Traditional Paint

The term 'traditional paint' is probably one of the most misused by manufacturers and misunderstood by customers.

A lot of 'traditional paints' are just modern paints in traditional colours, and there is nothing wrong with that, as there are benefits to modern emulsions.
Whereas 'proper' traditional paints are made using natural binders, fillers, earth and mineral pigments.

The crucial thing with limewashes and distempers is their high level of moisture vapour permeability, allowing a building to breathe. This can be very important in older buildings which deal with damp by allowing it breathe out, where modern buildings have damp proofing.

Indeed there are drawbacks to traditional paints which in reality account for why we mostly use modern emulsions on the majority of work. Nonetheless for heritage and restoration work on period properties traditional coatings are often specified and beneficial.


A mixture of chalk, rabbit skin glue, water and earth pigments. A soft distemper is just as the names suggests - soft.
Used on walls in high traffic areas it soon wears and looks tired. But its weakness is also its strength. For ornate plaster moldings on ceilings soft distemper is ideal. A a build up of emulsion paint spoils the definition of the moldings and will be costly to remove - however distemper can simply be washed off.

Oil bound 
Then there are linseed oil bound distempers which are much harder to wash off but don't allow the substrate to breathe as well as soft distempers. Multiple layers of oil bound distemper will inevitably fail and need removing in the fullness of time.

Casein distempers contain milk protein and like oil bound distempers are harder wearing than soft distemper.

Can be used inside and out. For exterior use tallow or casein are added for extra water resistance and durability. Again limewash is ideal for porous substrates, but not on top modern coatings.

Traditional paints have a depth of colour and texture which isn't seen in modern emulsions. They are usually mixed especially for the job as they don't store well.

Call for a free quotation or further information

Please contact Laurie to discuss your decorating requirements or to obtain further information on any of my services. I would be happy to provide you with a free, competitive & no-obligation quotation.

07762 621300