What is Linseed Oil Paint?

By Scott Sidler July 2, 2018

what is linseed oil paintThese next couple weeks I’ve partnered with Natalie Yon-Eriksson of Earth & Flax to bring you some great content on old school paints and coatings that have been making a resurgence recently. This week we’ll be talking about Linseed Oil Paints.

I have just started experimenting with linseed oil paints lately and so Natalie was the perfect person to bring in to talk about these old school paints so you can decide if they might be right for you. Next week we’ll be talking about Pine Tar which is another amazing coating for old houses!

I hope you enjoy this guest post by Natalie and if you want to learn more about her company please visit her website at EarthAndFlax.com

What is Linseed Oil Paint?

Linseed Oil Paint is a traditional material still manufactured in Scandinavia. It is a solvent-free, paint created from flax oil and natural pigments that does not trap moisture that can lead to paint failure and extensive wood rot.

Ideal for old homes with many wood surfaces, Linseed Oil Paint has a wide range of applications, including metal as it is a natural rust inhibitor. The key to the effectiveness of this product is that it uses a degummed, cleaned, or “purified” linseed oil that has had the protein or food value removed, creating a natural wood preservative with superior moisture and UV protection for long-term results.

When and where to use it?

Linseed Oil Paint can be used on exterior and interior surfaces, including siding, porches, windows, trim, etc. While Purified Linseed Oil Products are designed to protect, preserve, and nourish wood surfaces, Linseed Oil Paint can also be used on metal fences, gates, hardware, fittings, etc.

How to apply it?

Mix paint well. Natural pigments may settle to the bottom of the can. Apply 2-3 thin coats to a clean, dry surface. If mixed with a Purified Linseed Oil, it is easy to create a custom stain for wood surfaces.

No special primer is needed for any of these linseed oil products but it can be beneficial to do what I’m starting to call a “primer” coat of Purified Linseed Oil before application of paint or pine tar (we’ll discuss pine tar below) as it helps nourish the wood and gets best coverage from the paint/pine tar (aka oil in paint/pine tar is not immediately soaked into very dry wood like a sponge).

Three thin coats of Linseed Oil Paint is recommended for all exterior applications (It may be possible to get away with 2 coats only but I recommend 3 thin coats). The 3rd coat may seem like an extra step to some but the protection and strength of the painted surface with a 3rd coat is exponential.

What kind of coverage should I expect?

Depending on the brand, coverage is approximately 510-650 sq ft per gallon

What are the benefits?

  • Cost savings: A paint job is 90% labor so using a material with low maintenance requirements like Linseed Oil Paint, that doesn’t peel and need to be scraped in the future represents an enormous cost savings over time
  • Better coverage: Linseed Oil Paint has almost twice the coverage of a conventional acrylic paint.
  • Maintenance is easy: Clean with a non-petrochemical cleaner and oil with Purified Linseed Oil in the years to come or a thin maintenance coat of paint if so desired. No peeling with Linseed Oil Paint as it does not create a barrier like acrylic based paints and other modern coatings. As it ages, Linseed Oil Paint simply becomes matte and requires reapplication of Purified Linseed Oil to return the original intensity of the color or pigment.
  • No barrier and high penetration: Materials sink into the wood instead of sitting on the surface like a plastic bag trapping moisture. Wood needs natural oil not water. Feed the wood with purified oil and get a much longer life out of the wood and superior weather protection.
  • Healthier to work with: No solvents in the paint or used during application and clean-up. Safer to use and safer for the environment.

What should I watch out for?

Dry time for Linseed Oil Paint is slower than a conventional plastic paint but this is also why it lasts so much longer. A small amount of patience will provide exponential results in the long run.

Based on the variety of climates in North America, it is advisable to work with a Linseed Oil Paint that includes zinc which helps prevent mildew growth. Depending on which brand this is either included already or can be added before application.

It is not recommended to mix systems. If you decide to go with Linseed Oil Products, embrace that sphere of products and do not mix with acrylic or petrochemical products. Use like-with-like and you will get the best results.

Do not mix with conventional boiled or raw linseed oil that is not purified as it may not dry, can go rancid, and has unnecessary solvent additives.

Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions and to discuss which brand of Linseed Oil Paint is right for you at [email protected].

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