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In the Limelight: ‘Vegan’ Paint Company Settles on Fresh Vision


By Jill M. Speegle

With ingredients like clay, chalk, lime, and Italian marble, it’s not surprising that Unearthed Paints, a recent entry into the eco-friendly paint scene, is building a grass-roots following.

 Unearthed Paints

 Photos courtesy of Unearthed Paints

The small start-up provides a full list of ingredients on each product.

Based in Louisville, Colo., the company is crafting paint and coatings billed as biodegradable, non-toxic, odorless, zero-VOC and vegan.

The company says the paints, plasters and wood finishes it offers have been used in Germany and other countries around the world for nearly 30 years (under the name Kreidezeit), and Unearthed is the first company to bring this technology to the U.S. market.

The paints are tinted with earth and mineral pigments, including ochers, sienna, umbers, ultramarines and spinels, the company says. The pigments produce a “depth and radiance” unlike that of conventional paints.

The paints are shipped in powder form, which the company notes extends the life of the paint and eliminates any chemical preservatives.

Ingredient Transparency

In keeping with the company’s philosophy “to help educate consumers on the benefits of using natural paints,” it provides a full ingredient disclosure for all its offerings.

The small start-up says listing its ingredients on its product is a “risk it’s willing to take to remain true to its ideals.”

Unearthed Paints

“You can’t expect consumers to believe you when you tell them your product is sustainable and non-toxic if you aren’t willing to tell them what’s in it,” said Jessica Pfohl, Unearthed Paints owner and attorney.

Pfohl and her husband, architect Florian Speier, founded the company last fall.

Unearthed Product Line

The paint products included in the line include: Clay Paint, Vega Paint, Lime Paint, Gecko Paint and Plant Glue Paint. Below are the company’s descriptions of the products.

In addition, the company also offers natural lime plasters, wood finishes, primers and thinners. 

Clay Paint

Natural white clay provides an exquisite finish using earth and mineral pigments that are blended to create a robust palette.

 Unearthed Paints
Clay Paint utilizes vegetable casein (vegetable protein) and white clay as binding agents, producing a durable, velvet matte surface.

A wide spectrum of hues can be achieved by mixing the 12 available clay colors or by tinting the white Clay Paint with Unearthed pigments. Clay Paint colors are premixed with pigments and can be used pure for rich, deep colors or mixed in Natural White Clay Paint for subtler, lighter shades.

The product utilizes vegetable casein (vegetable protein) and white clay as binding agents. The combination of these binding agents combines high durability of the coating with a velvet matte surface.

Primarily developed for indoor applications, the matte finish is suitable for use on absorbent surfaces, such as plaster, stone, concrete, wallpaper, drywall, and fibrous plaster boards. Clay Paint is not recommended for certain permanently humid surfaces, including kitchens and bathrooms.

Vega Paint

Redefining traditional milk paint, Vega Paint is made with vegetable casein directly derived from plants, rather than milk casein.

 Unearthed Paints
Vega Paint is made with vegetable casein directly derived from plants, rather than milk casein.

The vegan option is also shipped as a dry powder, is easy to use, wipe-resistant, and provides excellent coverage.

Vega Paint features an equally diverse and inspiring palette of colors with a velvety smooth matte finish. Colors include White Vega Paint, derived from pure Italian marble for a natural, harmonic white, and three Straight-from-Nature colors, which are artfully blended for an outstanding and unforgettable effect.

Primarily developed for indoor applications, the matte finish is suitable for use on absorbent surfaces such as plaster, stone, concrete, wallpaper, drywall, and fibrous plaster boards. The product is not recommended for certain permanently humid surfaces, including kitchens and bathrooms.

Lime Paint

Designed using a proprietary manufacturing process, Unearthed Lime Paint has excellent adhesion and binding, essentially becoming a layer of limestone as it hardens on the painted surface.

Unearthed Lime Paint embraces limestone’s versatility with finishes that can work together or stand alone. Lime Paint alone has high light-reflecting power, while tinted Lime Paint typically has slight variations in color following the direction of application, creating slightly cloudy look. Lime paint can also be soaped with Marseille Soap following application, creating a slightly glossy surface with increased dirt and water resistance.

The lime option is available in an extensive range of finishes and earth and mineral pigment colors.

Lime Paint is also highly alkaline and therefore naturally resistant to fungus and mold growth, making it ideal for bathroom and kitchen applications.

Gecko Paint

Similar to the tropical lizard it is named after, Gecko Paint’s distinctive feature is its ability to cling to almost any smooth surface—even glazed tile. Gecko Paint is based on a mixture of waterglasses, commonly referred to as “liquid glass.” If exposed to air, it takes carbon dioxide out of the air and petrifies onto the surface to which it is applied

The product features the same earth and mineral pigment color palette available in the Vega and Lime Paint collections, as well as versatility to mix pigment colors to create a unique hue.

Gecko Paint can be used on a wide variety of interior applications, including kitchen and bathroom.

Plant Glue Paint

Based on traditional distemper recipes, Plant Glue Paint is the most economical choice for low traffic areas, producing a breathable finish that contributes to a positive room climate.

The product can easily be washed off the wall. This is often desired for historic properties, where layers and layers of paint would otherwise hide the intricate stucco work.

The paint is available in natural white, which can be tinted with any of the available earth and mineral pigments.

Social Responsibility Pledge

Since its inception, the company has also actively supported the Chaco Rain Forest in Paraguay.

In fact, the company pledges, “For every square foot of Unearthed Paints products purchased, Unearthed will purchase one square foot of rain forest, and donate it back to indigenous peoples that have responsibly lived on the land for thousands of years.”

More information:


Jill M. Speegle

Jill Speegle is the Editor of Durability + Design News. She earned her B.A. in journalism and English as well as her J.D. from the University of Arkansas. In Sketches, Jill shares her thoughts on a number of topics that may be of interest to the D+D community, including architecture, interior design, green building, historic restoration, and whatever else catches her radar.



Tagged categories: Architecture; Color; Design; Green building; Interior design; Restoration; Coatings manufacturers; Color + Design; Environmentally friendly; Sustainability; Unearthed Paints; VOC-free

Comment from Gary Burke, (2/21/2012, 9:44 AM)

Very Cool Products!

Comment from Kay Ward-Friedland, (4/27/2012, 9:35 PM)

Wow, it's time for this innovation. "Color-in the building world with happiness". The result more sales, more social interaction. The return of happiness to this "passing bleak market"!

Comment from Kay Ward-Friedland, (4/27/2012, 9:36 PM)

Just added this to "My favorites" on my computer.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (5/1/2012, 8:36 AM)

Hopefully these products are a lot more durable than traditional caesin paints.

Comment from Jim Armstrong, (5/1/2012, 9:25 AM)

Interesting products, nice to see something fresh and innovative, though I suspect these products lack the necessary durability to get acceptance in more than a niche market.

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