Updated: Apr 27, 2020

A short guide to making your re-decorating environmentally sound by one of North London premium painting companies (if we may say so ourselves). How to choose the right company so that you not only go gentle on Mother Earth, but also avoid those famous paint fumes which might be unhealthy for you and your family.

Girl on London beach in low tide

“One of the first things I did when we formed Sultan Decorators was to research how we could make the business more sustainable. After extensive googling and consulting experts I quickly realised that it is about so much more than avoiding smelly paint… ” (Diana Voxerbrant, Managing Director)

Choosing Environmentally Friendly Paint – A Guide

1. Don’t use oil-based paint.

Over the past couple of decades, water based paints have taken over from the oil based compounds. Some old school decorators will claim that oil still gives the “best finish” and if you want a glossy, extremely wipe-able finish and not willing to invest – then maybe this is the case. But a modern decorator, especially one who is environmentally conscious will steer you away from oil based as it’s not only very harsh on the environment, it also contains “volatile organic compounds”, or VOC’s as they’re also known. These are toxic to inhale and especially detrimental if you suffer from asthma or other respiratory conditions; or have small children or elderly individuals in your home.

2. Don’t believe the hype.

About 10 years ago EU made it obligatory for paint producers to limit their VOC’s and a bunch of them decided that this was a marketing opportunity.

If you look at the different ‘eco’ or ‘natural’ paint producers carefully you will quickly come to the conclusion that nobody really knows what that description means. Many take synthetic, petrochemical-based ingredients, just in lower amounts; others are made with natural solvents, which still contain VOCs just smell nicer. Most contain animal products and a bunch use titanium dioxide as a whitener, which is a big contributor to environmental problems.I have been reading the labels carefully and considering the claims made by the manufacturers and to be honest, I was still confused.

3. Choose the right painter

I asked my friend who is an environmental scientist about this and he said the best thing to do is NOT to re-decorate as all paints are hard on our environment. This might sound like counter intuitive advice for a painting company to give their clients, but bear with me. The trick is to choose a painter who will paint your walls in such a way, that you don’t require painting for a long time. This will not be the cheapest quote. Make sure they prepare and repair your walls properly, so that you get the most out of the paint that you choose. When it comes to eco-friendly paints, many of them require extra knowledge and skill to apply. Make sure that the painter or company you choose has experience in the paints you have chosen.

4. Choose the right paint brand

We actually advise all our clients to choose a water based low VOC paint brand. This can be a luxury paint like Avko Interior Luxury Paint or a standard trade paint like Dulux Trade. Many clients think that Farrow & Ball has excellent environmental credentials, but they actually only adhere to the regulations set by the government regarding low VOC. The problem with Farrow and Ball is that it is a 3 coat system which requires flawless preparation. Even when the painters are trained and skilled with Farrow & Ball it is a very delicate paint which scratches easily and you end up re-decorating earlier than you think. There are other designer brands like Little Greene or Benjamin Moore Natura which are just as eco-friendly but will give you a better and more durable finish.

If you want to choose the most environmentally friendly brand you possibly can – the Sultans love working with Earthborn Paints. Water-based and free of petrochemicals, they are the only UK brand to carry the EU eco-label flower accreditation. Their clay based paints are simply divine.

If you have more questions about our painting and decorating services feel free to get in touch or fill out our quote request form for a free quote visit!

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