Intserv Painting

All About Linseed Paint

There’s reassurance on every point


When can I apply linseed paint?

In Sweden, the outdoor paint season runs from between roughly the end of March and October, depending on the weather. Linseed paint dries by exposure to UV light and the dry weather definitely helps too. Doors and windows with moving parts need to be able to dry quite quickly, so we recommend application in the season. Sheds and fences can be painted outside this period but will take longer to dry.

Is linseed oil paint expensive?

Linseed paint is surprisingly inexpensive; in fact, it’s actually cheaper than most other high-quality paints. This table gives a rough price comparison:

Manufacturer Price / m2
ORICALCUM Linseed Paint £1.75
Farrow & Ball Exterior Eggshell £2.36
Sikkens Rubbol £1.71
Dulux Trade Weathershield £1.51
Hamerite Direct to Rust Metal Paint £5.33

All prices based on cost of 1L tin or nearest equivalent, accurate Sept 2015

What’s so special about it?

The best thing about linseed oil paint is that you never need to reapply, and maintenance couldn’t be simpler. That’s because it’s breathable – or, more accurately, it lets timber wick out any moisture which has slipped under the paint. This means no more flaking or peeling paint, and no more rotting timber.

So what does maintenance look like?

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.

Is it difficult to use?

It’s so easy to use. Most surfaces can be painted straight from the tin. If your wood is very absorbent, dilute the first coat with either raw or boiled linseed oil. If you’re working with very dense hardwood, dilute the first coat of paint with up to 15% Balsam Turpentine.

Can you supply an exact match for, say, Farrow & Ball paints?

Yes, 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.

Do you need different versions for timber, plaster, metal, etc?

No. 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).

Does linseed paint work on metal?

Yes, it provides exceptional protection against rust. We recommend 2 coats of iron oxide primer, followed by the colour of your choice.

Linseed paint as rust primerThe sample on the left shows one coat of iron oxide primer painted on metal. The sample left on a south-facing facade for 7 years. Substantial rust can be seen forming on the metal surface which was left untreated. The surface painted with iron oxide primer has been scraped with a knife in order to remove the paint. The metal plate beneath shows absolutely no signs of corrosion and still remains shiny.

Do you need different versions for matte, satin, gloss, etc?

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. Linseed oil paint will never result in a very high gloss finish.

Do you have to get every last bit of old ‘Dulux’-type paint off first?

The wicking properties of linseed paint work best when applied to bare timber. The Speedheater Cobra is phenomenal at removing all old paint from metal and timber surfaces, and we highly recommend it. However, we understand that it’s not always possible to remove all the old paint. In such cases, when painting doors or windows, do your best to remove the old paint overall but pay particular attention to the bottom third of the frame, door and sills. Water will always sink to the bottom sections, which really do need the paint’s wicking properties.

How long does linseed paint take to dry?

On average, you’ll need to wait 24 hours before it can be  over painted 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. If it’s dull or damp, or you simply need to work faster, try our super-fast UV curing lamp or add some Cosirk drying agent to the paint.

Can you use linseed paint indoors?

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.

What’s the coverage like, and how many coats should you add?

1 litre of linseed paint typically covers about 12-15m2. 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.

Can linseed oil paint combat black 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.

Which filler can be used outdoors before painting?

For small holes (up to about 1 x 1 x 1 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.

Can you paint when it’s raining?

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.

Do you need special brushes or tools?

No. All you need is a good quality brush, preferably made of pig bristle – like these brushes.

Where can you buy linseed oil paint?

You can get all of our paint, brushes, oils, soaps, paint removal tools and curing lamps online. Any orders received before 12.00 noon can usually be despatched the same day.

What does delivery cost?

We use Royal Mail/FedEx for almost all of our shipments. As soon as they’ve collected your parcel, you’ll be sent a tracking code so you can keep an eye on it. The shipping costs will be calculated at checkout, based on the combined weight of the items in your basket and your post code.

How do you clean your brushes?

We recommend cleaning your brushes with Krystal brown soap. If you’re using a brush repeatedly on a project, just wipe off any excess paint and suspend it in raw linseed oil between uses. This draws out the paint and keeps the bristles nourished.

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