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The white paint that yellows...

Painting a room can do more than make your walls look smarter: they can alter your mood, change the atmosphere and even lift your spirits... that's according to the new Dulux adverts. But their new ad campaign has unfortunately coincided with complaints about their Pure Brilliant White Gloss Paint. The paint that, according to some customers, does not do what it says on the tin.

Video: The white paint that yellows...

Dulux say they are on hand to help you make those all-important colour decisions and that includes the gloss paint they have available for wood and metal surfaces. If you opt for white, Dulux don't just tell you it is pure white, they promise it's going to be 'Brilliant' white.

But from doors and cabinets to bathroom cupboards, many customers have complained that within a matter of months Dulux's Pure Brilliant White Gloss paints have turned a rather unappealing shade of yellow.

John Chesters says, "It was if we'd chosen a different colour, we were horrified that within three months all the timber that we painted had turned yellow." John faced the prospect of having to redecorate so wrote to Dulux who then gave John vouchers for new paint and paid for decoration.

That was in 2010 but we are still getting complaints...

Colin Beare told us he painted his entire hall which totalled 11 doors, front and back, in Dulux Pure Brilliant White Satinwood, a job he started in February last year. Yet within a matter of weeks of painting Colin noticed that the paint had gone a cream colour. When Colin contacted Dulux, they eventually offered him five hundred pounds in compensation. But he didn't just want money. He wanted answers - and he got them. Dulux told Colin that in 2010 the whole paint industry were forced to make changes to the way they make paint and that the ensuing reformulations have meant that this yellowing process has been much swifter for some customers than they experienced prior to 2010.

So what are these changes that Dulux are referring to? Well, it was the EU that forced companies like Dulux to change their oil paints. For environmental reasons, it ordered paint manufacturers to reduce the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs in the paint.

Martin Horler, a Consultant in Decoration says, "To get rid of the VOCs or lower the VOCs you have to reduce the solvent, if you reduce the solvent you have to increase something else and so what they will have to do to keep it in liquid form will be to increase the drying oil which unfortunately causes more rapid yellowing of the paint."

Manufacturers are now required to place labels on paint tins stating what the VOC level is within the paint. But how are consumers meant to know how the VOC level will affect the paints performance?

We've learnt that another leading brand, Crown do place a message on one of their tins warning that yellowing could take place but there are no such warnings on Dulux tins, so their customers only become aware of the problem when it's too late.

When Michelle Antcliffe's woodwork yellowed, although she was given £100 in compensation and free paint, she was told by Dulux that there was an alternative paint she could use that wasn't prone to yellowing: a water-based, quick-drying gloss. Again, this was important information only found out when it was too late.

Perhaps if Dulux had made it known earlier, the steady drip, drip, drip of complaints to Watchdog would have dried up long ago.

Company Responses


A spokesperson for Dulux said:

In response to the item being aired by the BBC's Watchdog programme about Dulux Pure Brilliant White gloss and satinwood products discolouring under certain conditions:

We are sorry that we have disappointed a small number of our customers. We'd like to explain.

A piece of EU legislation was brought into effect on 1 January 2010 to reduce the amount of a particular type of solvent, known as 'VOCs', which were allowed to be in paint products.

This was because of the impact which VOCs have on the environment. As a sustainable company, we were fully supportive of the legislative change.

All manufacturers who had paint products with VOC levels higher than a certain level had to change their products to comply.

In changing the formulation, and despite rigorous testing, it became clear that in some conditions, early versions of the 'new' paint formulations were more prone to yellowing after application.

We addressed this issue in 2011 by reformulating our Pure Brilliant White gloss and satinwood paints.

We are confident that the performance and finish of these paints is comparable to the versions which we produced before the legislative changes came into effect.

To reiterate, we're sorry that some of our customers have been disappointed. We take customer satisfaction very seriously and will continue to deal with any issues which customers may have with these paints on a case by case basis.

If customers have any queries in relation to these paints then they should contact our Technical Advice Centre on 08444 817 817 or via email to the following address:

A spokesperson for Crown said:

Since the introduction of EU legislation in December 2010 which established new thresholds for VOC levels in paint, Crown Paints has started to phase in wording on its packaging to inform all customers about this legislation and the potential for yellowing in certain circumstances and conditions. This was rolled out across all relevant products throughout 2011 and is already available in many outlets.

Crown Paints has also continued to introduce alternative technologies, including Acrylic and Quick Dry Glosses, which are technically acknowledged for their improved whiteness in service.