Things you need to know before painting with Farrow & Ball

I have been admiring dark interiors for a while now. If you are ever on Pinterest or Instagram you will have noticed dark interiors are everywhere!! I always thought dark colour would make the space look small and closed in, so I was always scared to use it in our home.  I then saw a photo on Instagram and fell in love with a colour.. It turned out to be Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball.

Image from Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors by Jane Rockett and Lucy St George, photography by Debi Treloar, published by Ryland Peters & Small.

I have painted so many rooms in my life and always kind of played it safe with lighter tones.  I promised myself I would be ‘braver‘ with my colour choices and since seeing this colour I could not get it out of my head.  The only problem was the price tag – as you know I love a good bargain and this paint is not the cheapest by far!

I bought my sample pot and painted a piece of paper and moved it around the room. I LOVED it, it was a lovely mixture between dark blue and green!

I finally took the plunge and bought the Estate Emulsion and ordered a tin of Estate Eggshell for the woodwork and radiator. My bank account cried for a moment, but I kept telling myself it will be worth it!

I prepped the walls and the paint was honestly lovely to work with, even the first coat covered the  wall nicely.

The second coat sealed the deal for me. I then turned my attention to woodwork and radiator. I was so happy to see the white monstrous radiator finally disappear as it ‘blended in’ with the wall.

After a few days I  started to panic…  the eggshell was still tacky.. WHY oh why?? I thought I had spent all this money and the paint was not even dry!! Then a few funny patches appeared on the walls.. I thought I was doomed – first time using this paint and everything went wrong.

Instead of trying to guess and remedy it myself, I got in touch with F&B customer services team, who gave me the following advice.

1. Estate Emulsion. Oily/wet looking patches on the walls.

Farrow & Ball kindly explained that this was called Surfactant Leaching (sounds like a disease doesn’t it?). Surfactants (an ingredient that is used to stabilize paints liquid form) usually evaporate readily from the paint film when the drying conditions are good or they are locked into the paint film.

Poor drying conditions include cold substrates, cool air temperatures, high humidity and a lack of air circulation/ventilation or any combination of these. Surfactant leaching is often encountered when a newly painted room is not given sufficient time to dry thoroughly before it is subjected to adverse conditions that can trigger the effect.

Remedial Advice

Rinsing with fresh water can help to wash it away. On interior surfaces, the leached material can be easily removed within a week (allow the paint film to fully cure and harden 2 weeks from painting) by washing with a mild soapy solution and a soft cloth or sponge, followed by a thorough rinse with clean water. Care must be exercised when washing to prevent damage to the soft or uncured paint film. Under severe conditions surfactant leaching may reappear once or twice until all the surfactant has been removed.

If the paint is washed off, the wall may require repainting.

2. Estate Eggshell.  Paint was still tacky even though it appeared dry!

Apparently this is also a normal occurence especially with darker paints.  I simply thought I had done something wrong and the paint had not dried.  I could not find any information why this was happening, but thankfully I was told that drying and curing is two totally different things. The paint may have dried, but it does not mean it has cured completely, hence the tacky feel… It could actually take up to 4 weeks to cure completely!! So if you are experiencing the same issues, don’t panic it can all be rectified!

P.S Go check out what I did with the paint tin when it was empty!!


19 thoughts on “Things you need to know before painting with Farrow & Ball

  1. Hi Evija,
    Thanks for this post (googled it), it explains my current problem well. I am using F&B Off Back Eggshell to paint a chest of drawers. As a lover of dark finishes, I usually use Railings, but fancied a change, and this has happened to my paint too! I was at a loss what to do, considered stripping it all back, having done undercoat and 3 coats, but I will now try this method. The customer will have to wait (I have already sold it). Funnily enough it has only occurred on the top flat surface, the rest is fine.
    Great advice and I will be sure to remember it.
    Thank you,

    1. Robert, thank you I’m glad it was helpful to you! I can confidently say the paint did cute and stopped being tacky .. funnily enough I never had any issues with modern eggshell in railings .. good luck !

      1. Hi Evija

        Interesting post as we have this problem and now I’ll use your advice also, I noticed that you mentioned painting the radiator, did you use modern eggshell? I’ve just started painting a small room, first ever attempt at decorating, and the white radiator either needs painting or changing. Obviously painting in with the wall would be the cheaper option ! PS I’ve just tried to subscribe without success?

        1. Hi Kim thank you for the comment sorry you had the same issues.. good news is eventually it works out ok !! I used eggshell on the radiators and again it took a while to cure properly I didn’t have radiators on for a good few weeks with Hague blue, when I used railings in modern eggshell it didn’t take as long .. paint stayed on and even with radiators on is ok ! Personally I would not recommend using emulsion on metal radiators .

  2. Thank you very much, very useful information I ve used Farrow and ball off black eggshell paint 2 weeks age and still seem to be tacky so thank you again I will wait another 2 weeks!

  3. Thanks Evija for this article. I have been tearing my hair out as have just had a new kitchen painted in Estate Eggshell Hague Blue and even after 17 days, if I wipe a piece of kitchen roll over the front of the cabinet or a pantry shelf, the colour comes off lightly on it and can be seen. F&B said they’d not heard of this before and asked me to contact their technical dept but due to Covid, they aren’t answering their phones. No email response yet either. How long did you have to leave yours? I am desperate to unpack into the beautiful looking pantry! Any advice would be really appreciated. Or should I do another layer in the modern eggshell if it takes less time to dry? Just wondered if the sheen will be much glossier if I do this. Thanks!

    1. Thank you Liz, I know exactly how you feel .. for some reason The Hague blue was a nightmare for me too.. did you use a primer ? Mine was probably tacky for over a month and then thankfully cured I must say it did mark easily too. I find modern eggshell a lot better than estate eggshell. To be honest even estate eggshell has a sheen and modern one isn’t too shiny plus it’s more durable we have it in railings all over the house and it’s great.. I would leave it until it has cured just be patient fingers crossed !

    2. I am having a very similar issue to you – we sprayed our kitchen with Hague Blue in Estate Eggshell and even 3 weeks later, the paint will come off with the slightest scratch or wipe. We prepped appropriately, used 2 layers of primer and applied 2 layers of F&B. Did your problem ever resolve? I am just wondering if it is worth waiting longer or starting again all together with a different paint.

      1. Hi Traci, I must say the wardrobe still marks a little but I try and wipe it with damp cloth. I much prefer modern eggshell to estate I’ve not had problems with railings in modern eggshell I must say .. good luck!

  4. Hi Evija,

    Was wondering whether you used a primer first? I have walls that are already primed with another brand but was hoping to use F&B on top.

    Thank you!

  5. Hi! I want to paint a room in Hague Blue. It’s summer. And it is going to get hot and probably humid. And the room is FULL OF STUFF that will have to be moved outside. Do fans help with the curing? I can’t imagine being able to leave all my stuff in the drive way for four weeks until I can move it back into place and install bookshelves et al that will also be the color of the walls… and also need to cure. Help!

    1. I don’t really know if the fan will help personally with curing because the paint does go dry to the touch just isn’t cured properly . If it’s too hot maybe it will help the drying process .. I also must say I prefer using modern eggshell to estate eggshell . I had curing problems with the estate but no issues with modern eggshell .. also the walls were absolutely fine I painted them and they dried pretty much straight away it’s the woodwork and radiators that took weeks to cure . Good luck !

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