When it comes to being healthy at home, most of us probably think of eating our greens and running up and down the stairs. But what about air quality? It’s easy to forget that some of the most polluted air we breathe is inside our homes because of household chemicals, dust, electronic equipment and poor ventilation. Paint is one product which everyone uses in their home which has an effect on air quality. In order to keep your home healthy and as free from indoor pollution as possible, we and others suggest using a breathable paint. But what exactly does this mean or look like? Breathability is one of the words that comes up again and again when talking about paint. Unfortunately many brands use ‘breathability’ loosely and as a marketing term without ever really explaining what this means and how they can technically make these claims. This can be confusing, so we are going to break down the true meaning of breathability, the benefits of choosing a breathable paint, how to spot if a paint is breathable or not and what makes our paint breathable. 'Pale Smoke Grey' breathable emulsion on the walls What does breathable paint mean? Firstly, breathable paints were developed in response to breathable materials, like walls. A breathable wall is effectively doing exactly that – breathing! It absorbs moisture from the air and releases it, much like what we do with oxygen. Breathable paints are those which allow this water and moisture to permeate through materials. When we talk about paint breathability, we are referring to how much air and water vapour can easily flow through the surface. Using paint with a high level of breathability, coupled with breathable building materials means that moisture does not become ‘trapped’ beneath the surface of the paint. Modern dining room in 'Spanish White' with furniture from Lorfords Antiques Damp needs Breathable Paint For many of us damp in our homes can be a very big issue; expensive, unhealthy and quite frankly not very nice to look at or live with. Even if you don’t have the tell tale signs yet you could be on course for damp issues in the future. Home owners do have a habit of painting over damp with plastic, non breathable paint in the hope that it will go away, particularly if they are trying to sell a property. Many a landlord uses cheap modern acrylic paint to cover the mould from unsuspecting renters just for the damp to seep through a few month’s later. Damp causes mould to form which looks horrid but more importantly mould is extremely unhealthy if you live with it. More and more research is being done into the causes of MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) and chronic fatigue syndrome and scientists and medical practitioners’ are beginning to alight on mould spores as a common cause for these conditions. So if you do not deal with the cause of the damp, all you are doing is kicking the issue into the future and in the meantime both the substrate of your property and your own health could be damaged. The good news is much can be done to prevent damp issues by simply using a breathable, natural paint. The key difference between natural paints and modern, acrylic paints is the plastic binder used to make over 95% of wall paint currently sold in the UK. Stone White Water Based Eggshell How do I know if a paint is breathable? Most modern wall paints you know and might love (even those well know premium brands) are made from plastic. By using a synthetic and acrylic based paint you are effectively covering a breathing wall in clingfilm therefore trapping any moisture inside the wall making a damp or mouldy wall go from bad to worse. This impermeable plastic film on the painted surface traps moisture in the substrate which can cause blistering and peeling paint, meaning you will need to repaint all over again. These paints are NOT breathable. Using a natural wall paint which does not contain plastic will allow your walls to breathe. By simply changing to using a breathable paint you are allowing the water vapour to pass through rather than being trapped. How can you find out if paint is really breathable and not just claiming to be? We would suggest to ask your chosen paint brand if they have a list of ingredients so you can see exactly what goes into the tin. Warning signs are ingredients like azo dyes, PVA binder, acrylic, vinyl, ethyl, polymer, alkyl, alkyd, ester, aceto, acetate. Another way to tell is to look at the products SD values, which should be disclosed on Safety Data sheets. For a paint to be classed as breathable, it should have an SD value of 1 or lower, the lower the value the more breathable the paint. Let’s Get Technical and Scientific about Breathability! Our natural paints have a SD (Steam Diffusion) value, which is a commonly used method for measuring breathability. For a paint to be classed as breathable, it should have an SD value of 1 or lower, the lower the value the more breathable the paint. Edward Bulmer Natural Paint Emulsion SD value – < 0.14m Edward Bulmer Natural Paint Water Based Eggshell SD value – < 0.3m Even if your property has not been built with breathable materials like lime plaster, using a breathable paint can still provide to a healthier environment. We also recommend keeping your property well ventilated as well as having good insultation. Our paint tins inspired by nature What makes Edward Bulmer Natural Paint so breathable? Our paint is microporous which means it allows walls and woodwork to breathe naturally. Acrylic paints use petrochemically derived binders that form a clingfilm like layer on the surface of walls when the paint dries which traps moisture in, causing mould. Instead, our wall paints use binders made from plants that allow the flow of air and moisture as nature intended! Our breathable paint will allow the natural moisture that is in the walls and atmosphere to flow through without damaging the building. You may be thinking how can we confidently know that our paints are breathable? This is because we know exactly what goes into each tin, how it’s made and where it is sourced from. We know that no harmful toxins or fossil fuel derived plastics and plastic microbeads go into our wall paint. We use plant-based ingredients as well as earth and mineral pigments and these natural ingredients react with the surfaces they are applied to. Owners of heritage and listed buildings have long understood the importance of breathable paints on old substrates, but this is just as important for modern buildings with the effects of modern living and the need for good insulation, ventilation and a breathable paint. Looking after your home or building now by using breathable paints may ultimately save you thousands of pounds in the long term. Looking after your health by preventing the build up of harmful moulds in your home, might literally change your life and protect everyone in your household. Edward Bulmer Natural Paint tins FIND OUT WHAT GOES INTO OUR PAINT HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT FINISH If a natural, breathable paint is what you are looking for then look no further! Order our colour chart HERE to see our full range of plant-based paints which are safe for you and your home.