Make Safe, Natural Paint

Natural paint offers a sustainable and inexpensive way to add unique colors to your home.


| October/November 2006



natural paint - closeup of brush with green paint

Although several eco-friendly options on the market, many DIYers are choosing to make natural paint using natural materials instead.


Photo by Heather Brown

If you’d like to create a warm and inviting living space, consider using homemade, eco-friendly natural paint. Using natural materials is a great way to bring the outdoors in, and they’re easier on your home because they can allow painted surfaces to release moisture naturally. Plus, most commercially manufactured paints contain toxic materials or petroleum-based ingredients that are energy-intensive to produce.

There are several eco-friendly options on the market, but their cost (up to twice as much as conventional paint) can be prohibitive to painters on a budget. Many DIYers are choosing instead to make their own paint. Creating your own paint is considerably less expensive and can be an extremely satisfying endeavor for anyone whose goal is self-reliance. Mixing your own paint is sometimes the only way to achieve a specific color or effect. In fact, natural paints offer unique finishes very different from those of manufactured products.

There are numerous combinations to choose from when attempting to create the perfect paint for a particular situation. What follows is a guide to understanding natural paint, recipes for some of the easiest and most common types and photos of each kind to inspire you. When you’re ready to experiment with even more natural materials, a good place to start is The Natural Paint Book by Lynn Edwards and Julia Lawless.

What’s in a Gallon?

In its most basic form, paint consists of color (the pigment) and the glue in which the pigment is suspended (the binder). Many paints also contain ingredients that add texture and bulk (fillers), a thinner (the solvent) and other additives, such as biocides and drying catalysts.

Pigments. Safer alternatives to the toxic compounds and heavy metals used to color conventional paint include natural pigments derived from plants, insects, iron oxides and minerals. These are usually in powder form at artists’ supply stores.

Binders. Binders keep paint glued to a surface. The acrylic and vinyl binders in commercial paints are derived from the byproducts of refining crude oil. The binders in natural paints rely instead on materials such as starch (from flour), casein (the protein in milk) and linseed oil (from pressed flax seeds).

angelo
6/15/2016 9:10:53 AM

Can I used banana or guava leaves as an eco friendly paint and answer please because I need this for my research 3


steph
2/7/2011 12:13:12 PM

Hello! Has anyone experimented with using a paint sprayer to apply natural paints? We will be painting over textured drywall, an entire house, and have a sprayer to use. I am compelled to use a natural paint and would prefer to make my own as opposed to purchasing already made to save costs and for the fun of the process. I appreciate you sharing your experiences :o)


steph
2/7/2011 12:06:39 PM

Hello! Has anyone experimented with using a paint sprayer to apply natural paints? We will be painting over textured drywall, an entire house, and have a sprayer to use. I am compelled to use a natural paint and would prefer to make my own as opposed to purchasing already made to save costs and for the fun of the process. I appreciate you sharing your experiences :o)


virginia_19
7/11/2009 7:44:29 AM

Thailand has high humidity plus high heat. What type of interior and exterior can you recommend for this weather? Also wondering if Milk and Flour Paint would attract ants and insects since they're both edible!


don_1
11/19/2008 10:41:20 PM

In step 2 of the flour paint it looks like eleven half cups, but it is actually one and one half cups


lily_2
7/25/2007 11:45:32 PM

Rita- There is already such a product. It is called Paverpol from Holland. It is available in the USA and Canada. It has a safety approved seal to be non-toxic. I used it a lot and it really works-- we made a garden statue out of an old t-shirt! I think it is a patented recipe, so I think you cannot get it. But it is already made, so maybe try to see if it is what you want. Hope this is a help to you.


rita_12
6/4/2007 2:09:07 PM

I want to make an environmentally friendly water based glue that will be used for outdoor projects. The glue has to be a hardener for exterior work. I would appreciate a recipe anybody knows of. Thank you so much.


dawn_14
6/2/2007 11:57:56 PM

I have been using some flour based paint with clay (and some gypsum powder for lightening). I have been painting over an earth plaster. I love the color and texture, but the paint has a tendency to crack pretty extensively. Then I have to paint over the cracks maybe more than once, with not the best results. I wonder if the gypsum might be caussing the paint to crack on drying, or is this a normal characteristic of flour based paint? Thanks.






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