Brouns & Co, a Leeds-based business that manufactures traditional paints based on linseed oil, has seen an increase in orders from the US for its products.
The business, one of only a handful of linseed paint manufacturers in Europe, has more than doubled orders from across the US in the last 12 months, with a focus on regions such New England, where the maintenance and preservation of historic wooden buildings is a major conservation issue.
Brouns & Co’s UK client list includes a string of stately homes such as Chatsworth House and Woburn Abbey, and linseed-based paint is gaining in popularity globally due to its environmentally friendly and hypoallergenic properties, as well as its durability.
Founder Michiel Brouns said: “The US is a relatively new market for us but we are seeing a rapid growth in orders and word seems to be spreading, particularly among owners of the historic wooden properties typical of the East Coast and other historic areas of America that were settled in the 18th and 19th centuries.
“People are looking for products that are environmentally sustainable and long lasting, and linseed paint is ideal. Texas is also shaping up to be an interesting market for us and we have had multiple orders from the state in recent months.”
The business currently manufactures its linseed paint in Scandinavia but plans are underway to move production to Yorkshire by the end of this year. The firm’s raw linseed oil is produced from flax grown near Wetherby.
Brouns, who relocated from his native Netherlands to Yorkshire in 2006, launched his Garforth-based business with Histoglass, a specialised thin double-glazing product ideal for historic properties, before diversifying into high quality natural paints.
“Linseed paint is an incredible and sustainable product for wooden surfaces both outside and in,” he said. “We have this notion in the UK that the more coats of paint we put on timber, the better it is. Unfortunately, water always finds a way in, and when it does, it also needs to find a way out again.
“The usual application of four or five coats of a petrochemical-based paint does the exact opposite of what it is meant to do. It seals the water in and then the timber starts to rot.
“Linseed paint is different because it doesn’t form a film on top of the timber; it allows water to escape again and even helps to preserve the wood. Maintenance is just a wipe with some oil once every 10-15 years, so it’s actually cheaper than many brands of conventional paint.”