a painter and decorator

10 really fascinating things you never knew about paint


So you think you know what it is, how’s it’s made, where it’s used and all the different types? Perhaps not!

In this handy “all about” article, we look at paint, and suggest ten things that you probably didn’t know about this amazing stuff!

If you think you know it all about paint, read on!

Chances are you are interested in learning about paint, what paint is, famous uses of paint, info about painting things and some knowledge of the different types of paint, or else you wouldn’t have surfed onto this page!

Paint has been around since before modern times, in fact way back in history,  evidence abounds that paints, pigments and dyes have been used for centuries.

It’s not just the paint on the walls of your house, or on the doors, that are most common, but of course bridges, cars, trucks, lamp-posts, everything is covered with paint. So what facts are revealed here?

Well, did you know that the phrase “like painting the Forth Bridge” to indicate a never ending task is actually NOT TRUE!

Or did you know that the paint on the white house in America is actually known as “Whisper White“?

We like to think we know quite a bit about the coloured stuff, but did you know………

Ten things about paint that you probably never knew about

Fact #1: Yes Mr President!

The white house in Washington DC, the American seat of power and the official home of scores of US presidents, is white for a very good reason.

The white house, Washington DC.
The white house, Washington DC.

The original painting job was of lime wash, which is a compound paint that was naturally produced for hundreds of years and is still used on some cottages and listed buildings.

And you could only get it in white…….

The white house has not heard of the guys here at NEVER PAINT AGAIN UK because it has to be painted every year, which must cost an awful lot of taxpayers money,  in fact the white house museum says…

The entire White House exterior (trim and body) is painted with 570 gallons of Whisper White” exterior paint, made by Duron.

This has been released by the White House, and also the documentary series Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work shows the White House preparing for the visit of the Queen of England and touching up with Duron Exterior Alkyd/Oil Gloss labelled “Whisper – 248”.

Thirty-two layers of white paint (not likely all the same brand) were removed from the sandstone exterior in the 1992 renovation. Source: www.whitehousemuseum.org

Fact #2. Let’s think for a bit….

The Greek philosopher Plato is largely credited with discovering that if someone mixes 2 different colours of paint, it makes a 3rd colour!


In fact Plato stated that painting was “of the lower order of the arts” and is credited with recognising and making popular the various facets of architecture and how it can convey different messages such as wealth, status, humbleness and so on.

Well, fancy that!

Fact #3. Je M’appelle Monsieur “Ug!”

The very first interior decorators were resident, probably in what is now France, around 40,000 years ago!

It is believed that these primitive drawings on cave walls were done by stencils and depicted whatever scenes were familiar to them such as hunting, birds, animals and trees.

Many of these ancient painting are still in existence today, so the notion of a long life paint is not a new one! Much of these rudimentary paints were made from natural dyes found in plants, bones and even creepy-crawly bugs.

Surprisingly, some of these ingredients are still used in paint colouring procedures to this day, such as the “natural” (!?) red food colouring called Cochineal” which IS ALSO USED IN FOOD!  If I told you what modern day foods they appear in, you probably wouldn’t thank me for it.

So cavemen spent their time posting things on walls.

A bit like facebook….

Fact #4: True colours

The colours that paint come in are multitude now and a far cry from pre-war days where only a handful of paint colours were available.

Nowadays, the problem for many is the fact that there are TOO MANY colours to choose from.

Great Britain’s own Sir Isaac Newton got people thinking about colour and he was the first person to invent what is now known as the colour wheel.

This graphical item is an array of colours that Isaac’s work proved that colour was made up of light, and light itself is a mixture of colours rather like a rainbow.

Claude Boutet’s painter’s circle of 1708 was probably the first to be based on Newton’s circle.

Fact #5:  Looking up…….

It took celebrated painting genius and Renaissance man Michelangelo just a little over 4 years to paint the famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the 1500s, but it took 20 years to restore it in the late 1900’s!

Rather than call him “Mick”, his full name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, (go on, try and say it) (!) and his fresco works are considered to be the finest examples of Italian renaissance painting.

Naming one of the “Teenage mutant ninja turtles” after him, hundreds of years later, did little for his credibility amongst the young people of today.

Fact #6:  Gateway to San Francisco.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has always been painted the same colour since it was completed in 1937.

We are reliably informed that the name of the colour of the paint on the Golden gate bridge is called International Orange, although why I have no idea.


Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge. Source: Wikipedia


This amazing bridge was originally painted with a lead primer, rather like the red oxide primer commonly used for painting metal in the UK and a lead based top coating.

The bridge had an overhaul in the sixties and the paint was changed, as technology has moved on, to a rust proof Zinc silicate mixture and then a coat of paint on top of that.

It takes a team of 40 workers to maintain the golden gate bridge all year round, 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day. With lunch breaks.

Fact #7: Go forth and……

Speaking of bridges, The forth bridge, spanning the firth of forth between England and Scotland was opened on 4 March 1890, and spans a total length of 2,528.7 metres (8,296 ft).

It replaced a previous bridge that blew down in a gale, with a train still on the bridge, causing an awful loss of life and marked each year by the Tay Bridge Disaster memorial services.

It is actually an urban myth that the bridge is constantly being painted, however more recently the structure had an extensive refurbishment programme and workers applied a staggering 230,000 m2 of paint at a total cost of £130,000,000!!  The new paint should last 25 years.


Fact #8. How do you feel?

As we have previous learnt, the colour of paint can affect our moods.

The colour of a wall, or least the paint of wall covering on it, can make us feel different; happy, sad, relaxed, anxious, it’s all down to colour.

Colours that are vibrant such as Orange are meant to signify adventure, but also the feeling of being Spiritual and deep.

Buddhist monks wear orange robes for a reason!

Every colour can trigger certain feelings, conscious and subconscious, for example when we see RED, we think of DANGER so we take note. That is how colour affects your daily life without even realising it.

Fact #9: Let us pray.

In the Middle Ages, bibles, verses, scrolls and all those ancient manuscripts were painstakingly “illuminated” by hand, with paint made from ground semi-precious stones and egg yolks.

Paint colours in religion are very important and for hundreds of years, paint as in painting works of art were more or less the only paintings that anyone ever saw.

Depictions of religious figures, deities and moments in time were represented with paint, which became a very effective way of spreading the church’s message in a time when few people could read.

Fact #10: Give us your money!

I hope you enjoyed the above fun and true facts.

And now finally, here’s my obvious “plug” for my business, which supports this blog! 😉

Long life masonry paint is something that most homeowners simply dream of, and they carry on paying the same fella every year, increasing amounts of money to apply what is essentially coloured water on the outsides of people’s houses.

Technology has moved on since then and paint has evolved into a range of long life decorative wall coatings that repel the weather, the sort of thing such as rain and wind that make paint deteriorate.

So paint has ceased to be solely decorative, interpretive or indicative and has become a way of protecting not just houses, but also important buildings too, from the effect of the weather.

I hope that this article has taught you something about how important paint is to our everyday lives, and if you DID like it, then please SHARE this with all your friends.

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