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Little greene flat oil paint for listed buildings

Listed under Blog, Little Greene, paint, products Posted Aug 13 2011

Patrick Baty of Papers and Paints in Chelsea told me recently about Little Greene flat oil paint. (In simple terms, it is an oil based version of matt emulsion.)

Andy, I don’t know if you are aware that we still sell Little Greene Flat Oil paint. It’s excellent paint. The only problem nowadays is that it may only be used on Grade I or II* listed properties.

I’m afraid that you need to fill out a special form before you can use it. Every tin that we sell has to be accounted for. The legislation is very tight. It seems that most companies have dropped it, but we have so many customers who appreciate its special qualities.

That is the same scenario as when lead paint was phased out for general use. I believe it still applies, that if you work for National Trust, you need special dispensation to use lead paint.

There will obviously come a time when you need special permission to use oil based eggshell. Hopefully I will have retired by then and won’t have to go through that humiliation.


Patrick Baty is a leading consultant on traditional and historic paints. If the property is old and you need to know what colour it was painted, when and with what, he is your man. And like other traditional master craftsmen and experts that I know, he is not blind to the advantages of “modern”, and will specify Dulux contract matt in place of old world products, if and when it is the best product for the job at hand.

Farrow and Ball flat oil

I don’t know if I should mention Little Greene (trade quality) in the same breath as Farrow and Ball (retail quality), but reminiscing…

Back in the day of Farrow and Ball oil based paint, we used a lot of their Flat Oil on older properties. It had a lovely chalky translucent look. Walking in for the first time, you couldn’t quite put your finger on why the walls looked so classy, but they did. And as long as you only looked and didn’t touch, they stayed looking good too.

It was quite tricky to apply by brush, especially on a hall, stairs and landing, so we would often be 3 frantic painters brushing for all we were worth with our 4″ Hamilton Perfections, to keep a wet edge going. On one occasion, a poor apprentice was left on their own to “just paint a wall in”. When it dried out, it looked like a spiders web – testament to a wet edge that never quite made the grade.

Flat Oil was no different to most Farrow and Ball products – it needed 3 good coats of the same colour to cover optimally. They still haven’t cracked their coverage issues in water based land. The official specification for Estate and Modern emulsion is a tinted wall primer before 2 topcoats. Mad.



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