Design Shopper

Paint: A Buyer’s Guide

10th October 2012  new paint range shown on their backgammon wallpaper

We buy more than 300 million litres of paint a year in the UK. Not surprising really when you consider that a lick of paint is one of the quickest, cheapest and easiest ways to create a new look. Various surveys have found that spending around £1,000 on painting and cosmetic touches can add up around £3,000 to the value of your house. Here’s how to get it right:


1 Don’t throw it away.

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Around 80m litres of paint are stored in sheds or simply chucked out. According to Community Repaint  that’s enough to fill 33 Olympic size pools. Visit this website and see if there’s a place for your unwanted tins of Wicker Dreams and Celtic Mist. A network of 65 community-based projects, they will donate your leftovers to charities, community and voluntary groups. Or contact your local council about disposal.

2 Switch to Eco Paints.

For every tonne of paint produced there are up to 10 tonnes of waste, much of it toxic. Many paints contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which contribute to global warming. John Dison, of Earthborn Paints says customers should always look for a full list of ingredients.

Earthborn Paints: the first to carry the EU’s eco accreditation

“Just because something is labelled natural doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful. Some eco paints use citrus oil as an alternative to petrochemical solvents but that has been found to be an extreme pollutant,” he says.

It is now the law that the VOC content must be displayed on all products for use around the home.

Ecos Organic Paints was voted the most environmentally friendly paint by Which Magazine, and has been used in the Allergy UK offices as well as the Olympic village, the Houses of Parliament and the Bristol Cancer Health Hospital.

The newest recruit to the eco paint range is Mini Moderns. The cult interiors brand, known for their wallpapers, has just launched their own range of paint made from, wait for it, recyled paint. Consisting of 12 colours created to co-ordinate with their wallpapers and soft furnishings, the range has been developed in partnership with Newlife Paints, an award-winning eco paint manufacturer that specialises in reprocessing waste water-based paint to create premium grade emulsion. All the paints in the range contain up to 90 per cent recycled content, made up from waste paint that has been diverted from landfill or incineration.

harvest orange by mini moderns

Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire, the founders of Mini Moderns, found Newlife Paints on Twitter: “We thought to ourselves – paint made from paint that has been thrown away – surely thatʼs too good to be true? But once we had visited their factory and met Keith Harrison, the brains behind the operation, we were convinced that this was an amazing opportunity.”

One other clever little idea of theirs is the project pot. These are 250ml of paint, twice the size of a normal sample pot, which means that you really can test the colour or even do a small project such as paint a chair or highlight a feature.

Mini Moderns Environmentally Responsible Paint is available in 12 shades of matt emulsion. 2.5 litre tins
retail at £32 and 250ml Project Pots retail at £5. Colours include mustard and tangerine dream as well as British lichen and washed denim.


3 Paint like a professional.

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Preparation is everything. Use masking tape around windows, skirtings and doors. Fill gaps with decorators caulk, lightly sand the walls and fill. Start in a corner and do the edges as you go along to avoid an uneven finish. Having just finished our own house renovation, I was constantly amazed by how long it took the painter to do his job. He often spent a couple of days filling and sanding and undercoating, but the difference between what he did and what I would have had the patience to do is amazing.


4 What type of paint?

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Vinyl mat is good for bumpy walls as the flat finish disguises uneven surfaces. However, it does show marks. Vinyl silk is better for halls and kitchens as you can wipe it down. But it will highlight uneven surfaces and is perhaps unfashionably shiny. Glossing is time consuming and hard to apply well but eggshell and satinwood are just as tough, easier to use and look more contemporary.


5 What colour?

dispose of paint in a responsible way

Louise Smith, from Dulux, says: “Colour is back. Just when we thought the UK was about to disappear into a beige abyss, we are fighting back with bold colours and chalky pastels. Pair a strongly coloured wall with a paler version of the same rather than cream for a really great effect.”

And let’s not forget the current mania for grey paint which comes in more than 50 shades and looks really fresh and contemporary. Liz Cann, design director of Zoffany, says: “Grey is a more interesting alternative to white. It’s neutral and sophisticated and, depending on the shade, it works with almost any colour scheme. My favourite greys in the Zoffany paint range are ‘Paris Grey’ which I’ve used frequently in my own house. On the paint chart it has a subtle hint of green but this is not apparent when applied on walls, and ‘Silver’ which is a touch warmer – more like natural linen. Both these shades are now available in graduated lighter and darker versions on our latest paint chart. Pinky greys are best avoided as I’ve found they can appear lilac in large areas. The paler shades of grey are a safe option but I also love the deeper shades of grey which don’t fade into the background and make a beautiful background for paintings and prints’.”

Zoffany has a range of gorgeous grey paints



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