What is different about natural paints and oils

and why use non-toxic finishes?

What is so different about natural paints and oils?

The difference between Natural paints and oils and  the common or standard chemical based paints is that natural paints avoid petrochemicals, heavy metals or toxic solvents. In their application, modern natural paints and oils are similar to use as the common or standard chemical based paints. Professional painters enjoy using natural finishes because they don't have to deal with toxins.

Are all green paints and timber finishes equal?

There are many ’green’ paints and timber finishes advertised, most of them are not natural.  Their claims are based on their 'improved' Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content (relative to their previously high VOC content), or they have a recycled or reclaimed petrochemical content.

Bio Paint natural paint on the nursery wall



BioPaint natural enamel lacquer on doors


What is a VOC?

The acronym VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound. A VOC is an organic liquid made up mostly of carbon and hydrogen, but includes many other chemical elements.  It is volatile, which means it easily becomes a gas, it switches from liquid to gas easily.
Think of a petrol station in summer, sometimes you can see the petrol ‘haze’ or fumes coming from the bowser nozzle. This is the petrol volatilising, becoming a gas. Petrol is toxic, and we are usually careful not to breathe it in. Conventional paints are made from petrochemicals, many are toxic, and these toxins continue to volatilise (become a gas) long after the paint is applied. It’s difficult not to breathe in the fumes when it’s in the house you are living and sleeping in.  

VOCs may affect us in many different ways.  Our bodies can usually tell when VOCs are good or bad for us – we recoil at the smell of methane, turpentine and car exhausts.  Now think about surface finishes.  We don’t usually sniff a can of paint and delight at the sensation.  (Some manufacturers mask the smell of VOC’s with synthetic perfumes, which may smell better but are no better for us, and don’t remove the hazard.)

The VOCs in paint can cause headaches / migraines and nausea in the short term.  Many other more serious problems can result such as  Painter’s Syndrome (brain and central nervous system damage), diseases and cancers, and VOCs contribute to "Sick Building Syndrome". The problems are worse when we live and sleep with these harmful toxins. Indoor air quality ranks amongst the top environmental risks to public health.

Many synthetic, or plastic (ie acrylic) paints and timber finishes outgas for more than 3 years. By the time you get rid of the smell completely, it may well be time to repaint.

Volvox Clay Decor natural paint on the walls in the retreat.

 Good quality natural finishes:


A good quality natural finish is primarily based on clays, minerals and plant extracts and does not smell bad or make you ill.
Natural surface finishes allow surfaces to ‘breathe’, so air and moisture can move through. Most of our common building materials are breathable, for example brick (made from clay), timber, plasterboard. If you coat these materials with a natural, breathable paint, you maintain that quality, and that's a very desirable thing! 

With a natural surface coating you don’t get as much condensation when there is a temperature difference between the inside of the wall and the outside, and you don’t have the same problems with mould.   
Natural paints avoid toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which means they do not make the air in our homes toxic.    
The durability of modern natural finishes is as good as ‘conventional’ finishes.
Our paints is the most washable of natural paints.
We can supply natural paints in a large range of colours, and we can match the colour of your favourite cushion, piece of furniture or paint colour chips etc. 

See our Picture Gallery of natural paints and oils here..

The Best Natural Finishes are by Bio Paints and Livos

All products:
-  use fully declared ingredients so you know what you're getting

-  are allergy free or low allergenic

-  are biodegradable as much as possible
-  minimise contribution to greenhouse emissions
-  are based on renewable raw materials with the exception of abundant minerals
-  use natural ingredients, or a synthetic material if no natural alternative exists
-  are manufactured to a high standard
-  are able to be used by DIYers, home renovators or professionals painters

-  can be applied with the usual tools such as brush, roller or spray. No special equipment needed.

-  are free of dangerous solvents, like toluene, xylene, glycol ether derivates etc.

Bio natural paint on the walls in the study.



In Australia, there are two premium brands; Bio and Livos. Bio is manufactured in Australia, is wholly Australian owned and presents a comprehensive range.

The range includes:

Wall paint

Wall primer

Timber Oils

Enamel Lacquers - water based matt and semi gloss

Enamel Lacquer Undercoat


Specialised Cleaners


Floor Oils

Wax finishes

 Clay Decor natural paint on the walls in stairwell.

Paint Colour

Bio has a range of natural mineral pigments, which can be mixed to achieve a wide range of colours.

Livos has a similar range of colours, also based on mineral pigments. 

You can buy the Bio pigments and mix your own colours, or if you prefer we can mix colours for you from either set of pigments; for which there is an additional charge.  We can match most colours from other colour charts.

Product Information

Whilst these natural finishes are quite simple to use, we provide full application and coverage data in our information sheets, on our website and also on the container.  Surfaces treated or painted with our products can be easily renewed or rejuvenated, create special effects and are easy to care for.

Don't risk the environment and your health.

Use only natural paints, oils and finishes.


Bio Paint logo
woman painting wall

 more about BIO

 Select your paints






"How to paint" videos


Have a look at these short videos especially if you are going to do your own, DIY painting or renovating. The videos are presented by painters who have been using our natural paints for years. They don't just talk about using natural paint, these videos are full of usefull hints and tips about painting in general. They will save you time and money when DIY painting and renovating.


This one is about selecting the equipment you need, but there are several more, most of them very short but all very worthwhile!


See the Tips & Tricks for DIY Painting page here.