How to decorate Breathaplasta for a naturally healthy plaster finish

How do I decorate Breathaplasta?

This is one of the most common questions that we are asked on a weekly basis, so we thought we’d shine a light on it by answering your queries in a short blog post. Read on for paint-based enlightenment.

What textured finishes can I achieve with Breathaplasta?

Breathaplasta is a lime plaster with super-fine hemp particles within the mix and this allows for a whole range of finishes to be achieved. It can be troweled to a smooth finish with standard plastering techniques (see our ‘how-to’ videos on YouTube by clicking here) or the fine flecks of hemp can be brought to the surface by using a sponge float and a range of attractive textured finishes can be achieved.  It is a versatile product that can be conventional or creative to suit your design needs.

How do I preserve the natural finish?

The natural finish of Breathaplasta is very attractive as it dries to a pale cream colour and one of our most frequent questions is whether the plaster can be left undecorated. The simple answer is yes and we’ve numerous projects where the natural finish was most desired and the plaster left untreated. This can additionally save on the costs on painting the surface and ensures that it remains ultra-breathable (vapour diffusion-open). However, an untreated surface that’s not been sealed is prone to ‘off-dusting’ – a harmless fine chalky dust that’s generated over time, especially if the finished plaster is in areas of high wear and tear. To prevent this, we recommend the use of a clear lacquer or varnish for a slightly more gloss appearance or a clear, diluted plaster primer solution for a more matte finish. These will best preserve the natural colour and finish of Breathaplasta whilst sealing the surface. Speak to one of the team for product recommendations that are natural, non-toxic and ultra-breathable.

Can I paint the surface?

Absolutely, you can paint the surface. Breathaplasta is compatible with all mainstream brands of internal decorating paints and you can treat a wall plastered with Breathaplasta as you would any other internal wall plaster product. If you have any concerns or want guidance on application, consult the specific paint manufacturer or speak to one of our team.

Should I use special paints?

Breathaplasta is an ultra-breathable lime plaster that has a highly vapour diffusion-open structure – in simple terms this means that moisture can freely pass through the material. This is also important for another performance aspect to Breathaplasta, its condensation control; the ability of Breathaplasta to naturally regulate humidity within a room. This extends to the paints that you use to decorate. To maximise the performance of the ‘lungs’ within Breathaplasta it’s important to use paints that preserve this breathability and do not ‘clog up’ the surface. Most mainstream emulsion paints have a degree of breathability with vinyl paints being the least breathable choice. The major downside to mainstream paints is that their chemical formulation can lead to the off gassing of toxic compounds that can be bad for your health and the health of your family.

Natural paints are a better choice for improved indoor air quality and a healthier living environment.

Why should people choose to use natural paint?

There are many reasons why natural paints are a better option and why people should be choosing to decorate with them. Natural paint ingredients such as plant oils, tree resins, earths and minerals have been in use for millennia and their chemical make-up means that they are much less toxic to human health than modern synthetic chemical paints. This is important given we spend up to 90% of our time indoors.

Natural paints are highly-breathable and allow for the movement of moisture through them which in turn allow the walls to breathe and prevents moisture from getting trapped within the walls which can lead to mould and rot causing damage to the fabric of the building.

Some mainstream chemical paints are non-breathable and do not allow movement of moisture. Painting your wall with these is like applying a layer of plastic to your wall – imagine running a marathon with a plastic coat on, all the moisture from sweating would be trapped inside and would make you feel very uncomfortable, not to mention…damp! Now imagine running that marathon with a highly breathable material that allows the moisture to wick away from your body and evaporate – much more pleasant and much healthier. We all wear high performance, breathable sportswear, but we don’t apply the same logic to our family homes.

What’s wrong with mainstream paints?

Paints have been used for thousands of years and it is only in the last century that they have been supplied by chemical companies using the by-products of oil refining. We’ve moved away from plant oils, tree resins, earths and minerals to petrochemical based paints that have become the mainstream option most readily available in our shops.

But petrochemical paints have a lot of ‘nasties’ in them, including formaldehyde, ammonium, titanium dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many of these can cause respiratory and neurological problems, skin irritation and have even been linked to causing cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies chemicals as carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic or possibly carcinogenic. VOCs appear in all three categories.

Even with limits in place on the level of harmful chemicals paints can contain, many mainstream formulations can aggravate allergies, trigger asthma and cause headaches and dizziness – and yet we still choose to paint our children’s bedrooms with these chemical paints.

Asthma UK, a leading research and education charity lists decorating paints as one of the leading asthma triggers in the home.

What are natural paints made from?

Natural paints are made from natural ingredients – it’s all in the name! The term covers paints made from natural binders, pigments and solvents and includes clay paints, chalk paints and milk paints (casein). Solvents can be derived from citrus fruits and pigments and binders can be clay, chalk, plant material and plant oils. Although terms like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are less regulated than the food industry, most natural paint companies take a more responsible approach to production and produce non-toxic paints in a significantly less harmful way than the mainstream chemical paint companies.

What is the difference in cost?   

Natural paints tend to be the same price as premium paints and a little more expensive than mass market mainstream paints and own brand products. Coverage tends to be quite similar and they are usually just as easy to apply, however, drying times can take a little longer as natural paints tend to omit chemicals that speed up the drying process.


Breathaplasta is a very versatile product that offers a range of natural finishes from smooth to textured to super-textured applications for feature walls. The plaster dries to an attractive pale cream colour that’s highly desirable and can be left untreated. For a more complete look and to prevent off-dusting, seal the surface of the plaster with clear natural sealants. This best preserves the colour, texture and appearance of the natural plaster finish.

Painting Breathaplasta is the most common form of decoration and a whole world of paints awaits! You can paint Breathaplasta with any paint, but the use of many mainstream paints can lead to off gassing of toxic compounds that are unhealthy for you and your family and can contribute to poor indoor air quality with effects ranging from itchy or watery eyes, difficulty breathing, dizziness, itchy skin and a variety of other ailments as well as potential for serious health problems with prolonged exposure.

To get the best possible air quality in your home and to maximise breathability, use natural and organic paints. There are many good quality suppliers and their products offer superior breathability, are a much healthier and safer choice for you and your family and are often produced in a more environmentally conscious way.

To find out more you can visit the Ethical Consumer website by following this link.

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