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Trial Newlife acrylic eggshell- a new green paint

Listed under Blog, Eco, paint, suppliers Posted Mar 31 2010

newlife paintsIn this day and age of eco green enviro responsibility, painters are being repeatedly bombarded with new ranges of slickly marketed low VOC, odourless, water soluble, hybrid paint products. I had a chance to trial Newlife acrylic eggshell.

In comparison to the big hitters in the paint industry, Newlife Paints are a minnow, yet in my opinion, their green credentials seem to be the most compelling so far.

How green is green paint?

When it comes to environmentally friendly claims, I am usually a skeptic, because manufacturers conveniently overlook the basic cause of pollution – a business model founded on continually rising levels of mass consumption. So, if Dulux or whoever, bring out a paint with 10% less polluting ingredients, but their marketing power increases consumption by 15%, the planet is still worse off.

However, Newlife Paints definitely caught my attention. They state that 14% of all emulsion paint sold annually is either dumped, incinerated or kept in garages. And they claim to be able to recycle this type of waste paint, and produce emulsion and acrylic eggshell with excellent coverage, good flow properties, durability, breathability, low odour and low VOC.

I am interested in this pragmatic approach, and when Christine at Restoration and Beyond offered to line up a trial of Newlife’s recycled acrylic eggshell, I was doubly interested.

The premise of the trial

I specialise in hand-painted kitchens, and I am an old school painter, who was brought up on good old alkyd oil paint ram jammed full of nasty chemicals. Whether I like it or not, though, water-based paint for woodwork will be the future, but thus far, noone has cracked the issues I have with acrylic eggshell – its sandability and body compared to oil-based eggshell / satin paint. But maybe Newlife had an acrylic eggshell that I would use on hand-painted kitchens and furniture.

Delivery and packaging

Within 7 days of discussing a trial, a 1 litre tin of Newlife recycled paint arrived. The livery on the sample was designed by the owners, who aren’t designers, as such. However, the sticker is quaintly simple and the information about the contents is clear – recycled paint, acrylic eggshell, colour matched to terre de vert.

It looks like the retail tins display everything the customer needs to know.


I have an oak kitchen door that I use for testing. I painted with a synthetic filament brush.

oak test doorOver a section primed with acrylic primer, the Newlife Acrylic eggshell covered completely in 2 coats.

Over a section of a competitor’s water-based eggshell that I sanded to provide a key, it took 3 coats to get the same depth.

I also painted 2 coats over a mid grey Dulux vinyl matt emulsion on lining paper. It covered in 2 coats, a 3rd coat added extra depth.

These results are pretty much as expected from this type of paint, so from a tradesman’s point of view, this is a decent paint to use and no arcane tricks are needed to make it work.

Colour matching

Newlife have 16 stock colours, and they will also colour match to suit. I asked for a match to a Farrow and Ball colour Terre de Vert, which I have painted a piece of furniture with, for a direct side-by-side comparison.

I hesitate to criticise the colour matching at this stage, because the sheen does affect what the eye sees, and as I mention elsewhere, there is an issue with the sheen of this particular sample.

As a suggestion, the Newlife team may want to consult with Patrick Baty who has developed many colour collections and is probably the country’s leading paint colour specialist.


Very nice. Brushed out well, laid off easily. Brushmarks not as pronounced as expected with acrylic eggshell. On the lining paper, it was excellent, especially as I painted next to a hot radiator, and there was no flashing / overlaps. (See the section on “sheen” below to see why it performed so much better than I expected!)


Not sure I can comment on its breathability, as I do not have a microscope.


In terms of adhesion, I left the first coat to dry for 4 hours before applying standard masking tape on the paint. I left it for about half an hour before removing it. The tape was well stuck, came off with a strong tug, and the paint held firm. (Even low tack tape can pull dried paint off, so the Newlife eggshell did adhere well.)

I also have a very non-scientific finger nail scratch test where I scratch across the grain. As an idea, I can’t get a mark on oil-based eggshell, Earthborn aqua eggshell scagged initially but has since hardened off, and Newlife passed the test with no scags at all after drying off for 24 hours.


The Newlife eggshell performed as expected – ie acrylic eggshell has very little filling ability. The oak grain shows through


It has the typical “mayo” smell, which is the norm for the acrylic paints I have used in the past (apart from Earthborn Aqua, which has no smell). In other words, pleasant enough to use and with low VOCs, fairly healthy to live with.


Traditional oil eggshell has about 20% sheen, modern eggshells around 30%. The more sheen, the better for wiping clean. The sample I received seems to have slightly more sheen than the vinyl matt emulsion that I used as a basecoat on the lining paper test. However to the touch it feels like a dead flat matt emulsion.

So, my feeling is that the sample I received isn’t an eggshell finish suitable for wood trim. However, on the plus side, Newlife say they can add as much or as little acrylic to their paint as required, which presumably alters the sheen and suitability of the paint for high traffic trim and woodwork? I would be interested in that.


As far as application and coverage is concerned, I would endorse Newlife’s claim that the quality of their paint is comparable to Dulux, which makes it a good trade quality.

Newlife paints are also a good price at £15.99 for 2.5 litres for colours, or £22 for 5 litres of white or magnolia. For walls and ceilings, I would be happy to use it, if it were specified.

However they need to clarify the sheen issue, because as it stands, I would not be confident about the long term suitability of their acrylic eggshell on woodwork. (Yet again, though, this test confirms to me that no acrylic eggshell, even Newlife, has the body to be a direct substitute for oil paint systems on high class paint work, but that is the nature of the beast, not a criticism of Newlife per se. )

Newlife paint is genuinely eco and green, for the simple and brilliant reason that it is recycled. To my simplistic way of thinking, that means the planet could potentially be 14% better off in terms of paint-related pollution without compromising on the quality of coatings. That sounds like a massive and genuine selling point when the company approaches trade and retail outlets.

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