I was futzing around with a low voc, water soluble product called Quantum, but despite the very best efforts of the lovely folks at Bristol in Clifton Hill, we just couldn't get a colour we felt happy with. Ecoply turns out to be a difficult product in that regard; it soaks up heaps of whatever you put on it, meaning that things can end up looking very dark quite quickly. As the ecoply is on our upper story on the north side (above zincalume), I didn't want anything that was going to make it too top heavy. But I kept ending up with either baby poo brown or midwestern barn red.
To complicate matters, we are using (at last count) five different timbers:
- undressed radial sawn, silvertop ash battens (these also suck up heaps of product)
- recycled karri door frames
- finger jointed hoop pine window frames
- treated pine (not the nasty stuff) exposed joists and pergola etc
While I grimaced and grumbled and fretted, Rodney got on the phone to some folks in Byron, at Painted Earth: www.house-paint.com.au. Deb was incredibly helpful in talking through options for low VOC paints, and at her suggestion, we ended up at The Designer Paint Shop: www.designerpaintco.com in Surrey Hills.
Martin is a painter, and has been working with Oikos paints for over a decade (if memory serves me correctly). He very patiently brushed out - I think - six Oikos timber treatments onto ecoply on our first trip, AND a further four on ecoply, two on hoop pine and one on karri on our second trip. And then after all that, made up a special colour just for us, one that happened to turn both the hoop pine and the silvertop the exact same colour as the Karri! He said it was incredibly easy, but some people say that about surfing too.
The product we're using is actually a wax. Theoretically, unless abraded by sand or something like that, the protection will last many years, and the biggest problem we will have is that the colour will fade over time.
Here's a little spiel from the website:
NOVALIS WAX FINISH WOODSTAIN is a a transparent, acrylic, woodstain. Its formulation allows it to protect wood from atmospheric agents, Uv rays, woodworm and fungi whilst at the same time maintaining the natural beauty of the wood. The product is available in a vast range of colours, obtained using special transparent pigments. Easy and quick to use, it is non-yellowing and since it works by penetrating into the wood and not by forming a film on the surface, there are no problems of it peeling away in time.
At Martin's suggestion, we are using a product called Archital to paint the ecoply that will be behind our battens. Our builder had suggested black, but after a discussion with Martin, we went for a deep grey/black that he invented for the job. It's already up on the eastern side, and I love it so much I nearly cancelled the battens!
On the money side of things, our exterior paint is costing us more than we budgeted for. It will come in at about $1400. We'll also need more coats than our builder costed, so there will be some extra labour costs, but more coats now means greater protection and longer re-coat time, so we will save money in the longer term on that score. And I actually think any product we used would have required more than two coats - the ecoply just slurps it up. So on a metre for metre basis, I'm not actually sure that the Oikos product is costing us much more than any other.
So that's our paint journey to date. No more sleepless nights on that score. I must say it's reassuring to know that once we find a colour we like (the hard bit, Rodney has a very complex relationship with colour!), the internals will be a cinch. Martin has a spectrometer, so we can take it to him and he will make us an internal paint to match.
Oh, and I should've said this earlier, all the above products are non-toxic, GECA certified, and low voc. That's all Oikos makes, and they've been doing it for a relatively long time. Europe is way ahead of the pack on this stuff.
If you are at all in the market for paint, go to these guys!!! They rock.