Traditional Swedish Oil Paint for Exteriors

Swedish House in Red

Swedish paint is one of the most popular exterior paints for wood because of its many positive features. It is easy to make and apply, inexpensive, usually covers in one coat, is eco-friendly, and incredibly durable.

This outdoor wood paint is as traditional for Swedish Cottages as Lime Wash is for European homes, and is now becoming more popular throughout the Western World. The harsh, wet Scandinavian climate is well known. Despite this extreme, this paint has a 10-15 year lifespan on wood with the longest for darker colors. The classic warmth of the reddish-brown color was obtained with a pigment known as "Falu-red", a by-product of copper mining in the region. When using a red pigment, use iron sulphate for this recipe to prevent algae growth. For other colors use zinc sulphate as it will not alter the color with age. Both are readily available at Home and Garden Centers.

Samples in selected pigments

Swedish Oil Paint Samples

Basic Recipe


  • Up to 2 Quarts Boiled Linseed Oil
  • 1 kilo (2 pounds, 2 ounces) Ferrous Sulfate or Zinc Sulfate (Found at Home and Garden Centers)
  • 6.5 gallons of boiling water
  • 1 kilo (2 pounds, 2 ounces) finely ground rye flour
  • 4 kilos (8 pounds, 8 ounces) red pigment or color of your choice

(Divide this recipe by 10 for approximately 2 ½ quarts of paint)

Boil 6.5 gallons of water. To this add the Iron Sulfate or Zinc Sulfate, depending upon the color used, and stir until dissolved. Add the rye flour*, cooking and stirring for 15 minutes. Then add your pigment powder, stirring and cooking for another 15 minutes to create a homogeneous mixture. Remove from heat and add linseed oil stirring well to create an emulsion. Linseed oil should make up no more than about 8% of the total volume. *Wheat flour may be substituted for the rye in this recipe, but may not possess the same strength.

Qualities: This is a matte paint that will dry in 2 hours and usually covers in one coat. Use only on rough, dry wood. It has a durability of 10 to 15 years with dark colors lasting longer than light ones.