Old fashioned paint

It has been a positive pleasure painting the windows in the last few days using custom-mixed linseed oil paint from Ingilby’s of Glemsford. The window frames were stripped and repaired, and much of the putty renewed, some time ago, and they have since been given several coats of pure linseed oil to prepare and waterproof them. But for various reasons, I didn’t get round to completing the job.

Now I’m painting, I can immediately see the benefits of using linseed oil on old wood. Where I’ve left a leading edge of paint on bare wood, the oil spreads out of the paint into the wood, which seems to lap it up, almost pickling the timber in oil. That can only be good for long term preservation, especially as absorption is helped by the slowness with which the paint dries.

Slow drying is also the main drawback. It takes a good 24 hours to become touch dry and a week or more to harden, so if there are dust or insects in the air the surfaces will end up a little messy. It is not surprising that linseed oil paints were abandoned as soon as quick-drying solvent based paints became available. I’d certainly not bother with it on a modern building.

But on old wood on an old building, the paint is ideal. It is not cheap – £60 for 2.5 litres mixed to the RAL standard grey I specified – but it has excellent coverage and brushes out very easily. One coat covers completely, though two is recommended for a long lasting finish.The smell is of raw natural oil, which is not to everybody’s liking, but I find it rather pleasant, especially compared with solvent-based paints.

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