Auro Paint Review

When people ask me how they can introduce more sustainable decisions into their home DIY, my first response is to review what paint you are using to decorate. Every room in your home will be decorated to some extent. From wall and ceiling emulsion through to skirting gloss, the paints we use can have a greater impact on our health and the wider environment than we often realise. This post reviews Auro paint, the only company I have found which uses exclusively natural materials whilst providing a durable and even finish.

Sustainable Paint

When you consider how much time we spend within our homes, and the surface area covered by walls, ceilings, floors and joinery, there seems little excuse for not finishing our surfaces with sustainable paint and varnishes. There are a number of leading brands on the market which people automatically think of purchasing when popping down to their local DIY store, however there are sustainable paint options that we should be considering if we want to do ourselves and the planet a favour.

There are an increasing number of sustainable paint suppliers available to choose from, including Graphenstone, Earthborn and Kiem. In this blog post I will be reviewing two Auro products I have recently used. Auro have been producing paint for over 30 years and  I have been using it for the last three. But why?

It is no secret that most paints and varnishes contain nasties that can prove to be harmful to building occupants and the environment. Natural ventilation within our homes has dramatically reduced through the use of sustainable energy saving solutions, such as double glazing, improved insulation and other draft exclusion measures. However, this lack of air transfer can result in a build up of harmful fumes. The paint we use within our homes may contain a cocktail of toxic ingredients, including vinyl acrylic, styrene acrylic, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), synthetic pigments (such as iron oxide, titanium dioxide, and calcium carbonate), ultraviolet stabilizers, thickeners, and texturizers. During application, paint and varnish can have hazardous effects on our bodies, resulting in headaches, skin irritations, allergies and asthmatic reactions. Even when the paint is dry, and the fumes no longer detectable, VOCs and other synthetic compounds continue to slowly release chemicals which are breathed into our lungs and contribute towards depletion of the ozone layer. Legislation within the UK limits the amount of VOCs used in paint products, however even low quantities are known to be a trigger for asthma sufferers.

The main environmental impacts associated with paint are a result of the manufacture of paint components. Titanium dioxide is a pigment used in white paints. It has very high embodied energy (54 – 76 MJ/kg) and during manufacture may emit CO2, N2O, SO2, NOx, CH4 and VOCs, whilst also resulting in waste acid and metal sulfates harmful to the environment. Other paints may contain pigments with harmful environmental effects, and even the raw materials for “natural” pigments may be derived from scarce resources.

Over recent years the domestic paint market has seen a development towards water-based alternatives to common gloss and undercoats. There has been a perceptible shift in demand for environmentally friendly paints, however few manufacturers have gone completely natural and solvent-free. Careful scrutiny of the labels will identify whether a product branded as “eco friendly paint” contains no synthetic materials and help you identify natural ingredients which may actually be harmful to our environment.

Who are Auro?

Auro is a paint company with a difference, confidently claiming that they are the only paint company in the world using exclusively natural materials. Their product range have natural credentials, promote natural health and provide natural performance. Their products contain no synthetic petrochemicals, acrylics or alkyd resins, and the production process is certified as carbon neutral. It is worth noting here that not all Auro’s natural products are 100% odourless or emission-free. However, those suffering with asthma and allergies are more often better able to tolerate the natural and plant based ingredients.

Over recent years, Auro have grown their product family from matt emulsion, gloss and chalk paints, to include varnishes, oils and waxes for floors and wood. Each product has been developed to provide benefits to health and the environment. As an example, even the glossy clear laquer is highly breathable, skin safe, emission free, child and pet safe, vegan friendly and sold within recyclable packaging. Auro publish data sheets for each of their products which includes a full list of ingredients.

Whilst I have not used all products from the Auro range, I have recently used the white premium wall paint and white radiator paint.

Auro 524 Plantodecour Premium Washable Emulsion

I selected the Auro 524 Plantodecour Premium Washable Emulsion as I was keen to use a washable paint within high-traffic areas.  This paint uses an innovative natural plant based binder called  Replebin, only found in Auro products. The paint applied evenly using a roller and there was no detectable lingering odour. Also, I was impressed that the paint was dry in no time, leaving a smooth matt finish.

The full list of benefits include:

  • Very Low VOC, < 1 g/l
  • Highly breathable, SD value: < 0.05 m
  • Applies well on lime
  • Excellent coverage on almost all surfaces that you would apply emulsion paint (i.e. covers both old vinyl paints and new plaster)
  • Almost odourless
  • Vegan
  • Natural & Non Toxic
  • Cruelty Free
  • Crisp white finish that is non-yellowing
  • Matt finish
  • Washable & scrubbable
  • Abrasion Class 1
  • Brush, Roller or spray application
  • Coverage approximately 8-10m² per litre

Drying time: Quick drying 4-6 hours between coats, 48 hours to fully cured
Approx coverage: 2.5 Litre = 22.5m², 5 Litre = 45m², 10 Litre = 90m².

Auro 257 Natural Radiator Paint

When I learned Auro had developed a radiator paint, I was excited to try it, as radiator paint usually has very high VOC content (some over 50%). Auro 257 natural radiator paint is incredibly solvent free whilst also boasting a heat resistance of 70 degrees centigrade. Whilst I prefer my radiators white, I understand it is also possible to tint this radiator paint using Auro gloss paint No. 250 or No. 260 (silk gloss). I applied the paint using a brush and found the paint to be thick and a little tricky to apply at first, however once I got the hang of it, the finished application looks pretty good. (Note: It is possible to thin this product using water which I chose not to do to ensue maximum coverage. It is also possible to spray apply. I did not have the equipment to do so, however I can imagine this would improve the overall finish.) The VOC content is low at 10g/l. Although higher than the Plantodecour emulsion, this is much lower than most radiator paint counterparts which have a VOC content of 499g/l or higher.

The Verdict?

I love both of these paints and will definitely be using them again. Although  more expensive than the standard alternatives, I feel the health and environmental benefits are worth every penny.

Unfortunately, despite having so many positives, both of these paints do include titanium dioxide within their list of ingredients. Although this is classified as a natural ingredient, it remains harmful to the environment when used in paint production.

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