Paints In History

Surface decoration has been popular throughout the ages. Stone Age cave painters used paints based on binders of fat, blood and beeswax, using chalk, soot and different earth colours as pigments. Similar paints were also used for Egyptian fresco paintings about 5000 years ago. Old Hebrew writings describe how casein was stored in the form of curd until the annual visit of the painter during the autumn; at harvest festivals, everything should be newly painted. In Pompeii, paint mixtures of chalk, soap, wax, pigment and water have been found.

It is generally assumed that the exteriorof timber buildings remained untreated upto the late Middle Ages. However, as wealthier citizens began to have panelling installed in their houses at the end of the seventeenth century, surface treatment also became more usual.The first coloured tar paints were introduced at this time. The objective of painting was most often to make timber buildings look like stone or brick.The pigments were expensive, with the exception of the earth pigments red ochre and yellow ochre, which aftera while dominated the houses of craftsmen and farmers.

Around 1700, linseed oil came into use. During the nineteenth century many old and new pigments were produced chemically. Painting a house became cheaper, and colours other than red and yellow, such as zinc white, became available to everybody. At this time, everyone had untreated floors, although sand was used for scouring. Floor painting began around 1820. From the middle ofthetwentieth century, very rapid developments led to latex paint and alkyd paints, based on raw materials of fossil origin.

The nature of the paint trade has changed a great deal over the last 100 years. During the nineteenth century, painters prepared the pigments themselves from raw materials. Even as late as the 1960s, most painters mixed paints themselves, although ready-mixed paints had been on the market since the end of the nineteenth century. These days, everything is industrialized, including parts of the application, particularly for windows, doors and outside panelling.

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