-mixed, and are used much the same, though they do not require a clear sealer as with milk paint. They also tend to dry fairly quickly. These paints have almost no odor, and no VOCs. Natural paints are great for bedrooms, ceilings, and even areas exposed to heavy wear, but you must realize that they wear differently than ordinary paints; the natural ingredients create a finish that wears gradually, creating an interesting patina and distressed look. They are also moisture and mildew resistant, and allow the material to breath, so they can actually perform well in a bathroom or kitchen. Milk paint should be sealed for improved washability, however. Clean up is very easy, and only requires water to clean tools. Overall, natural paints can make house painting a safe task, and give a very interesting look to your home.