Keim paint in UK
2 years ago, Paints and Interiors laid the groundwork to be the first “trading partner” and stockist of Keim paint in the UK.
Keim who? Keim Mineral Paints.
Here is a bit of background and then an interview to get down to the nitty gritty of what mineral paint is, cost, durability etc. I think you will be surprised at what you learn about this “exotic” product line, especially interior paint. I know I was.
A summary of Keim paint in UK – interior and exterior
The exterior mineral paints are beyond high performance if applied correctly;
the user-friendly credentials are quite something for their matt interior mineral wall paint;
and colours are still mixed by hand!
Interview with Keim in the UK
I have asked Paints and Interiors owner Ben Sturges, a member of the Traditional Painter Trade Corner, to explain a little bit about Keim. Let’s face it, Keim is one of those names that is massive and household famous in Europe, a bit like Classidur, but pretty much under the radar for most in the UK.
Who are Keim, where are they based, when did they start?
Keim was founded in 1878 by Adolf Wilhelm Keim who was looking to replicate lime fresco finishes in a harder wearing material. Using Potassium silicate as a binder and natural mineral pigments, Adolf Keim created the first silicate paint.
They are based in Germany and have a UK distribution arm in Telford.
That was the easy question over. In simple terms can you explain what mineral paints are and how they work?
In basic terms the potassium silicate or water glass solution penetrates the mineral substrate and chemically reacts with it, forming a tight micro crystalline structure, so it actually becomes part of the structure of its mineral base not a coating on top.
Mineral paint allows free passage of water vapour through it. It has an sd value of less than 0.01 – sd values indicate the amount of vapour permeability something has. The lower the amount, the less interrupted the passages of vapour, so the more ‘breathable it is. So it becomes part of the substrate, whilst keeping water molecules ie rain, out. But despite having full breathability, it behaves like a masonry covering.
As Keim paints are absorbed by the substrate, they do not form a ‘skin’ like a film forming paint so therefore cannot flake or peel off.
What is the Keim product for exterior masonry? And can you paint it over existing masonry paint?
Keim have a number of products for exterior masonry – Granital, Concretal, Royalan, Soldalit ME and Soldalit. I am not that familiar with Granital or Concretal (although they are essentially made up of the same things), and have more knowledge of the Royalans and Soldalits. They differ in a number of ways.
Royalan exterior paint for coastal areas & inner cities
This is a slightly higher spec finish to the Soldalits. It is more suitable for areas of harsher weather conditions – exposed coastal areas, areas of increased RH – e.g. hotter countries and inner city areas where dirt is more of an issue. I only specify this on areas in Norfolk and Suffolk next to the sea – e.g.: Southwold, or used as a coating for an external plinth round a house, or for example a wall next to a busy road.
To paint Royalan over existing masonry coatings
Royalan requires ** a bridging coat called Royalan Grob mixed with a dilution coat (fixative/stabilising solution) as a first coat, to allow it to successfully bond to a pre painted substrate. This is followed by 1 finishing coat of Royalan.
To paint Royalan over lime based surfaces
It requires a fixative solution as a first coat on to porous surfaces like lime, followed by a slightly diluted coat (with fixative/stabilising solution), and followed by 1 full coat.
Soldalit/Soldalit ME: exterior standard silicate paint.
This can go directly onto existing paintwork straight from the tin and requires just 2 coats.
Onto new lime you need a first coat of fixative/stabilising solution to equalise the porosity of the surface and bind the surface – followed by 2 full coats.
Soldalits are very user friendly
Soldalit ME has the added benefit of containing the optimum amount of Titanium Dioxide to enable it to absorb off gases and pollutants and transforms them into harmless gases! How it does that I do not know, but it does and it is a basic chemical reaction!!
An illustration of the breathable and protective nature of Keim paints
What is the Keim mineral paint for indoor use? In terms of performance, why would you use it indoors instead of say breathable contract matt, or eco Earthborn?
For interior use Keim have Ecosil ME and Optil.
This behaves more like a standard paint and can go straight over existing paintwork.
This requires a bridging coat onto existing paintwork.
Over new lime or porous surfaces
– Both require a fixative coat when applied to new lime or porous surfaces.
– Ecosil has the same titanium dioxide levels in it as the Soldlait ME and absorbs nasty gases.
– Ecosil is also a slightly more durable finish than the Optil, but has a slightly limited colour range.
Keim mineral paints will not peel and have top eco credentials
– Keim internal and external paints chemically bond to the substrate, so do not flake or peel.
– They are completely matt
– They have no VOCs
– They are made of natural materials.
You cannot really compare it to a contract Matt as it is not a petro chemical base. It is similar to Earthborn due to its eco credentials, but again is a silicate so a different beast!
Million dollar question. Keim flourish in Europe where the cost of a product is not top of the purchase decision list. Consumers buy on value, and if best value means a high upfront cost, so be it. UK is price driven, and anecdotally, Keim have a reputation for being horrendously expensive products. Can you bust any myths here? Over new render, what is the material cost per m2 of Keim paint v a good pliolite?
Like all things the shelf price is not the total cost of something.
Price per litre
Where Keim is considered an expensive product is for their exterior masonry paints which start at around £17/litre and go up to £27 for very strong colours.
Keim interior grade paints by contrast go from £6.55 to just over £9/litre so really very reasonable – if not cheap in my eyes.
Lifetime costs v “normal paint”
Where the cost is irrelevant is in the longevity of the product. In some cases there are buildings in Germany painted over 100 years ago, which still have their original coat of paint on! Even if you said that the life span of Keim was at least 2-3 times that of a good quality masonry paint (it is clearly way more!), the cost, once you have taken labour and things like scaffold costs into account, would be less.
Admittedly 5kgs of paint (they measure exterior grade paints in kgs – 5kgs is around 3.5L) covers approx. 22m2 per coat it works out about 3 1/2 x the cost of Masonry paint. However if it lasts 3 times as long, the labour saving costs are huge .
Lifetime costs v “limewash”
Onto lime render, the material cost is about 3 – 4 times the cost of a lime wash.
But lime wash needs 5 coats in some cases and spraying down between each coat, it also needs maintaining every 2 – 3 years. So comparing the labour coast associated with lime wash – Keim is cheaper after the 3rd year.
Lime wash also fails to protect lime work at all, so cannot prevent substrate damage. Keim protects like a masonry paint but breathes like a lime wash.
And on interiors, is Keim mineral paint financially viable eco-friendly wall paint on bare plaster, compared to say Earthborn?
The upfront costs of interior grade Keim paints Optil and Ecosil work out slightly cheaper than most brands of paint, but will last about three times longer.
Keim interior paint v Earthborn
– Keim products will not flake or peel
– Mineral pigments resist the effects of UV so colours will not fade.
– It is more breathable than Earthborn paints (0.02)
– Optil can come in almost any colour.
It is in my opinion a better product and easier to use than Earthborn paints, and the lower sd value of Keim means it is a better product where maximum breathability is required.
I have kept this question till last, because I am really curious about the colours – You have your own colour card, I believe. Why do you mix colours by hand? What happened to photo-spectrometers and pinpoint accurate tinting machines?
I am working alongside Keim to produce my own colour card.
making sense of colours
The colour card is partly down to vanity – it is nice to have your own colours! but also the Keim palette is 300-400 +. In my view too many, and for Keim to appeal a bit more to the domestic market the colour card should be easier to look at and therefore smaller. I have broken it down to 50, including colours which are a bit more relevant in todays’ marketplace – hopefully making Keim more relevant too!
It is still very much in development at the moment, as these things take a while to do, but hopefully i will have something finished in the not too distant future.
Each tin of Keim paint is individually mixed
Although they do not ‘mix’ by hand they mix each tin individually. They weigh the minerals individually and produce one order at a time! They do have a Spectro for colour matching, but they have to work to a tolerance of 3% because of the mineral pigments used.
Every Keim product has its own special formula making mechanised tinting almost impossible. This is the way they have always done it and I guess if it aint broke….
They have a colour consultant who travels round the country with pigments in the back of her van and can match by eye and mix to order for special projects! That is service for you.
How would you summarise Keim and their product line?
As a company to deal with, Keim are second to none – they are efficient, helpful and knowledgeable. We need to use more of this paint. As an environmentally friendly product it has it all – no VOC’s, mineral pigments, natural potassium silicate binder, no solvents and no petro chemicals. They even recycle their waste paint which they filter through water and effectively turn into natural clays.
Thanks Ben for a really full explanation of the company and their core product line. There is a misconception that Keim is a heritage type product, for churches and buildings of “importance”, and not for the common man, so to speak! That is obviously not at all accurate.
At £35 a gallon for such a high specification wall paint, that makes Keim of interest to anyone who paints, I would think. And with the costs explained for the exterior paints, hopefully the value of such a proven product will be a lot clearer now.
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