House Paint 1920s
Lead paint had widespread usage in the colonial days. In 1786 Ben Franklin wrote a letter to a friend warning of the health dangers of lead paint. In America lead paint’s usage peaked in the 1920s. In those days the painters took a bag of lead powder and mixed it into the solvents and pigments while inhaling clouds of lead dust. Many painters died young from unknown illnesses known in the trades as “Painter’s disease.” It took many years of knowing the hazards of lead, before science and the political will overcame the lead paint manufacturer’s lobby, when in 1978 the government finally outlawed the use of lead paint completely. Now many of the old historic homes are still caked with layers of lead, it was a very tough and durable coating: Lead paint jobs were known to last twenty years.
House Paint 1980s
Latex coatings, developed in the 1940s, came onto the scene as a clean option for homeowners, but was widely considered inferior by tradesmen and homeowners alike. When I began painting in the early 1980s, the gold standard for house paint was enamel or oil. The paint was fumy, messy to work with, slow to dry, and hard to clean. Still, in the 1980s the data showed that latex had better color retention, more resistance to chalking, blistering, and fading: An all-around better performance than oil for general exterior applications. It took over a decade for the data work its way into the minds of the tradesmen and the general public. Now oil exterior house paint is no longer manufactured for general use.
House Paint 2018
In 2018 the only commonly used oils in exterior house paint were the primers. Despite many of the advances in latex paint, only oil primer will block the tanning bleed—a resin inside the wood and stains the coating—from rising to the surface. Once the paint manufacturers solve the problem of tanning bleed with latex, there’ll be little need for oil, except as a specialty finish. Now all the advances in coatings most of the new technology is geared toward latex paint. This is not only good for the painter, the homeowner, and the environment, but it allows for the most clean and efficient application, with long lasting results.