Frequently Asked Questions
Please click on any of these frequently asked questions to learn more about linseed oil paint. Alternatively, if you can't find the information you need, please don't hesitate to contact us.
What is linseed oil paint ?
Linseed oil paint is a completely natural product, made from only two ingredients; boiled linseed oil and naturally occurring pigments. It’s as simple as that ! It’s an historically accurate and natural alternative to modern, petrochemical exterior paints. It’s a traditional paint used on many historical properties, and is very popular in Scandinavian countries.
How does it differ from commercially available paint ?
Most external paints form an impermeable layer on top of the surface you’re painting, which may look great initially, but doesn’t wear well in the long term. This barrier prevents moisture trapped under the paint from escaping, which is why such paints flake and blister over time, subjecting the painted surface (wood, for example) to rot or develop mould.
Linseed paint is a permeable layer, which allows moisture to wick away from the surface, preventing flaking, blistering and mould. An application of linseed oil paint is far more durable than that of a petrochemical paint.
Here’s a short animation that explains exactly how it works:
How is the paint produced ?
Flax seed is pressed to make raw linseed oil, which is boiled to make it more durable and quick-drying. Only powdered pigments are then added, which are all entirely natural. That’s it: no solvents, binders or emulsifiers.
Gunnar Ottosson from Ottosson Färgmakeri, explains how they make the best linseed paint in the world in this fantastic video.
Is it more expensive than other types of paint ?
Oricalcum linseed paint is cheaper than many more commonly known brands you would consider for exterior paint. It's even better value when you consider that it doesn't need to be reapplied every few years. We keep a close eye on prices and make sure we’re offering you the best value possible. On our product pages, we compare prices against other brands.
We keep our overheads as low as possible, so that we can maintain what we think are very good value prices for our customers.
Is it more environmentally friendly ?
Yes. Linseed paint only contains oil from natural flax seed plus natural pigments. There are no smelly or toxic solvents, binders or emulsifiers. And with such simple ingredients, no big, dirty refineries are needed to manufacture it, either!
Is it more durable ?
Providing you’ve used the paint properly, you won’t need to paint the same surface again. Ever. Since the paint doesn’t flake or peel, you’ll only need to repaint if you want a change of colour. Depending on exposure to weather, the linseed oil on the very surface will break down after about 10 years – which simply means the surface will go slightly chalky. You may not mind this, but if you want to restore the original effect, a quick wipe with boiled linseed oil will soon restore the original colour and lustre.
What surfaces can I paint on ?
Linseed oil paint can be applied to any surface, including wood, masonry, plaster and metal. It’s especially popular for exteriors because it’s so durable and strong, and doesn’t need reapplying after a few years (so it’s ideal for difficult-to-reach and high places). The finished paint has an eggshell sheen level, and the paint cannot be applied by roller. So, if you are considering using the paint on interior walls and ceilings, please do bear this in mind! It’s not sticky or oily in any way when dry, so you could even use it to paint the inside of a wardrobe.
How do I prepare the surface I’m painting ?
Due to its molecular size, linseed oil paint adheres to pretty much any surface, providing it’s clean and free of grease. It works fantastically well on any timber or metal substrate, as well as completely cured plaster.
Of course, if you’re not sure, it’s always wise to set up a test first (which is where our sample pots come in so handy).
For small holes (up to about 1x1x1 cm), we recommend Rubinol. For large and deep cracks, try filling it first with oakum (flax drenched in pine tar), then finish it with Rubinol. You can also use a more conventional (less eco-friendly) epoxy or resin filler; linseed oil paint should still stick to it, but you might want to test it first, to be sure.
Does it protect the surface I’m painting on ?
Yes. All of our linseed paint includes zinc white oxide, the active ingredient for tackling mould-growth. Since it’s already in our paint, you don’t need to add it – or, by doing so, risk changing the colour. Plus, it contains exactly the right amount.
If you’re painting onto metal, we recommend 2 coats of iron oxide primer, followed by the colour of your choice. This prevents any rust development.
Can it be used for internal decoration ?
Absolutely. Because linseed oil paint is completely free of VOCs, solvents and other nasties, it’s a particularly good choice when you have children and pets.
Does linseed paint come in different finishes ?
Linseed paint only has one finish – which can offer real cost savings! However, you can achieve different effects by adding more layers. So 1 coat usually gives a very matte finish; 2 coats an eggshell or satin finish; and 3 or more deliver a medium gloss. Be aware that linseed oil paint will never result in a very high gloss finish though.
How many coats of linseed paint should I apply ?
One coat provides sufficient protection and appeal for bare timber (such as a log cabin, fence or shed). More coats will increase the gloss level and offer slightly better protection. Doors and windows are best treated with 2-3 coats.
What if you don’t stock the colour I want ?
We can colour-match any colour. The manufacturer, Ottosson Färgmakeri, really does get colours spot-on. All we need is an NCS colour reference or a colour chip. We’ve done this for several estates, including Chatsworth and Haddon, and have produced many perfect matches.
Please contact us if you need us to provide colour-matched paint.
Does linseed paint protect from mould ?
All of our linseed paint includes zinc white oxide, the active ingredient for tackling mould-growth. Since it’s already in your paint, you don’t need to add it – or, by doing so, risk changing the colour. Plus, it contains exactly the right amount.
Do I need any special equipment to apply linseed paint ?
No. All you need is a good quality brush, preferably made of pig bristle. We sell a varierty of application accessories here.
How long does linseed paint take to dry ?
On average, you’ll need to wait 24 hours before it can be overpainted and about 48 hours until it’s completely dry. This is heavily dependent on the weather, as linseed oil dries by exposure to UV light and an absence of humidity.
Can I apply linseed paint in all weather conditions ?
We would never recommend decorating when it’s raining, because the best results are achieved when the paint can dry properly. Try to pick a day when the forecast shows 6-7 hours of dry weather after you finish. If the paint is still soft when it starts to rain, the drops can create little dimples, which may need sanding before you apply a further coat.