MADE IN BRITAIN: Linseed paint manufacturing returns to the UK from Denmark

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After a business that produces traditional paints using linseed oil made from Yorkshire-grown flax sees orders increase, the manufacturing of the paint is returning to Yorkshire for the first time in a century.

Brouns & Co which produces the linseed paint and has been growing in popularity as an environmentally sustainable alternative to plastic-based coatings, is being brought back to be made in the UK.

The company which is run by building conservationist Michiel Brouns has now moved its entire production process from Denmark to Elmet near Leeds, UK.

According to the company, Linseed paint was last produced in Yorkshire at the end of the 19th century “when large crops of flax were grown for their stems, the main component of linen and canvas production. Flax mills would also use the flax seeds to produce linseed oil and paint.”

Mr Brouns explains: “Linseed paint is a centuries-old, natural way to protect timber from exposure to the elements, which is both sustainable and durable.”

Whereas modern paints are made from plastics, which are tinted with synthetic pigments and then filled with drying agents, linseed paint is made in the traditional way by grinding powder pigments into boiled linseed oil to make a paste using triple-roller mills, then adding more oil until the correct consistency is reached. Absolutely nothing else is added to Brouns & Co’s exterior paint, and only a very minimal drying agent is added to the interior version.

Brouns & Co linseed paint is made from all-natural ingredients, with no plastics or VOCs.

The paint’s main ingredient is the oil grown from UK flaxseed which is then pressed in Collingham. It is triple-milled, with ground natural pigments, at the Sherburn plant using a higher-tech version of centuries-old methods of manufacturing linseed paint.

Using his expertise in the preservation of historic buildings to establish the Brouns & Co brand, Mr Brouns said:

“I knew about linseed paint and its incredible properties which can protect timber-built properties for hundreds of years and seen how it had been usurped by modern plastic paint  which is not only not as effective as linseed paint but has now also been identified as the largest source of microplastics in the seas.

“Linseed is the ideal coating for timber because it doesn’t form a film on top of the timber, allows water to escape again and helps to preserve the wood. And now that we have brought the entire process to Yorkshire, from growing the flax to producing and packaging the paint, the sustainability of the product is even better.”

“Although demand for our products in the US is now escalating, and we are becoming the paint of choice for maintaining growing numbers of the timber new-build and historic properties over there, many of our customers are based in the north of England and we are always conscious of the carbon footprint of our products.”

As well as being the favoured choice of many architects’ practices all over the world and with a high-profile client list including Chatsworth House, the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate, and Channel 4’s Grand Designs team, Brouns & Co is also winning new orders for its unique natural paints from the US, where, in regions such as New England, the maintenance of historic wooden buildings is a major conservation issue.

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