The Eternal Promise of Durable Latex Paint

A durable TRUE linseed oil based paint finish.

A durable TRUE linseed oil based paint finish.

John Learnard of The Color Alchemist of Glen Echo, Maryland notes that every year since he started in the finishing trade, the big paint manufacturers have been promising that the new and improved latex and acrylic paints developed in their labs outperform traditional oil based paint – – THIS TIME. The only problem with these assertions is that they were always proven false, in the field, a bitter lesson to the professional painters who applied them and put their name on the work. So in the spring of the following year, just like flocks of robins, the paint company reps were back in the paint stores, saying, essentially, “this time we really mean it.” He recalls attending one of these events, hosted by the paint company with free coffee, donuts and paint hats, where the rep said that acrylic beat oil because it had microscopic “doors” in it to let out moisture that formed in the wood. When John asked what happened when these ”doors” let moisture IN, he was declared a contrarian paint dinosaur, who would soon be swept away by the building tsunami of advances in industry technology. That was over thirty years ago and there are yet such dinosaurs among us, John among them. So, what is the motivation of the U.S. paint manufacturers for selling an unreliable product? There is a much greater profit margin in such a product as it is made almost entirely from petroleum rather than linseed oil and turpentine. And what has been their response to their predicament? To degrade their own “oil based” products by substituting alkyd synthetics, again, petroleum based, for linseed oil (flax) and mineral spirits for turpentine (pine). Instead of making the latex better, they made the “oil” worse, so now their promise is actually coming true. Finally and Hallelujah! John’s response? To go offshore to Fine Paints of Europe, a Dutch manufacturer with a base in Vermont, because they still use effective constituent materials. Quality materials means quality results, he promises.

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