Will Painting make you ill ?

Worried that the ­wallpaper in your front room is looking a bit tatty? Think the bathroom could do with a lick of paint? Well, think twice before you start redecorating.

Chemicals from paint can cause serious health problems - both for those who apply them, whether they are professionals or DIY enthusiasts - and those who have to live in the house afterwards.

There are also hidden dangers in ­apparently simple procedures such as removing old wallpaper and replastering. 

‘People leap into decorating without ­giving a second thought to the risks involved,’ says Dr Richard Deacon, a ­Lancashire-based GP. ‘Decorating ­products need to be handled with care. You need to read the labels carefully. It’s actually a bit like handling medicine.’

So what are the risks - and how can you avoid them... 

Hidden dangers: Paints used in the home often contain harmful chemicals and compounds that are inhaled by the decorator when they dry



Paints used in the home contain ­potentially harmful chemicals such as ­solvents and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). ‘When the paint dries, these chemicals evaporate into the air where the hapless decorator can inhale their toxic fumes,’ explains Dr Deacon. 

Paint falls into two categories: water-based, often referred to as acrylic emulsions and usually used on walls; and solvent, or oil-based paints which tend to be used for a glossy finish (solvents are added to paint to thin the ­mixture so it will spread evenly).
Inhaling paint fumes can exacerbate asthma and ­sinusitis, says Dr Keith Prowse, of the British Lung Foundation.

Because the solvents are absorbed into the lungs, then the blood stream, they can lead to headaches and dizziness. ‘If you paint for too long in a room with no ­ventilation, it can even cause a blackout,’ says Dr Prowse.

When VOCs are inhaled, they can cause eye, nose and throat ­irritation. In large quantities, ­animal ­studies have linked these chemicals to birth defects, cancers and damage to the central ­nervous system.

Professional painters are most at risk: they have a 20 per cent increased risk of a range of ­cancers, particularly lung cancer, according to the World Health Organisation.
Meanwhile, in Denmark, ­specialists have identified a ­neurological condition brought on by long-term exposure to paint solvents — ‘painter’s dementia’.

And men regularly exposed to the chemicals in paint may be more prone to fertility problems, suggests a study from Sheffield and Manchester University.

The World Health Organisation has also raised concerns about the long-term health effects of ‘off ­gassing’, the release of vapours over the life of the paint.

Getting paint on the skin can also lead to an allergic, rash-like reaction, says ­consultant ­dermatologist Dr Andrew Wright, of ­Bradford Teaching ­Hospital Trust. So can white spirit, which is used to remove paint from skin. 

SOLUTION: Water-based paints pose fewer risks than solvent-based ones since they should be toxin-free and also lower in odour. An alternative is to try a ­natural paint such as eco paint, which is solvent, VOC-free and odourless.

Natural paints don’t release toxic fumes. And since brushes can be cleaned with water, there’s no need for white spirit or turpentine — another potential source of ­solvents. Always ensure the room you are decorating is well ­ventilated by opening windows. 

Take frequent breaks in the fresh air and don’t use the room until the paint is completely dry.

Lay out dust sheets and consider wearing a ‘respirator’ mask. 
Solvents are highly flammable — keep paint cans away from open flames. ­Dispose of rags properly — rags soaked with oil-based paints can ignite spontaneously.

Reference : Daily Mail Australia

  • Ross Hopkins

Learn Your Way Around The Earth Tone Color Wheel

We are all familiar with the traditional Rainbow Color Wheel with Red, Yellow and Blue as the primaries and the center filled in with black. In reality, however, if you were to mix ROYGBIV together, you would not get black – you would get a big muddy brown mess. That’s because when you mix complementary colors together, you are “canceling” out the original color to create a muddy, more neutral shade of the two colors. I teach my students how the Rosco earth tones originate from clay earth pigments, such as umber, ochre and sienna, and that they’re the “pretty versions” of those muddy mixes.

Because this is often a new concept/ addition to my student’s color vocabulary, I made a chart on muslin that compares the Rosco Supersaturated earth tones to the Off Broadway earth tones – each mixed with water and mixed with white – to better see how the colors work. This chart, just like the traditional color wheel, shows how some of the earth tone colors are warmer while some are cooler, and really helps when deciding what color to start an off-white mix with.

Pro Tip – Let It Down: Because Rosco’s Scenic Paints are so rich in pigment, they are often thicker than normal house paint and often do not disperse as well when mixing. This is especially true when it comes to their Supersaturated paint concentrate, which is designed to be let down with water. I rarely use Off Broadway or Iddings straight out of the can when mixing either. I prefer to dilute the paint at least 1:1 with water. This makes the paint more fluid and mix faster. I also find I have more control over how it mixes and I’m able to avoid that dreaded “oops moment” when I realize I’ve added too much color and I now need to add a gallon of white into the mix to lighten it up again.

  • Louise Decelis

Pro-Tips & Recipes For Mixing Off-White Paint Tones

Guest Author: Angelique Powers

As a scenic paint instructor, I love taking the fear out of our complicated craft and breaking it down into simple parts. The one thing that scares my students most, it seems, is mixing color. When it comes to the subtlety of mixing off-white, beige tone and even greys, the fear sets in faster and deeper because they know that a mistake often leads to a ton of wasted paint. Below are my favorite tips and tricks that I share with my students to help them build their skill, confidence, and speed at mixing colors – even the subtle tones and hues of an off-white.

All colors can be a bit tricky to mix, but off-whites beige’s and greys are often trickier because they’re about 75% white with 1-3 colors mixed in to make up the remaining 25%. Make one mistake adding in any one of those colors and you could ruin the whole batch – leaving you with several gallons of the wrong color. Knowing what colors to choose and how much to use are key. This why I always advise to…

Start Small

The fastest way to end up with too much paint is to go too dark too fast, because you’ll end up needing to add twice as much white paint back into the mix in order to lighten the hue back up again. That’s why I like to start with one cup of white paint and then slowly add in the mix of other colors. You’ll quickly find out which colors are working and which ones aren’t. Once you’ve got a small ratio that works, you can bump it up to a bigger mix

Pro Tip – Avoid Black: When zeroing in on the final off-white color, it can often be the right hue, just not the right shade. If a color is too bright, often the urge is to add black. In reality, using darker colors like Van Dyke Brown, Raw Umber or Paynes Grey are better choices. They have a magical quality to darken a hue without “graying out” the color the way black can.

When teaching color mixing, I like to have my students mix with Rosco Scenic Paints rather than house paint because the colors are pure, they stay bright and they don’t “fight each other” the way that premixed house paint colors often do.

Off-whites can be broken down the easiest by figuring out what the original color was before without the white to lighten it. Beiges are the trickiest because they are usually a mix of earth tones, usually ranging from Raw Sienna & Raw Umber to Burnt Umber & Burnt Sienna (and who knows what else!!), that are mixed into the white. This is why I think it’s important to…

  • Ross Hopkins

Livos - Natural Oils

  • We offer healthier, sustainable and more economical alternatives to the traditional coating systems.

    The Livos products are manufactured under the Rudolf Steiner principle of using natural raw materials that are completely biologically degradable.

    All products have a FULL ingredient listing with no harmful chemicals. Due to the nature of the products one can easily repair or rejuvenate a surface without the need of resanding. The product range is extremely versatile and may be used on many various surfaces.

    As part of the company, we also supply the service of sanding and oiling timber floors, including oiling of concrete floors in Victoria and interstate.

    Livos Germany manufacture under the guiding principles of:

    • Sustainable economic management
    • Closed material cycles
    • High technical quality
    • Consciousness and self-reliance of the consumer
    • Acting for the benefit of customers
    • Environment protection

    From a health perspective, the products are:

    • Free of toxic substances
    • Selected solvent-free products
    • No development of harmful vapours during application
    • No harmful gas emission from the dried oil or paint
    • Harmonizing effect on the indoor climate
    • Antistatic effect, i.e. reduction of dust exposure

    From an ecological aspect the products are:

    • Based on renewable raw materials
    • Completely biodegradable ingredients
    • Safe for humans, animals, plants, even in direct contact
    • Production without environmental impact
    • Easy recycling
    • Human, environment, and posterity compatibility

    From a technical and end users point of view and benefits:

    • High quality standard
    • Easy application with all established procedures
    • Easy renovation possibilities
    • Economical usage
    • An intermediate sanding is the exception
    • Special effects with simple application
    • Easy care


    Livos Australia supply products to home renovators and the building industry that are ecologically sustainable. Their products use organically sourced natural raw materials. They are recyclable and biodegradable, cause no harm to the environment and are easy and a pleasure to use.  Besides this, the business owners are committed to educating professionals, tradespeople and the layperson alike, on building sustainably and keeping buildings healthy. They provide efficient and effective advice to people using or specifying their products and they actively connect those interested in sustainability with each other. For years, alongside their products, Livos have been promoting green living, at festivals, lectures, on the internet, etc. and taught and inspired many, with their practices. They deserve a Green Award as recognition for the way they have chosen to conduct their business and the wonderful example they set for others. Lynnsay Prunotto Architect

    We are so happy with your Livos oil in our superpodhome project. We used your oils on our Australply Hoop Pine Ply cabinet work and linings.  The oil is lovely to work with and enhances the timber without being overly shiny. We also used your oils on our concrete slab floor.  Again, the oils were just beautiful to work with.  A true confession, we oiled the floor in bare feet with no worries about getting any of it on our skin.  It smells so beautiful you can just tell it is environmentally friendly! Please tell your supporters that if they want to build an environmentally friendly home, they can talk to us about a superpod podhouse, which uses virtually no heating (in Victoria Australia), and no aircon either!  Good for our environment, and so great to live in.  Fiona McKenzie, Founding Director Superpod Pty Ltd

    Linda and I went to see the floor this afternoon and we both very much like the result – it has brought the concrete floor to life and it is quite a rich surface.  I’m very glad we found out about the Livos approach as it is much more preferable to us than the toxic polyurethane type of treatment. Linseed and beeswax are familiar aromas to me and actually quite pleasant. Robert has done a great job, and it must have been tricky because we have only one wall that has a skirting board. So, thanks for your assistance and patience with us changing start times etc. and to Robert for doing a terrific job in a very hot week. Cheers, Richard & Linda

    I had my tasmanian oak floors treated by Anro floors 10 years ago and was thrilled with the results.The use of non toxic chemicals was a high priority to me, having a family.
    The floors coped well with a growing family and pets and  to this day still look rich and enhanced. I have had no reservations recommending this floor treatment to many friends and family. Thank you Angela and Rob. Jan Ure Interior Decorator

    In early 2011 the City of Yarra was looking for a more environmentally friendly method of treating its historic Town Hall Floors. It was decided to use Livos Australia to sand and oil the stage floor in the Fitzroy Town Hall as it was in very poor condition. The benefits we found were a minimal impact from smell and disruption compared to traditional synthetic coatings. Also given the floor is used for public functions it is regularly scratched by hirers of the hall. We found that the floor was quickly and easily repaired without the need to re sand the surface. I would not hesitate in recommending Livos Australia for other projects. David Laidlaw Executive Project Engineer City of Yarra

  • Ross Hopkins

Top 10 Painting Tips

Below is Haymes Paints Top 10 Tips for Painting Exterior Surfaces


Tip 1

Ensure you check any existing paint to make sure it is suitable for painting by cutting an "X" in the surface with a sharp knife. Then press some tape firmly over the "X" and pull it off. If any existing paint is removed, this means the surface is not suitable for painting and will need to be removed in the form of scraping and sanding it off.

Tip 2
Thoroughly wash away any dirt, dust and mould as the presence of contaminants on the surface can cause loss of adhesion of the new paint system. The easiest way to clean the area is by pressure washing the surface. Hosing the surface with a garden hose will not produce enough pressure to ensure the surface is clean.

Tip 3
Sand any remaining chalky surfaces to remove all chalk.

Tip 4
Do not paint if rain or dew is expected within 24 hours.

Tip 5
Use a high quality acrylic exterior paint, such as Haymes Solashield, as acrylic paints have high UV resistance and last longer than solvent based enamel paints.

Tip 6
Paint in the shade, as it will be easier to apply, whereas the sun causes paint to dry too quickly and makes application difficult.

Tip 7
Avoid painting in very windy conditions, as wind also dries paint quickly and can deposit dust onto the painted surface.

Tip 8
Start on the wall areas and finish with the trims. For more information on painting trims and windows, simply watch our DIY video ‘How to Paint Exterior Trims and Windows’.

Tip 9
If you have weatherboards and want to know how to paint the outside of your house, simply watch our DIY video ‘How to Paint Exterior Weatherboards’Tip 10

Tip 10
Now it’s time to stand back and enjoy the rewards.

  • Ross Hopkins

A Unique Painted Floor in 5 Easy Steps

Forget the carpet versus floorboards debate. If your flooring is in need of an update but you’re not sure what to do, try this easy and unique stencilled floor design. The design is perfect for an entranceway, to get that wow! factor as you walk through the door. It would also be ideal for a tranquil, getaway space in the house.

unique painted floor styled final

Please note, this DIY is for an interior timber floor. You will need to adapt the process if you have a concrete or paved floor, or if you would like to use this product on exterior flooring. Speak to your Haymes Paint stockist for more details.


  • Brush
  • 270mm roller kit
  • Stencil of choice
  • Small foam roller kit
  • 5m unbleached muslin fabric
  • Stack of absorbent paper – newspaper or similar



Apply your Ultra Premium Prepcoat. As this is a water-based product, it will dry fairly quickly. However, you should allow two hours before applying the main colour.


Apply two coats of Gloomy Sky to the surface. Allow two hours for each coat to dry.

applying main colour to surface


Once the main colour of your floor has dried, you then need to apply the Haymes Scumble Medium mixed with Haymes Whitewash 1 across the whole surface, to achieve that washed-out effect.

Mix together one part Scumble Medium, one part Whitewash 1 and one part water – this will create a very thin ‘wash’. Check out the Haymes Scumble Medium paint can for more detailed instructions.

designer finishes interior scumble medium paint tin

Crisscross the Scumble Medium wash over the Gloomy Sky paint with a paintbrush.

Next, roll up a large ball of the muslin fabric, and use this to gently absorb and smudge the wash across the floor to create a cloudy effect.

Work over about 1m2 at a time, until the whole surface is covered. Allow two hours to dry.


Pour Haymes Whitewash 1 undiluted into the roller tray and roll the foam roller into the paint. Then roll the foam roller out onto some absorbent paper, so that you are left with minimal paint on the foam roller.

Lie the stencil over the floor, and gently roll the foam roller across the stencil. The foam roller should be semi dry because you discarded the excess paint earlier. This will create a light, faded appearance on the floor. The paint also won’t bleed under the stencil – this is very important! Allow two hours to dry.

stencilling pattern on floor


Once you have stencilled across the entire surface, apply two coats of Haymes Aqualac Satin to protect against wear and tear.

Allow two hours for the first coat to dry. After the final coat, allow four hours for the paint to completely dry before walking on or using the area.

And there you have it. An easy, DIY stencilled floor that will create an instant wow factor right at your feet!

unique painted floor final

Article courtesy of Haymes Paint