What Are Mineral Paints

Raw Materials

A mineral paint contains four principal ingredients; quartz sand, potassium carbonate, mineral pigments and mineral fillers. A simple formula that creates a truly remarkable paint coating.

The use of natural and abundant materials ensures that a mineral paint, from cradle to grave, has no detrimental impact on the environment and the user.

Modern acrylic based paints and their production differ dramatically. They start with crude oil as the base component which is processed and refined to create artificial resins, which is then further processed to create a paint. This process is extremely energy intensive and produces vast volumes of hazardous waste. Whilst the industry has taken significant measures to try and reduce the environmental impact, the raw materials used means that it cannot be eliminated.

Another issue that is often overlooked is what happens when modern paints have reached their end of life. Due to the chemical formulation of these paints recycling them and the materials that are coated with them can prove near impossible. Mineral paints by comparison can be returned back into the ground.

Paint and the Substrate

While acrylic paints effectively glue themselves to the surface, mineral paints soak into the surface and form a strong chemical bond through a process called silicification, adhering to the silica in the substrate itself.

Acrylic paints and their bond with the substrate slowly break down over time, and they eventually start to discolour, flake or lift off when cleaning and through weathering, ultimately reaching a point where they become unsightly and require recoating. Mineral paints by comparison don’t break down over time, are extremely lightfast and hard wearing and aside from natural weathering offer unsurpassed durability.

In an environment where an acrylic paint lasts 5 years a mineral paint should last 10. In an environment where an acrylic paint gives you 10 years, a mineral paint will last almost indefinitely.


The bond between substrate and mineral paint is known as silicification. It can be achieved in two forms:

1. Active Silicification: where the paint achieves a full chemical bond to the substrate, meaning that it is near impossible to remove.

2. Passive Silicification: where the paint soaks into the background and achieves a partial bond, still resulting in very durable finish that can eventually be removed.

Beeck are the only manufacturer who provide a range of both active and passive mineral based paints. For Beeck’s active mineral paints look out for the A.S.F logo (active silicification formula).

Beeck in Traditional Construction

Beeck Building 1

Using a vapour permeable paint in solid wall construction is essential to preserve the structure of the building. Before the introduction of the cavity wall, the majority of buildings comprised of vapour permeable materials such as lime mortar and limewash. This allowed for evaporation pathways and moisture to escape from the structure.

Modern paints are designed to prevent water from entering the substrate, in turn they also prevent moisture from escaping. As the water is not allowed to release, hydraulic pressure builds up and over time can force the paint from the surface. If water is allowed to sit within a structure due to modern renders or paint coatings, the fabric of the building can be damaged.

Beeck Mineral Paints are fully vapour permeable coatings. Some paints claim to be breathable; this can be used as a vague marketing term with levels of breathability so low they have zero impact on moisture movement. Each Beeck paint comes with a tested and confirmed SD value, a German standard for measuring the vapour permeability of paint.

Beeck in Contemporary Construction

Managing Moisture

It has been estimated that 75% of building failures are due to water. The principle reasons for failure are usually water penetration and interstitial condensation. Moisture can also have an adverse effect on the thermal performance of the building as well as the building occupant’s health.

By using a mineral paint externally you achieve a chemical bond between the paint and substrate, this eliminates any potential issues with paint cracking, lifting or peeling. It will also enable any captive moisture the chance to escape externally, rather than being drawn internally. Beeck exterior mineral paints also contain water repellents, which prevents up to 95% of liquid that is subjected to the surface from entering.

Beeck paints can also help regulate the internal climate of a building by storing and releasing moisture. This is useful for both historic and contemporary construction, as on average 4 people in a 3-bed property will generate 112 pints of moisture a week from basic daily activities. Interested in knowing more about breathable coatings? Find out more about breathable paints, limewash and lime paint.

Beeck Mineral Paints are naturally alkaline and, combined with maintaining indoor humidity, this makes them excellent at preventing mould growth. Chemicals in acrylic based coatings and the VOC’s that they produce can have a harmful impact on our environment. Beeck paints have extremely low VOC content and do not release harmful chemicals.

Environmental Impact

Quartz sand, the main component of Beeck Mineral Paints is a naturally occurring mineral with an almost limitless availability, unlike oil which is a main component of acrylic based paints. The production process is incredibly streamlined and requires few additions.

Due to their chemical bond and high durability mineral paints can be easily cleaned and maintained. They need recoating far less often than conventional paints, a clean down of the surface and just one coat of paint is usually all that is required. Beeck Mineral paints have been proven to exceed 10 years even in the most exposed conditions, which allows for simple maintenance cycles and budgeting. Internally a mineral paint will far exceed this timescale and will likely last as long as the background remains intact.

The information provided by Cornish Lime is for informational purposes only and does not amount to a specification. Every project is unique, so please consult a professional before undertaking a project. Use of this site and reliance on any information on the site is solely at your own risk.

12 thoughts on “What Are Mineral Paints”

  1. Dear sirs
    I have a 3 bed flat on the 9th floor of 10. I have students living there and they do not open windows, therefore there is an issue with condensation and mould. Being so high I cannot reach from the ground the external walls. What paint will be best for internal please.
    Best wishes

    • Dear Sean

      It is always difficult with rental properties as you have no control over the way the occupants ventilate the space. I would recommend either the Beeck Maxil or Sensil as this will provide added durability as well as vapour permeability. A breathable paint may help the issue and the Beeck paints will also help prevent mould growth due to their alkalinity and they can be cleaned (especially the Beeck Sensil). However, the paint alone will probably not solve the issue, you may need to look at some form of passive ventilation or a machine system that will ensure airflow through the space. If you would like to give us a call on 01208 79779 and we can run through the options in more detail.

      Kind Regards

      Adam Brown

  2. I am an architect and interested in natural pigmented paints and renders. Please could you send me some samples of your natural exterior paints, it is going onto old lime render and then inside is lime plaster, and also any colour samples of natural lime renders you have. I am interested in samples with no artitifical colours added, only natural pigments, unless the colouration is with a waste product like PFA or recycled brick dust.
    Please send render and exterior paint samples to:
    Fenella Collingridge
    19 Penn road
    London N7 9RD. Thank you.

    • Dear Fenella

      I have arranged for samples and information to be sent out to you, it should be with you early next week.

      If you have any questions please contact me.

      Kind Regards


  3. We have just moved to a house which has a number of rendered walls that have been finished in lime wash paints which have been applied so as to look aged by adding red and yellow tints. I’m not sure if the render is cement render or other.

    Is there any problem if the make of the lime wash is different to that already used as I want to ensure hairline cracks are water proofed for the winter and generally the walls are water repellant.

    Can you advise which products are best to use & colour chart for base colours.

    • Hi Richard

      The mineral paints are different to limewash in how they bond to the substrate and can provide a longer lasting finish. With any paint, the new paint will only be as good as the surface it is applied too, so we would recommend cleaning the wall down with a fungicide to ensure no contaminates are present and then removing any loose or dusty paint. You could then follow this with the Beeck Renosil system, which would involve 1 coat of Beeck Fixative (primer), 1 coat of Beeck Renosil Coarse (thinned with Fixative) (base coat designed to level out imperfections and fill hairline cracks) and 1 coat of Beeck Renosil Fine (finish coat to provide longevity and a water repellent yet full vapour permeable finish).

      If you have any questions or would like any further information on the various paint systems and colours, please do not hesitate to contact us.

      With Kind Regards


  4. Thank you most informative. We have a stairwell where the walls are lime plastered. The house was built in the early 19th Century. When we bought the house the stairwell was wallpapered and the wallpaper has been painted twice. there have been damp problems, If we strip off the wallpaper would one of your mineral paints be appropriate to apply to the lime plaster? Thank you for any reply you can give.

  5. I am starting work on an old lime stone building, in the past repairs have been done to some of the lintels around the windows with concrete, what mineral paints would you recommend for me to colour match to intergrate and simulate the concreat to the old limestone . Will the mineral paint adhere to concrete.

    • Thanks for getting in touch. Yes, the Beeck mineral paint will adhere to concrete – we would suggest the Renosil product which we can mix to over 240 colours. Perhaps you could email us some images and we can take a look for you? The email address to send them to is justine@cornishlime.co.uk and if you’d like us to send a colour card please email your address over. Many thanks

  6. Hello, I have a 19th century cottage where repairs have been made to lower parts of the internal walls over time with modern gypsum plaster and the walls painted with modern paints. We have lived in the house for 30 years and never had a problem before but after this really wet weather since last year we have noticed the paint is what looks like ‘blistering’ and salts appearing in the surface on the lower section of two of the internal walls. I hope that by repairing the walls where modern gypsum plaster has been used rather than removing all the plaster and replastering the whole wall and repairing with lime plaster and then looking to paint with mineral paint the walls will breath again and I won’t have this problem again. Can I paint the mineral paint over the existing modern paint on the upper part of the wall as well as the lower part which I am replastering. Hoping you can help.

    • Hi,
      Thanks for getting in touch. Are you able to forward any photographs please? It’s much easier for us to give tailored advice when we can see the issues you’re having. The email address to send them to is justine@cornishlime.co.uk
      We look forward to hearing back from you.


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