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All Hail The Little Greene Paint Company

Listed under Blog, Little Greene, paint, suppliers Posted Jun 02 2014

This post was written in 2010 but May 2012 still holds true. May 2014, main text unchanged. Little Greene paint still performing and sourced from Paints and Interiors. Oil eggshell enamel from Tikkurila continues to prove super tough and low sheen. Farrow and Ball Estate eggshell still a lovely finish, some technical shortcomings on specifications for kitchen refurbishment work. Use of oil-based satinwood on furniture – really!

Little Greene Paint Co


The king is dead, long live the king. I am not referring to the passing of a royal sovereign, but rather the end of my involvement with one traditional paint dynasty, Farrow and Ball, and the beginning of a new relationship with The Little Greene Paint Company.

So why the jumping of ships? I am an old school painter, and my speciality is hand-painted kitchens and furniture. I rely on (and trust) traditional oil paint that comes in a range of traditional heritage colours. The 3 main olde worlde traditional paint suppliers are F&B, The Little Greene Paint Company and Paint Library. For many years, Farrow and Ball has had the highest profile of this group, and has long been my supplier of choice – till now.

Times are a-changing at Farrow and Ball

Over the past year, F&B, assured me several times that despite their move to be good eco citizens, they would continue to offer their traditional paint range in oil, albeit as a niche product. So I kept with the company. That will teach me. Their interior oil eggshell was withdrawn in the New Year, so rather than give in, I moved to their exterior oil eggshell, which as far as I can tell has the same sheen, but is breathable ie same look as the interior oil eggshell of yesteryear. I was happy. But then, in the last few weeks, F&B announce that they no longer offer oil paint of any description. And to rub salt in the wound, they claim there is no difference between their hybrid paint and the traditional oil paint.

In defence of F&B, the whole paint industry has been dealing with ever-tightening environmental regulations, and most oil paints have gradually been modified (made more eco) to meet the low VOC (aka pollution) targets. Despite the tinkering chemists and BS marketeers, to all intents and purposes, oil eggshell from traditional to modern paint suppliers can still deliver what you would expect – body, sandability and flow – with a lot less solvent than of old. A win-win.

However, for some reason best known to themselves, Farrow and Ball, bastions of all that is traditional, have been developing some new fangled hybrid paint, claiming it offers a seamless substitute for their oil paint. Please! Call me old fashioned and unwilling to embrace new technology, but I have tried most water-based trim paints, and not even the Americans with their long history of using acrylic for everything, can formulate water based “enamels” to match oil paint applied by brush. (Getting very very close though)

Sad painter

Truth be told, I actually felt quite depressed, like when you feel you have lost some control over the direction of your life. There have been a couple of worrying paint trends that have steadily been undermining good old fashioned craftsmanship as I know it and Farrow and Ball, champions of much of what I believe in as a craftsman, seemed to have joined the “lowest common denominator” conspiracy, mwahahahaha – a long-standing global move away from oil over to water-borne / acrylic paint, a fixation on health and safety and dropping standards the accepted norm. But I digress.

As far as I am concerned, Farrow and Ball are taking the mick, saying that a traditional painter can expect the same quality finish from their new fangled paint formula. It is not totally dire, I have achieved a great finish laying off Estate Eggshell with a Wooster Ultra Pro Soft, under scrutiny, is it the same as oil? Not yet.

Kitchens painted with traditional oil-based eggshell look so cool, wear so well, and the subtle brush finish is the mark of a painters skill. Maybe the “F&B look” is not dependent on oil content, but high end water-borne finishes require a different set of skills, and a premium quality synthetic bristle brush – or in the ideal world, a good spray technique, which is great for those modernists who want a perfect laminate paint look in a characterful kitchen, but not for those seeking a hand-painted beauty.

Little Greene Paint at Broken Cross

Luckily, the world got better for me when I voiced my concerns about Farrow And Ball’s “traditional water based hybrid” to Mark at Broken Cross Paints, one of the best little independent decorator’s merchant in the western world. He saw Farrow and Ball’s change of emphasis coming a long time ago and has been promoting the more true-to-the-ideals-of-tradition, Little Greene Paint Co.

Another high end painter walked in the store and joined in on Mark’s deconstruction of F&B and added to the eulogies about The Little Greene Paint Company who have stuck with low odor oil-based “eco” eggshell in traditional colours. And when you dig deeper, the oil eggshell boasts a very durable finish, being suitable for interior AND exterior use, and comes with a better colour range than Farrow And Ball with a large selection of English Heritage colours

And from a convenience point of view, the Little Green Paint co deliver next day, another thing F&B have stopped doing in the name of progress.

All’s well that ends well

Hand-painted kitchen - Little Greene Paint - Sand PiperSo, this old school painter has jumped ship from discontinued F&B oil eggshell to Little Greene oil eggshell, happily.

The Heritage paint arrives as promised, the colours are beautiful, deep and subtle. And it goes on a treat. Sanding, body, workability, drying times, fumes, all were really good, really traditional. I was converted, and it is still rated most highly for hand painted kitchens!

Long live The Little Greene Paint Company.

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32 comments to “All Hail The Little Greene Paint Company”

  1. JGDecorator

    @acmasterpainter Hi Andy. Interesting blog. They thing Ive found is clients expecting the same finish from wb paints.

  2. acmasterpainter

    @JGDecorator hey JG, still busy? Interesting, have you ever seen a waterbased finish that could have been oil? Im still looking!

  3. JGDecorator

    @acmasterpainter Yeah Andy real busily. lots of exterior projects. W/b seems to show brush marks more than oil. I put it down to me using..

  4. JGDecorator

    @acmasterpainter synthetic brunches like #purdy. I know they have some design with w/b paints in mind. Have to try them. You been buisy?

  5. acmasterpainter

    @JGDecorator i have been snowed under, glad to have a rest now and recoup. Floetrol reduces brushmarks a bit in wb, but spray is optimal

  6. JGDecorator

    @acmasterpainter What’s Floetol?

  7. acmasterpainter

    @JGDecorator floetrol is a paint conditioner that increases flow & keeps the wet edge open longer. It is the wb version of owatrol for oil

  8. JGDecorator

    @acmasterpainter Thanks Andy. Will look into using it

  9. acmasterpainter

    Hello all from a bad tweet painter of late. Been away a lot and PC-free. Major changes too. adios Farrow and Ball https://traditionalpainter.com/all-hail-t

  10. webchicboutique

    @acmasterpainter interesting article about F&B

  11. acmasterpainter

    @webchicboutique thanks.


    I am painting onto bare wood with Little Greene
    oil based eggshell i have the primer too , my question is can I dilute the first coat of primer with white spirit
    and apply second coat un-diluted and finish with 1 coat of eggshell?Its the first time I am using this paint so any advise will be appreciated.

  13. Alison

    I would like to concur about the quality of Little Greene paints. As previous F & B users (amateur DIY painters) we thought we would try Little Greene instead. It goes on beautifully, no splatter when using a roller, only takes 2 coats (compared to F & B 3) and the colours are beautiful, a lovely matt finish, and like F & B the quality of the colour is different in various lights. In particular Juniper Ash is a stunning colour. We will not go back to F & B as the colours, ease of application and finish of Little Greene are definitely superior. I just wish that their website was better, I like the F & B website where people can leave comments on the different paints, so Little Greene is a little uninspiring that way.

  14. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    That’s an interesting perspective, thanks.

  15. sara john

    Hi,I am a retired kitchen painter but have just done a new built front door for a friend in Little Greene gloss. used Aluminium primer followed by Grey primer and two coats of gloss. (Patent knotting solution on knots). Change of colour, so cut back and put new colour on at 9.30 on a warm,dry day.Blistering has occurred,(it did get pretty hot later in the day)and door faces South but was only in sun on hinged edge. Cant think of anything I have done wrong but hope you may have a magic tip tp prevent this again if I rub down and re-paint. Needs at least one more coat anyway.

  16. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    No pressure to wave a wand 🙂

    All I can think is that if it has only lifted the last layer of paint in an isolated patch, that you hadn’t got past the dew point ie 9.30 still a bit early, and you trapped some moisture, which then lifted the gloss as it got warmer later on. Leave it later to repaint.

    If it hasn’t blistered all over : the new gloss paint won’t have cured, still very soft, so you may be able to fernagle the edges with white spirit possibly to blend the edges in. Fine surface fill, touch in and recoat?

    If it has blistered to the base, that is a different job. The moisture in the door has hit the barrier of ally primer.

    Back in the day, I had that issue on a new Howdens type hardwood door south facing, it was a bad do, painter gets the blame for everything! Ended up stripping it back and microporous staining it. It has probably got the right amount of moisture in it now for painting to a number 10 finish!

  17. sara john

    Thanks for response. As far as I can see it is a resin problem. The door is made by a reliable carpenter but is in full sunlight for most of the morning which is why I used the ally primer and knotting. Have cut back in relevant places, re knotted and u-coated. We are going to leave it a few days to see what else bleeds through so may get back to you. Had a similar problem with a South facing really old door a few years ago. Thank goodness I only do this sort of work for friends!

  18. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Moisture or … resin. Oh 🙁 Keep us posted, let’s hope it isn’t a never-ending font.

  19. susan

    Have you used Little Greene floor paint? I am thinking of painting our concrete floor and wondered….

  20. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    The first thing to address is expectations. Light to medium traffic floor paint is relatively inexpensive, but it will need maintenance if you put a car over it daily, say every 6 months, touch up. A heavy duty fit and forget floor paint is about 3 times the price upfront, but is more like a fit and forget and clean periodically deal.

    LG floor paint for well prepared wood and concrete floors certainly is a viable product. It is designed for interior use and light traffic, so it is very OK for foot traffic. It is also fine with daily use of a car, but would need touching up say every 6 months.

    At the other end of the spectrum, there is a 2 pack epoxy called EW99 which is factory standard, long lasting, more of a fit and forget (and occasional clean) product. It is water based and is a more expensive upfront cost but over time you see the rewards in less maintenance. From paints and Interiors, talk to Ben, for 4.5 litres it is £95+VAT + £11 delivery. Coverage is 12m2/litre

    As another perspective to illustrate different quality (and price) floor paint for different needs on floors, for about £30+VAT for 5l, Holmans (who can match an equivalent of any colour) do Rustoleum concrete floor paint for light traffic http://holmanpaints.co.uk/products/20-floor-coating-7100.html and for £80+VAT for 5 litres a water based epoxy paint http://holmanpaints.co.uk/products/121-epoxyshield-maxx-.html for heavy traffic.

    In all cases, it is not recommended to apply these products on smooth/dense concrete or concrete containing a curing compound, as this will prevent adhesion. The EW99 can however be pre -etched using a product called Bradite TA 37 etching primer. Preparation is key, you must remove all contaminants.

    It may all sound a bit too technical, it is in respect of picking the right paint and system, but once you have the paint and you get on with it, the products roll on and as long as you don’t paint yourself into a corner, it is fairly straightforward graft.

  21. Sheelagh Bartlett

    Hi master painter,
    Just found ur thread and wondered if u wouldn’t mind giving some advice?
    We have an old front door ( 1930’s with stained glass) which is needing some attention. Thinking of using little Greene on ur advice.
    It gets a lot of weather- sun all morning and the winters here in Glasgow can be pretty tough ( lots and lots of rain too!).
    Would you always advise the oil system or is the wb from lg ok too? Looking at the exterior eggshell. If using the oil would their primer plus oil costs suffice or is their another step id need to consider?
    I’m a reasonable amateur with the paint brush.
    Thanks so much

  22. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi Sheelagh,

    some good questions. As a rule of thumb, to help with deciding which direction to go:

    – the higher the sheen, the more resilient the finish will be against the rain and dirt.

    – in general, oil based gloss will lose its sheen and reduce to semi gloss or less after a hard season or two. Acrylic will stay as it started.

    – Acrylic paint will be more flexible than the oil base equivalent, but if it is applied over an existing oil based finish, that flexibility is a moot point really.

    – Oil based is harder to apply than acrylic except when it isn’t! i.e. both types of paint have their challenges.

    What is the condition of the current paint work?

    I suspect it is currently oil based and has varying degrees of cracked joints and maybe some chipping?

    If it is in poor condition, best to go back to bare wood. Then you can seal knots with shellac knotting and use an oil based primer like Coverstain plus an oil or waterbased system on top and get the best benefits of either system.

    If the current (oil gloss) surface just needs sanding, then if you are confident, stay with oil.

    For an oil based gloss finish prepare and apply an oil based undercoat plus oil based gloss

    For an oil based eggshell finish, prepare and apply oil eggshell paint only, no undercoat required.

    Is that any help?

  23. Sheelagh Bartlett

    Sorry should have said oil coats!

  24. Jo

    Any thoughts on leylands floor paint or would Little Green be your preference for hall / stairs / living room and bedrooms

  25. James

    Has anybody used Little Greene masonry paint? I can’t seem to find any reviews but it comes with the usual 15 year lasting claim. If it’s anything like their emulsion and gloss, it should be good….

  26. Tourmaline

    Kitchen Units: The laminate has come off most of the units, leaving a smooth, hard mdf finish. I plan on using Classidur primer, but I’m confused about whether to use Traditional Oil Eggshell Paint or Intelligent Eggshell Paint. Also, what’s the best brush to use.

  27. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    With the Classidur Extrem, apply a solid coat, and when dried thoroguhly, sand smooth, which should provide a good surface on which to apply the topcoats.

    Acrylic eggshell will be more straightforward to apply than oil, especially with a drop of FLoetrol conditioner.

    Belt and braces here, because you may have glues still in the surface, you should be aware though that sometimes waterbased topcoats can draw stains through a primer coat (oil or waterbased primer!) so make sure the Extrem is thoroughly dry before any coats on top. And before acrylic eggshell painting the whole kitchen, you should test an area to make sure nothing unexpected appears through the primer.

    An oil eggshell would not run this small risk, but you may find it harder to apply.

    A Fox paint brush would be fine for any or all of the 3 paints mentioned.

  28. Elaine Williams

    Hi, I’ve been using your website as a fantastic resource for a few years now – amazing!

    We’re about to start painting our stairs/landing…and more than likely skirting and doors to match in a dark moody grey. Obviously to get that colour match I’m keen to stick within the one brand and absolutely love LG Intelligent eggshell (to the point I can’t imagine doing trim with anything else!) how would you rate the LG floor paint? I see much more about FB floor paint…but want to avoid their eggshell!


  29. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    The floor paint works well.

  30. DaisyA

    @Alison – many thanks for already answering the questions I was about to ask :), namely whether the Little Greene paint is well-pigmented and if it changes in different lights. Glad to have a yes to both of those.
    Will ring Little Greene tomorrow but does anyone out there who has used these paints already have any insight into which colour might best replace or complement F&B’s Lime White Oil Eggshell for interior wood? Think Lime White is in the archive now but painters may remember it – a flat white with a subtle hint of green Thanks!

  31. John

    Hi there.. just came across this blog when looking up little and greene paints.. now then my question is not actually to do with them.. I moved into a housing association flat around 6 months ago.. turns out the place had been fire damaged and very badly repaired. Ceilings were just emulsioned over many times. I’m now in the process of trying to put this right. I had a stab at the front room and noticed when I was steaming off the old wallpaper brown muck just streaming off the ceiling. Utterly revolting. Now being a complete novice I thought “well if the steaming gets it out let’s carry on steaming” well it did get rid of a lot but 2 months down the line much has started to bleach through Ito the fresh paintwork. Would a coat of oil based undercoat fix this? I was told by an old decorator in the social club that this is what they used to do in pubs nd clubs back in the day to cover the nicotine and it seals it all in. Iv seen zinnser sealant paint but it is extremely expensive and unfortunately I’m on a low income so that really isn’t an option for me. I have the rest of the rooms in a 1 bed flat to do so was hoping The old decorator is right. If not I’m stuck looking like an 80 a day smoker! ? Thank you very much..

  32. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Enlightened councils used to use Classidur paint to deal with nicotine and fire damage. 2 coats and solved. It seals in the stains and the odours. It seems your approach has not worked, and whilst I realise plenty of old boys swear by oil based undercoat, it is a bit of lucky shot rather than proper science.

    Smoking costs more than lives hey!

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