Last year I began using what has to be the healthiest exterior paint in the world, and I’ve been using it again this past spring.
It sports a pleasant aroma, it’s completely organic and it’s also supposed to be outrageously durable — 50 years durable, in fact.
But even if this tall claim proves too-good-to-be-true, I’m still glad I used this stuff.
The product is made by a small Swedish company called Allback and I applied it to five wooden window frames I repainted last June, then some window sashes and an exterior cedar door last month.
It’s made following an age-old traditional recipe that’s as simple as it is intriguing. There are only three ingredients: organic, cold-pressed boiled linseed oil, a non-toxic drying agent and natural pigments — a fact that’s got to make you wonder. If all it takes to produce great paint is these three items, why is almost every other paint company on the planet formulating and reformulating and re-reformulating complicated, secret recipes while scrambling to meet ever tightening government restrictions on solvent use?
My decision to use Allback did not come easily. After a lot of research, the factor that finally led to my choice was the 50-year longevity claim. Anything as outrageous as this deserves a try.
The Allback people assert that their paint never peels, and this was the clincher for me. It will oxidize over the years, and it’ll eventually wear thin and require re-coating, but it’s never expected to peel.
If you’ve ever faced the job of refinishing an old, peeling surface (especially something as intricate as a wooden window sash), you’ll immediately recognize how attractive no-peel performance is.
Without the need to scrape off flakes of old paint, the job of repainting becomes much, much easier. And while I won’t know if the Allback product really lives up to its claims until the year 2058, what I’ve noticed during application gives me hope.
I began work by sanding old wood bare, and this revealed just how dry and thirsty the wood was.
The Allback process begins with a coat of their own protein-free boiled linseed oil to slake the thirst of older wood such as this. It bubbled, fizzed and soaked right in as I brushed it on, supporting the main claim for traditional linseed paints.
Since it penetrates deeply into the wood, it gains a very solid foothold below the surface. This is why it’s never supposed to peel.
Is there a downside? Yes.
First off, the product is very expensive. A one litre can costs about $40, making it practical for small, fiddly jobs rather than big expansive ones.
Another issue is availability. You won’t find Allback in any home improvement stores. As far as I know, the only Canadian source is a small, Toronto retailer called Swede Paint (www.swedepaint.ca; 866-516-7787).
Although they don’t list Allback paints on their website, they can obtain most of the product line carried by the US company Solvent Free Paint (www.solventfreepaint.com; 585-924-8070).
This website is the one to check out for more technical details.
Another thing is how long linseed paint takes to dry and how finicky it is about applying anything more than the thinnest coats.
Although this paint becomes dry to the touch after one day, it takes about a month before all residual tackiness disappears.
And although the first coat can be applied with moderate generosity, be absolutely sure to brush out the second coat very thin. If not, the surface develops a crinkly appearance wherever thick areas of oil pool and harden.
Was my gamble worth it? So far so good, but check back with me when I’m 96.
Steve Maxwell is Canada’s award-winning home improvement expert, and technical editor of Canadian Home Workshop magazine. Sign up for his free homeowner newsletter at www.stevemaxwell.ca