Paint made from breakfast rye, sheep's wool insulation and reed building boards – plus the Buckinghamshire firm that supplies them.
All products are available from Natural Building Technologies.

Breathable clay plasters
A range of fully breathable clay plasters is available for finish coat, undercoat and one-coat applications. No chemical reaction takes place when the clay is applied, as it hardens by drying and can be reworked by adding water. Straw and flax fibres are added to increase strength and prevent cracking.

Natural paint
Emulsion in a range of colours is the latest addition to NBT's natural paints, including four pre-mixed off-whites and 30 colour concentrates. Unlike most modern paints, the natural paints contain no persistent volatile organic compounds and are designed to have minimal environmental impact.

Alternative to gypsum
A clayboard is available for internal walls and ceilings as an alternative to gypsum plasterboard. The board can absorb moisture and odours and has good insulation properties. Picture hooks, wallpaper and paints can be fixed to the board once it has been coated.

Recycled insulation
Cellulose fibre is a natural insulation material made from recycled newsprint. It has low thermal conductivity, is non-toxic and non-irritant and can be handled without protective clothing. It can be sprayed or laid by hand and is said to be resistant to fire, fungus, dry rot and pests.

Tar paint
Black timber preservation paint has been introduced as a one-coat tar paint for exterior timber. It contains no VOCs because it is made from natural asphalt and linseed oil. It can be used on timber framing, sawn timber and cladding and as subsurface timber protection where wood is in direct contact with soil. It can also be used in place of creosote.

Earth plasters
Self-coloured, self-finish earth plasters are available for use on internal walls and ceilings. The plasters can be applied to masonry, plasterboard, clayboard or lime basecoat plaster. Breathable and non-toxic, they are made by blending graded clays, silt and fine aggregates.

Breathable silicate masonry paint
Silicate masonry paint is available for renovation work when lime paint is not suitable. It can be used on any mineral-based surface, such as stone, masonry, concrete and pebble dash, or for covering old silicate-based paint. Suitable for internal and external use, the paint is washable and weather-resistant.

Ecolor for greener floors
A new flooring system called Ecolor will be available in February. Ecolor is supplied as a powder and is mixed with water to create a self-levelling screed. Various finishes are available, including swirled, blended, streaked, marbled and plain.

Natural varnish
Ecotec is a flexible, water-resistant and weatherproof linseed oil-based varnish for use on surfaces such as windows and doors. It is available in pine, walnut, oak and ebony for internal and external applications, and in clear and white for internal use.

Protective paint for timber
Scandinavian red paint is a protective coating for exterior timber. Made from rainwater, linseed oil, breakfast rye and rust, the paint is water-resistant and weatherproof and is most suitable for barns, stables and fencing. It should not be used on planed joinery such as windows and doors.

An organic builders merchant

By Jenny Hampton Pollution levels inside buildings are about 10 times higher than in the external environment. Neil May reckoned this meant there was a gap in the market for natural building products, made from ingredients such as sheep’s wool, straw and linseed oil. So May, a builder specialising in historic building restoration, launched Natural Building Technologies last November. “I felt there was a need for cheaper, mass-produced natural materials,” he says. “The time seemed right for them to hit the mainstream, particularly in the light of the success of organic food and natural medicine.” NBT aims to offer sustainable products to replace conventional materials. “We don’t produce our own products yet,” says May, “but we do get involved in developing them with our suppliers.” Many of his ideas come from Germany, where more progress has been made in this area than in the UK. They also come from his experience renovating historic buildings: “I can see what has stood up to hundreds of years of wear,” he says. May is upbeat about the future of environment-friendly building products and believes the market will continue to grow. “We have had so much feedback already,” he says. “We are focusing on getting costs down, as it is absolutely key to the success of green products that they can compete economically.” The green product market reflects a wider concern for the health of the environment, as well as a growing emphasis on personal health issues. According to May, confidence is the only thing holding back the market, although “legislation will push change in this direction, and very rapidly”.

sheep’s wool insulation

NBT has launched a range of insulation made from sheep’s wool. The product, which has a thermal conductivity of only 0.037 W/m2°C, can absorb, store and re-emit more than one-third of its own weight in water vapour. It contains no ozone-depleting chemicals and is non-toxic.

Plasterboard alternative

Reed building boards and mats have been developed as a natural alternative to plasterboard. Made from natural reeds bound with zinc wire, they can be used internally and externally as a render carrier for walls and ceilings, either against a solid background or over studs and joists. The boards are also available in hessian.