Paint

This is the ‘whitest’ white paint ever created – and it could help fight climate change

Why we should all be painting our house in the new ‘ultra-white’ paint…

Whitest white paint
(Image credit: Lynn Vdbr/Unsplash)

If you love a white exterior, not only do you have good taste (in our humble opinion), but you could also – in future – contribute towards turning back the tide on climate change. This week, it was announced that the whitest paint ever has been created by scientists – in a bid to save energy and help fight climate change. 

Researchers at Purdue University say their ‘ultra-white’ paint reflects more than 98% of sunlight, and could be used to help keep houses cool instead of air conditioning.

Commercial white paint typically gets warmer instead of cooler. Paints on the market that are designed to reject heat reflect only 80%-90% of sunlight and can’t make surfaces cooler than their surroundings.

According to Purdue.edu's Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering, 'If you were to use this paint to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet, we estimate that you could get a cooling power of 10 kilowatts. That’s more powerful than the central air conditioners used by most houses.'

whitest paint ever

(Image credit: Purdue University/Jared Pike)

But what makes it so white? The paint has a very high concentration of barium sulphate, the same chemical compound that turns photo paper white. They also used different sized particles in the paint to scatter the light more efficiently. 

Not only is it the whitest white paint ever, it's also the coolest. The paint can keep surfaces 19°F cooler than their ambient surroundings at night. It can also cool surfaces 8°F below their surroundings under strong sunlight during noon hours.

See: Decorating with white – 10 pure, fresh and oh-so sophisticated ideas

A report by the BBC says that 'cool' white roofs are already being used in New York in a bid to help fight climate change, and more than 10 million square feet of rooftops have been painted white. California has also updated its building codes to push cool roofs.

Whitest white paint

(Image credit: SPAN Architecture & Viewpoint.co.il)

See: 5 secrets to choosing the best white paint shade – the experts advise

The report adds that researchers are now working with a company to produce and sell the paint commercially, and that it would be a similar price to paints that are currently available. So it could be appearing on the walls of houses and decorating white kitchens in the not too distant future.

See more about eco home improvements in our dedicated guide.

Ruth Doherty

Ruth Doherty is an interiors writer who has worked for Homes & Gardens and Ideal Home magazines among many others.