Problems (& Solutions) with Allback linseed paint
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jefinch



Joined: 02 Jan 2008
Posts: 34
Location: Elverson, PA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:28 pm    Post subject: Problems (& Solutions) with Allback linseed paint Reply with quote

(also see this discussion: http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2668)

Let me start this out by saying that my sole purpose in starting this thread is hopefully to get some bona-fide answers to what is going on, ideally from Hans Allback or a person knowledgeable about the chemistry and properties of the product. I have used Allback products both professionally and at home since early summer of 2006 both exterior and interior. I have advocated for this paint and served as a referral for the distributor. I have done a few web searches to see if I could locate any other instances of these problems and came up empty. I have been in contact with the distributor by email and phone. I want to continue to use this paint because I like working with it and have had no adhesion problems even where I put it on a cracked and heavilty weathered window sill with absolutely no preparation. I could go on but for the sake of space/time I feel it's best to get to the meat of the matter.

I work in an historic village museum and we have used linseed paint on more than 6 buildings in the park. I have a colleague from a different employer who has experienced the same issues on a number of buildings under his administration. And the problem is.........mildew. Lots of it. In some cases to the point of making the building look gray instead of white. See the attachment for my resoponse from this morning intersperspersed in the distributor's initial response. The result of this was a 40+ minute phone conversation that may have answered some questions but didn't provide any answers as to why some of these conditions exist.

The odd thing is that it's not a universal problem. The same contractor's crew painted both buildings where we are seeing the biggest problems but at the same time or a year prior they also did the painting on a building that has no significant issues. Rather than go on and so I can get this out and the discussion going I'll halt for now and post some photos that show some of my dilemma. I have others too but this will be a start.



09-11-24 019.jpg
 Description:
A steel bulkhead door and supports. Immediately adjacent to this is a door that is recessed into the stone walls with a storm door flush with the outside wall. In this space there is no obvious mildew.
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09-11-24 019.jpg



09-11-24 006.jpg
 Description:
A close-up of a section of cedar siding that was replaced just prior to the painting contract.
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09-11-24 006.jpg



09-09-16 006.jpg
 Description:
This looks like the painter came around the corner from the front and did some touch-ups.
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09-09-16 006.jpg



09-11-24 010.jpg
 Description:
Looks like a half moon cookie. The line doesn't break between boards. The contractor used a method to help prevent the possibility of missing an area.
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09-11-24 010.jpg



Allback email-response.doc
 Description:
Email between myself and Allback distributor

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 Filename:  Allback email-response.doc
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impact1839



Joined: 12 Feb 2009
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First thing that comes to mind is:
1) did it just rain prior to application and sometimes certain wood needs longer to dry out so the question becomes how recently had precipitation or dew been present??
2) Were the batches of paint ordered at the same time? Same color? Same timeframe? Was the purified linseed oil used at the same time same batch?

I personally was very interested in this line of paint but held off due to the fact it had not been tested. I believe based on the claims of the manufacturer that this could be a wonderful paint but I hear about these problems with the line and I ask myself why would I pay more to use an untested product when I can take less time to use a product like Duration from Sherwin Williams or another well regarded company who has a lifetime guarantee on their paint

I think some scientific data and testing of the purified linseed oil versus boiled linseed oil should take place similar to the glazing experiment that John Leeke is performing currently in this forum. The experiment should be rather easy to determine if mildew will feed on the oil. I just dont buy it yet. The oil may be the problem. The claims may be a sham. Think about how many people used the boiled linseed oil back in the day and the high percentage of people who did not have the mildew problem to begin with unless the environment aided in the mildew. I wonder if the property you discuss had past mildew problems. You are going to have to identify many more details to help us determine what the problem could be.

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jefinch



Joined: 02 Jan 2008
Posts: 34
Location: Elverson, PA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

impact1839 wrote:
First thing that comes to mind is:
1) did it just rain prior to application and sometimes certain wood needs longer to dry out so the question becomes how recently had precipitation or dew been present??


I haven't gone back in my daily reports to analyze this type of information. Unfortunately I don't keep records specific enough to note exactly which part of the building was being done on a given day. The buildings with the biggest problems were both done late in the year, one even into the winter. I specifically asked about cold weather application and was told that this was another advantage of the linseed paint, that it could be applied in all kinds of weather if one is willing to wait longer for it to cure.

impact1839 wrote:
2) Were the batches of paint ordered at the same time? Same color? Same timeframe? Was the purified linseed oil used at the same time same batch?


The buildings that exhibit the worst problems as well as the 3rd that has only minor issues were all white paint but ordered at various different times. The contractor indicated to me that for the large building he perceived a difference between some of the buckets of paint. This seems to me to be a logical explanation for the half moon cookie effect. I expect that the boiled oil was from different batches as well. I have noticed that different batches of oil vary in color but allow that this might happen normally with a plant based product and assume that it has no effect on the properties.

impact1839 wrote:
I believe based on the claims of the manufacturer that this could be a wonderful paint but I hear about these problems with the line and I ask myself why would I pay more to use an untested product when I can take less time to use a product like Duration from Sherwin Williams or another well regarded company who has a lifetime guarantee on their paint.


With my understanding of paint history and 20 year track record of the products in northern Europe as well as my aversion to using a latex paint on wood I was willing to give it a shot. My initial inquiries to the distributor were satisfying and I believed I was getting helpful and accurate information that was addressing my questions. I started to see a flaw when minor problems cropped up and the answers weren't matching up to the evidence provided and information I had been given throughout my 30 years of restoration work. Long guarantees are nice but I always wonder what remediation I'll actually receive if there's a claim down the road. And now that you mention it I don't recall ever seeing an actual guarantee on the Allback products.

impact1839 wrote:
I think some scientific data and testing of the purified linseed oil versus boiled linseed oil should take place.


My colleague has better resources and in fact is doing just this. One of the first things that they looked at microscopically showed them that the mildew was growing into the paint and not from the substrate.

impact1839 wrote:
Think about how many people used the boiled linseed oil back in the day and the high percentage of people who did not have the mildew problem to begin with unless the environment aided in the mildew.


This may be true (no problems) but they were also able to add lead to the paint. I have been curious about the environment aspect because the paint I put on my own house 2 years ago, about 220 miles to the north, still looks great. And about 100 feet from one of the problem buildings is the building which has only minor issues.

impact1839 wrote:
I wonder if the property you discuss had past mildew problems.


None that were obvious. And why does the same problem show up on the brand new siding as that of the 40+ year old.

impact1839 wrote:
You are going to have to identify many more details to help us determine what the problem could be.


I realize that there are so many factors involved that it's unlikely for this to be ultimately solved via an online forum but I find great value in input from multiple sources and perspectives. I also am hoping that somebody out there may have experienced the same thing and had fewer variables so as to better pinpoint where the problem lies. I am naive enough to want the distributor/manufacturer to help us figure this out. I am realistic enough to realize that in this world of cut-throat marketing I may only continue to get stock marketing phrases and suggestions for future techniques. I had hoped that my past relationship and referrals might result in some facsimile of the former.



09-09-16 007.jpg
 Description:
Window done over 2 years ago by the crew of the same contractor.
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09-09-16 007.jpg



09-11-24 021.jpg
 Description:
Window done less than a year ago.
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09-11-24 021.jpg


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rncx



Joined: 21 Jun 2008
Posts: 660
Location: Little Rock, AR

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i've tested this paint, and am also optimistic about it, but haven't used it for any length of time in an exterior environment, however, some personal opinions...

1) i think the "organic" claim is marketing and nothing more, just like "organic" foods (which are all made by the major food corporations like everything else). the MSDS says that their linseed oil contains naphtha and manganese. both of which are toxic. you'll find that their linseed oil is pretty similar to this brand, so i doubt its value beyond the above linked brand which costs about 1/3 of the allback stuff, with the exception of the manganese. that might be their idea, there's a study from NYU about the toxicity of manganese to fungi but it looks like you have to pay for the full text...

http://www.springerlink.com/content/l26j2479g4jtl634/

2) the reason i'm optimistic about it is the fact that you can reintroduce the binder to the coating and thus maintain the coating, which is of course not possible with modern acrylic or alkyd paints, but the consensus seems to be that old coatings lasted free of fungus as long as they did because they were poisonous. the lead was poisonous and the turp they put in their seal coat was also poisonous. so, to attain that level of resistance to fungi we don't need "organic", we need poisonous. some woods have saps are naturally toxic to fungi, some environments have characteristics naturally toxic to fungi (common mold and mildew you see on houses for instance do not grow in salt water environments), but for those that aren't, quite simply, preventing them means making the coatings more toxic not less toxic.
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sswiat



Joined: 01 Sep 2004
Posts: 231
Location: Cambria, New York

PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mildew needs three things to grow:

1) moisture
2) food source
3) temperature

Since moisture and temperature (above freezing at least) are givens with your project, we should look at what the food source is(was).

From my understanding of the mildew growth and its association with linseed oil is that the mildew is feeding on the proteins in the oil. Your lower cost store bought linseed oil is full of protein. The Allback linseed oil is purified to remove the proteins.

My question is then how was a food source introduced into the Allback paint?

Would it be possible that the painting crew (as good as they may be) used a non-Allback linseed oil to pre-oil the wood surfaces? Did they add additional non-purified linseed oi into the paint to allow it to spread better in the cooler temperatures?

What I have found with my use of Allback is that it is a definite different system than what I am use to with paints. I imagine that your painting crew is more familiar with the alkyds and acrylics than with linseed paint. It has to be spread very thin. That is why it is recommended that you paint with a rag the first couple of times.

Further, although Allback can be painted in colder temperatures, it will be thicker and will not spread as well unless you actually warm the paint much as you do with the pre-oil. The idea is to get the oil to soak into the wood. Generally, I still would use the 50 degree air/surface temperature cutoff for proper spread and penetration. With the Allback you do not have to concern yourself with those cold overnight temperatures while it dries.

I would investigate (whether the crew workers will admit to it) that someone took the non-pure linseed oil and mixed it in to get the paint to spread better. Once again, the mildew needs a food source to thrive.

I am scheduled to travel to Sweden this winter to meet with Hans Allback to study and better learn his linseed oil/paint system. I could bring this issue with me to discuss and obtain some answers.
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rncx



Joined: 21 Jun 2008
Posts: 660
Location: Little Rock, AR

PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there's a pretty good writeup here about the washing of linseed oil from an artist's point of view...

http://www.calcitesunoil.com/WashingLiinseedOil.html

the difference, if we are to believe the allback co's claims, is that modern oils are heated to destroy the fatty acids left in the oil, whereas theirs are filtered instead. the catch with the heated is it no longer dries very well (or at all), so driers are added (like naphtha, spirits, etc.)

the allback company also adds naphtha and manganese, which, from limited perusal of scientific journals on the subject, seems to cause a pH change that discourages fungi.

we could really use a test on this to either confirm or deny their claims of a different sort of linseed oil. like i said i'm all for the idea of linseed oil bound/borne paint, but i don't have any faith in their linseed oil being different than the linseed oil at the BORGs until proven otherwise.

should be a simple enough test. take a very dry length of lumber, coat it with klean strip BLO and allback BLO and set both in the basement for a month and see what happens.
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jade



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 786
Location: Hawley MA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

has anyone else noticed the silhouette of the timber frame in the 4th photo?

i think it would be a prudent gesture for allback to come out and do their own testing to determine the cause of the issue....even if it is found to be not wholly the 'fault' of their paint, perception is everything and this is not some rinky dink operation.....

...jade
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sswiat



Joined: 01 Sep 2004
Posts: 231
Location: Cambria, New York

PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent observation Jade. Which now leads me to the question of what this building was used for and is it possibly a mold spore haven which loves to feed on any type of linseed oil? It appears that the mold and/or moisture is working its way from the inside out?
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Ingalls DeMars Paint



Joined: 08 Oct 2008
Posts: 33
Location: CT

PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good eye Jade......this is just like CSI for paint!
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jade



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
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Location: Hawley MA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

heh-heh....i still have my X-ray vision glasses from 1950's comic books!
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jefinch



Joined: 02 Jan 2008
Posts: 34
Location: Elverson, PA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sswiat wrote:
My question is then how was a food source introduced into the Allback paint?

Would it be possible that the painting crew (as good as they may be) used a non-Allback linseed oil to pre-oil the wood surfaces?


Highly unlikely. I was on site almost every day and at sporadic times. This particular contractor is more concerned with quality than pinching pennys to make a profit. I'm confident that only Allback oil was used.

Quote:
I imagine that your painting crew is more familiar with the alkyds and acrylics than with linseed paint. It has to be spread very thin.


I always stress the need to spread the paint as thinnly as possible. Herein may lie a possible partial explanation. I do think that the paint was probably applied too thick. But why should that create a situation that would support the growth of mildew and what caused the vertical line of demarcation on the south wall and the area of noticeable difference on the northeast corner?

Quote:
I still would use the 50 degree air/surface temperature cutoff for proper spread and penetration. With the Allback you do not have to concern yourself with those cold overnight temperatures while it dries..


One issue I have had with the Allback products is the lack of written directions for each product. I have always contacted the distributor for specific applications but over time have gotten conflicting information and a lack of attention to specific details that have been provided to try and get accurate diagnosese.

Quote:
I am scheduled to travel to Sweden this winter to meet with Hans Allback to study and better learn his linseed oil/paint system. I could bring this issue with me to discuss and obtain some answers.


I'd love to get a solution to this and would be happy to correspond directly with a person who thouroughly familiar with the contents and properties of the product and would be willing to truly investigate the evidence.
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jefinch



Joined: 02 Jan 2008
Posts: 34
Location: Elverson, PA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jade wrote:
has anyone else noticed the silhouette of the timber frame in the 4th photo?.

This and various nail spots are curious pieces of the puzzle. I suspect they offer important information but nobody has been able to suggest an explanation.

Quote:
i think it would be a prudent gesture for allback to come out and do their own testing to determine the cause of the issue....even if it is found to be not wholly the 'fault' of their paint, perception is everything and this is not some rinky dink operation.....

Ultimately this is my hope. I think there are just too many bits of information, which don't all point to a common cause, for this to be solved by phone or internet discussion. As I see it, at minimum stake here is future sales of many dollars worth of products. As it stands now I have to remove linseed paint from the spec's of a project that has already been awarded. And as much as I may be reluctant to do so will have to specify alkyd and acrylic product for any future projects. And this isn't just for the projects where I'm located but in other places in and outside our organization where I have previously recommended linseed paints.
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jefinch



Joined: 02 Jan 2008
Posts: 34
Location: Elverson, PA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sswiat wrote:
Which now leads me to the question of what this building was used for and is it possibly a mold spore haven which loves to feed on any type of linseed oil? It appears that the mold and/or moisture is working its way from the inside out?

This building was constructed in the mid-1960's as a reconstruction of an iron casting house. It is totally exposed on the inside. Some of the floor is bare casting sand and the rest is wood flooring on sleeper joists laid on the ground. The interior of the building was painted using linseed paint a little over a year ago. By my estimation there is ample ventilation all the time and even more on the 5 days per week that the park is open.

Keep in mind the following:
+The half moon cookie wall. There is no difference of treatment for the entire length of the interior of this wall.
+We are experiencing the same problems with the wood trim and metal bulkhead door on a stone building that is used as staff housing.
+A building only 100 feet away from the Cast House is not exhibiting the same issues.
+All 3 of these building were painted by the same contractor with some staff common to all buildings.
+Allback claims their paint to be mildew-free.
I understand that it may be that the paint itself is not the food on which the mildew is feeding but it appears that there is something with the paint that allows spores to have some sort of symbiotic relationship. If the problem was caused by application error I want to know that. In a phone conversation this morning with the distributor he indicated that if we wash the building with the Linseed Soap EXTRA that should solve the problem and may be the end of it (as it was with a project in Norway, which he has referenced a few times). I hate to say it but if we had used modern petroleum paints in the first place we wouldn't be having this discussion. He seems to think that we have unlimited resources to be constantly working on these buildings. With the funding and manpower available to us we're fortunate if the crews can keep ahead of the grounds maintenance let alone washing down a building that was recently painted.
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jefinch



Joined: 02 Jan 2008
Posts: 34
Location: Elverson, PA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="jefinch]In a phone conversation this morning with the distributor he indicated that if we wash the building with the Linseed Soap EXTRA that should solve the problem.[/quote]

The soap has arrived and with it a set of printed directions. See the attachment.
A couple things of note:
+ The absence of any mention of the Interior Primer shellac as suggested by the distributor in a phone conversation.
+ #4 "Down the road if you have had serious mildew it can still migrate through the paint. Clean with regular linseed oil soap."
I still doubt that the linseed soap will kill mildew like a bleach solution or a few other products. My colleagues' problems have been microscopically analyzed and that showed that the mildew is not growing through the paint but on the outside surface.



LinSoapExtra directions.pdf
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Directions for preparation for painting using Linseed Soap EXTRA

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1957belve



Joined: 01 Dec 2009
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Location: United States

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:44 pm    Post subject: Allback Paint Reply with quote

Hi, I am also having mold problems with the organic linseed oil based Allback paint. The paint was applied to new plywood soffit and wood exterior doors. The mold appears to be feeding on the linseed oil itself.

The painter followed the instructions given. Applying the boiled purified linseed oil to the wood as a primer, then applying the paint in thin coats.
I am in New Orleans, La. and the climate here is very humid. I was assured that the paint is impervious to mold growth although there is no warranty.

I will take some pictures and post them here to help figure out a solution to this big problem.

I will help this forum in any way concerning this.

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