Our Paint

HOW IT WORKS [THE OILY PARTS]

Linseed oil paint is an overachiever when it comes to raw wood, metal and plaster.  It really outperforms on these bare surfaces. Linseed oil has a lower surface tension and smaller molecules than water, so it’s absorbed into these surfaces deeper than water can reach. It fills the cells of the wood, stabilizes it and makes it water-resistant. On metal, it finds its way into every nook and cranny (just as with wood) and prevents water from contacting those surfaces thus preventing rust. Fundamentally, the oil in the paint becomes part of the wood and metal, finding its way into all the microscopic cavities. Modern coatings don’t soak in; they rest on top, letting the wood and metal fend for themselves. 

For the reasons above, Heron paint works best on raw substrates. That said, linseed oil paint sticks to nearly everything (including glass and plastic) thanks to those smaller molecules. It even sticks to other kinds of paint (polyacrylates/alkyls), but keep in mind it will not absorb into the wood if it is already painted with other types of paint. Its longevity will be at the mercy of the coats that are underneath it. If they fail, it fails. In most cases linseed oil paint will stick exceptionally well to non-linseed oil products, but it’s best to run some tests. It’s perfectly understandable to not want to strip the substrate down bare, and in most repaint scenarios, linseed oil paint will work if you want to forgo reapplying plastic paints. You’ll be sacrificing many benefits of the product, but you’ll be painting with a far healthier, sustainable, and plastic-free alternative.

HOW IT WORKS [THE PIGMENT PARTS]

Heron Paint is loaded with pigment. You’ll notice how heavy a container is. As nothing evaporates from the paint, every bit of what’s in the can will stay on your substrate. While the oil works its magic, allowing the substrate to breathe out water vapor, the large amounts of pigment in the paint ward off destructive UV light. We work with traditional, natural pigments that offer weatherability and lightfastness. We grind organic and inorganic pigments, all of which come from nature and are processed in varying ways. Linseed oil is slowly degraded by UV light in a natural process and over time this affects the appearance of the paint. Freshly painted shiny surfaces will slowly appear matte over time, and if not maintained, will become “chalky”. Darker colors will appear lighter if not maintained. This is due to the linseed oil on the surface biodegrading from the sun, exposing now uncoated pigment particles. These pigments are now exposed and reflect light differently, altering the appearance. Over time, the unbound pigments are washed off the surface by wind and rain, taking dirt and environmental buildup with them. This self-cleaning is a benefit to the life cycle of a neglected paint job, but the best part is its repairability. The linseed oil that’s been degraded by the sun can be replaced with a fresh thin coat of oil. The fresh oil will soak into the exposed pigment, giving new life to the paint film. This oil maintenance is usually reserved for mid-tone and darker colors. The brightest paints tend to show a yellow hue so repainting these light colors is often the best bet. The re-oiling process can go on for many years. There’s no way to refresh the binder in a modern coating. Recoating is the only option.

ZINC OXIDE

Our paint contains zinc oxide pigment as a formula additive. Zinc oxide works as a natural fungicide and aids in making a more durable film finish. If you're concerned with zinc interacting with your plaster project, please contact us about a zinc-free special order.

WHY THIN COATS MATTER SECTION

Linseed oil paint should be NY thin crust, not Chicago deep dish. Think frost on your windshield, not a layer of snow. SPF 50 sunscreen, not rodeo clown. You get the idea.

Our paint dries by its interaction with the environment, not evaporation like other paints. Nothing evaporates from our paint. The drying process is determined by the availability of oxygen, heat, UV light and good air flow. When the conditions are met, a chemical reaction takes place through the wet paint layer. If the layer is too thick, that chemical reaction has a really hard time traveling all the way through it. It takes a long, long time and can cause adverse effects like skinning and wrinkling. Thin coats allow for full curing of the paint film, and our oil is processed in such a way to be able to apply thinner coats without worrying about coverage. It “grips” the surface, even when it’s thin. To put this in perspective, most modern acrylic exterior paints call for 4-6.5 mil thickness of the wet coat. Linseed oil paint should be applied at a maximum of 4 mils.

Thinner coats allow for faster, more thorough cure times so your project can move forward.

ON RAW WOOD

On raw wood it’s always the best case to start with a clean, completely dry and dust free surface. If the surfaces are to be washed, use a neutral pH cleaner. High or low pH cleaners can be detrimental to linseed oil and can lead to breakdown. It’s good practice to avoid pressure washing altogether.

A thin primer coat of 30/70 to 50/50 linseed oil paint to refined linseed oil penetrates the surface while helping hide the grain with pigment. Pigment opacity will be cut down, but the extra oil is what you’re after if you’re going this route.

This first saturating coat is really helpful for older, dry surfaces. It’s good practice to apply two to three additional finish coats of full linseed oil paint. The oil in each coat will keep wicking into the wood until a peak saturation level has been reached. At that point the sheen on the third coat will appear even.

OFF THE BRUSH APPEARANCE OF OUR PAINT

If a mirror flat, high sheen finish right out of the can is what you’re after, linseed oil paint isn’t your product. Our paint doesn’t “dry” the way most coatings do. Conventional coatings dry thru evaporation, while ours is composed of 100% solids and forms a polymer network through oxidation. You’re probably aware that not all paints flow and level the same. One paint in your pot will behave 100 different ways throughout the day as temperature, humidity, substrates and solvent levels change. Some paints level; some don’t. Some can achieve nearly blemish-free coats off the brush; often they can’t. Even though the open time is longer than most, Heron Paint is filled with pigments limiting flow out. Nothing evaporates, so what it looks like off the brush is essentially how the dry film will look. The weight of the oil and pigment creates some leveling, but brush marks will remain. Back brushing and tipping off with a separate spalter brush can help achieve better results. That said, there are ways to influence the working properties of our paint for certain applications and looks. We make several linseed oil based products that can be added to the final coats to increase leveling, sheen, hardness, and durability.

METAL

Heron Linseed Oil Paint is great at preserving your metal surfaces in a failproof, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly way.

Click here for suggestions on protecting your metal substrates.

APPLICATION, PPE, & CLEANUP

We suggest using a stiff to medium-stiff brush for most applications of our paint. The majority of brushes we have readily available are for waterborne paint and are too soft for this product. The “oil-based” brushes made of Nylon, hog hair, blended natural bristles or ox hair typically fall into the med or med-stiff categories. The goal is to apply a thin even coat, and if your brush isn’t doing that effectively, taping around the bristles at the ferrule can stiffen the brush. If you’re adventurous, trim the bristles yourself.

As with all paint work, keep yourself and your surroundings as clean as possible. Avoid contact with your eyes, mouth, skin and clothing. Use personal protective equipment. Linseed oil paint can be cleaned from skin and most surfaces with regular dish soap or linseed oil soap. Solvent based thinners are not needed.

It's worth repeating that there's a risk of spontaneous combustion. Rags, steel wool, or waste which absorb linseed oil can spontaneously ignite if improperly discarded. Immediately after use, place rags, steel wool, or soaked material in a water-filled container. A common method is to wet rags, place in a plastic bag, add a little more water and seal the bag for disposal.

A NOTE ON SPRAYING

We’ve tried airless, HVLP, LVLP. We don’t recommend these techniques simply because of the loss of product and the open time of Linseed oil paint. The overspray will create a mess. Smaller tips (mostly meant for light bodied clears and stains) aren’t all that great for the heavier bodied linseed oil paint. Larger orifices and fans just waste product. Keeping the mil thickness even is really important for our cured paint film and in some situations, film thickness is hard to gauge when spraying. Warnings aside, if you have a lot of experience and are good with a gun, you may want to try it. If you’re using our product as a body undercoater, spraying may be a time saving method.

Warning! Hazardous respirable particles may be formed when spraying. Do not breathe respirable droplets or particles.