Top Ten Reasons To Paint Your Garden Shed With Linseed Oil Paint

Okay, I'm biased. I love linseed oil paint and now use it in the house for all our woodwork. And where I didn't use it (because I hadn't known about linseed oil paint then) I wish I had! Linseed oil paint is the best paint for timber windows and doors, and it really shows its strength when you use it outside: it's the perfect paint for timber log cabins and wooden sheds.

Log cabin painted with linseed oil paint

So what makes linseed oil paint such a fantastic paint?  

  1. It's natural. No petrochemical products, no solvents. Just linseed oil and pigment.* 
  2. It's a pleasure to work with - no strong smells, and as long as you apply it thinly, there isn't much you can get wrong.
  3. No white spirit or solvent-based brush cleaner needed - simply wash out used brushes with linseed soap.
  4. It's economical - for outdoor painting, mix it with 50 per cent raw linseed oil and get a great result with just one coat of paint. 
  5. There's usually no need for a primer, unless the wood is very 'hungry'. You can simply prime with linseed oil. 
  6. It covers well - I painted my garden log cabin with one coat of thinned paint. A bit of touching up after a couple of days was all it needed.
  7. It lets the wood breathe - protecting it against water, but letting internal moisture evaporate. Apparently, it even has a 'wicking effect': drawing moisture out like the wick of a candle. 
  8. The quality of the colour shades is superb. The paint soaks into the timber, rather than sitting on top, which really gives a deep colour tone. 
  9. Linseed paint will never flake or crack. No need to strip or sand before re-painting.
  10. It lasts a very long time. It will get more matt over time. I'm told seven-year cycles are no problem. Some suppliers claim you'll never need to repaint unless you want to change colour. I've got a few windows where the linseed oil paint covering is coming up to six years old and there's been no need to re-paint. To refresh the paint, you can simply oil the wood with linseed oil. Or go over it with more linseed oil paint.
*some manufacturers include a small amount of drying agent for indoor versions of the paint, and/or a small amount of zinc oxide.

NB. what you should also know about painting with linseed oil paint: 

  • You need a few warm, dry days for best results
  • If you get it on too thickly, it will pool, wrinkle and stay soft for quite a while
  • Light shades (especially whites) will darken in areas with little light, eg. behind cupboards
  • Linseed oil paint may need longer to dry than solvent-based paint, but drying time depends a lot on the weather and on how many layers you're painting.
  • Spot-patching linseed oil paint may make it look a little patchy if you only use one coat, as there will be more oil where you patched.
  • Every additional coat of linseed oil paint takes longer to dry than the previous one.
Log cabin painted in linseed oil paint - the shade of paint is called 'cast iron'

So where can you buy linseed oil paint? 

I've been using Ottoson Linseed oil paint. They're manufactured in Sweden and sold in the UK by Oricalcum. The products are top notch: Oricalcum linseed oil paint - About.

Another Swedish manufacturer is Allback, and you can get it from the Old House Store.

Then there's this company, which I haven't tried. So if you do, I'd love to hear how you found it: Linseed paint company.

More on linseed oil paint: 

Ottoson linseed paint YouTube channel - mostly in Swedish

Watch this video and you'll want to get painting straight away (Painting windows with Linseed Oil Paint):

And here are some more pictures of the painted log cabin sauna:

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