Companies are now realising that parents want safe paint for their children’s rooms. Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall reports. 

The Nursery Paint Company’s paints are derived from soya beans and are VOC-free

Being a new parent is a wonderful time in anyone’s life, but it also brings a new level of concern as you try to create the safest environment for your child.

At a time when nesting instincts are highest, and a decorating frenzy likely, these niggles can cause people to question the paint they are going to use for the nursery or young child’s bedroom and even generally around the house.

We also all know the discomfort that can be caused when paint fumes invade your home and for expectant Mum’s this can be a particular problem.

Response to these issues has gathered momentum over the last decade, resulting in both specialist and mainstream manufacturers taking measures to embrace solutions, by varying routes.

At times like this not only colour, but the nature of paint take on paramount importance. One particular term that you may encounter is VOC or Volatile Organic Compounds; referring to the way a product evaporates in ordinary room temperature conditions.

There is much talk about potential impacts these can have on our health, but we all encounter VOCs regularly in our daily lives. However, it can be an extra tick in the box to know that you are using a low or no VOC product, so check the label carefully.

Another mark to consider is the EU Ecolabel or certification of child safety under BS EN 71-3:1995 (‘Toy Paint Regulations’) which show the paint has been tested to the highest standard.

One person who knows the challenge of finding the perfect product is Helen Thompson. Helen founded the Nursery Paint Company as a reaction to her inability to find an appropriately natural paint when she was pregnant with her first child.

She developed her own natural range of paint made from Soya Beans. The paints are VOC free and have achieved BS EN 71-3:1995. Initially starting with a range of twenty strong colours, the range has proved so successful that last week saw the introduction of a further twenty nine shades.

Helen feels that the whole experience of paint choice should not only be safe and as natural as possible, but also great fun – reflected in shade names such as Ga Ga Grey and Rosie Cheeks. Parents clearly share Helen’s enthusiasm as her range was awarded Best Maternity Product 2012 from Loved By Parents. (www.nurserypaint.co.uk – 01302 719918).

Helen Thompson of the Nursery Paint Company

Another company passionate about the natural quality of their paints are Earthborn, who were actually the UK’s first paint brand to be awarded BS EN 71-3:1995. This was upgraded last year to include their eggshell paints.

Earthborn topped off the year with a House Beautiful Gold Award for Best Wallcovering for its Claypaint range on account of its beautiful finish and unique formulation. It is the latter that makes them different from more standard paint and also results in a VOC free product that can still satisfy all the uses of traditional emulsion.

Earthborn New Colours 2013 

The range features sixty colours and is targeted throughout the home, not just in the nursery. Of particular interest to readers might be their hues such as Inglenook and Tuffet inspired by the Yorkshire Moors and images of dark, dramatic skies, hearty walks in the great outdoors and plenty of fresh air (www.earthbornpaints.co.uk – 01928 734171).

Earthborn New Colours 2013

Child Safe Paints are not just the preserve of specialist companies; as the Little Greene Paint company will tell you. Their water based products (Intelligent Matt Emulsion; Intelligent Eggshell and Absolute Matt Emulsion) have also all received BS EN71-3:1995 accreditation. These finishes contain less than 0.1% VOC which is three times better than the lowest eco rating available, so is pretty impressive stuff.

The intelligent finishes are designed to stand up to the extra wear and tear of family living; marks can be washed off with soapy water to make life a little easier in those hectic periods. The finishes are available in all their range colours (www.littlegreene.com – 0845 880 5855).

If after all this, you are worried that you may be sacrificing finish for eco-credentials, then a sample of any of the ranges discussed will assure you that these products are big and bold; providing great colour coverage without having to apply a myriad of coats.

Little Greene Child Safe Paint Tester Pots and Child Friendly Water Based Paints can stand up to the wear and tear of family life

Intelligent An Water Based

Child Safe Paints are not just the preserve of specialist companies; as the Little Greene Paint company will tell you. Their water based products (Intelligent Matt Emulsion; Intelligent Eggshell and Absolute Matt Emulsion) have also all received BS EN71-3:1995 accreditation. These finishes contain less than 0.1% VOC which is three times better than the lowest eco rating available, so is pretty impressive stuff.

The intelligent finishes are designed to stand up to the extra wear and tear of family living; marks can be washed off with soapy water to make life a little easier in those hectic periods. The finishes are available in all their range colours (www.littlegreene.com – 0845 880 5855).

If after all this, you are worried that you may be sacrificing finish for eco-credentials, then a sample of any of the ranges discussed will assure you that these products are big and bold; providing great colour coverage without having to apply a myriad of coats.

Eco Credentials

 The EU Ecolabel (BS EN7 1-3:1995) is a demanding accreditation standard, designed for paint used on children’s toys that are likely to be subject to sucking or chewing.

However, manufacturers recognise that if their product is safe to this level, it will be ideal for decorating a wall (which hopefully will not receive such abuse).

Achieving the standard is a rigorous process, which can take up to two years, but it is well worth looking for as it is a certification that the paint has been proved safe from eight toxic metals (including arsenic, cadmium lead, barium, mercury and chromium).

Jamie Hempsall Ltd is a multi-award winning interior design consultancy.

@JamieHempsall