A Brief History of House Paint Color

Jun 26th, 2018

When choosing interior or exterior house paint, the myriad of hues and shades available makes it easy to find just the right color to accentuate the best features of your home and fit your unique personality and lifestyle. In the hunt for that perfect combination of colors, many people never give any thought to the fact that the concept of painting a home has been around for ages. As far back as 40 thousand years ago, the evidence points to the fact that early humans, although limited to fewer house paint color options, often applied paint to stone and other surfaces in order to brighten up their living spaces.

These “environmentally-friendly” paint products consisted of all natural ingredients, including soot, tree sap, colored clap, and organic by-products combined with blood and fatty oils from animals. Here is a quick history of housing painting over the years.

1200s – 1500s

Throughout history, artisans were commissioned to paint houses. The signs point to house painting as a trade going back to the early years of the 11th century. The house painting profession seems to have begun in the early 1200s. By the fourteenth century, house painter guilds began to gain popularity in England. The guilds — the Painter’s Company and the Stainer’s Company– set specific standards for house painting and established the field as a respected profession. The guild members treated their mixing techniques for creating the desired house paint color and painting skills as closely guarded secrets in order to protect their livelihood. The two organizations later merged, becoming the “Worshipful Company of Painters and Stainers.”

Colonial America

In early colonial America, Pilgrims avoided housing painting because they viewed the practice as a demonstration of arrogance, wealth and vanity. In 1630, a Charlestown preacher faced criminal charge of sacrilege after painting the interior of his home. Nonetheless, the demand for interior house painting grew.

During this era, the base material of oil and water were combined with an array of other materials, including lead, iron, copper, berries, fruits, and other ingredients to create a wide variety of types and colors of paint. The color options provided homeowners with the paints needed for walls, ceilings, cornices. The tools of the trade consisted of brushes with wooden handles–made from a variety of hairs. However, the thickness of the paint products made application somewhat challenging.

1700s – 1880s

In 1718, Marshall Smith’s “Machine for the Grinding of Colors” fueled the search for discovering the best method for grinding pigment materials effectively and manufacturing paint in a mill. By the mid 1800’s, linseed oil became the preferred binding agent, because it cost less and protected the painted wood. In 1866, Harry Sherwin, Alanson Osborn and Edward Williams formed the Sherwin, Williams, & Co of Cleveland, Ohio–the first company to produce ready to use paint. Later, Sherwin-Williams created the now familiar re-sealable tin can.

20th Century

Benjamin Moore actually opened its doors in 1833—a few decades before its chief competitor at the time and in the present – Sherwin-Williams. Throughout the 1900s, the paint company invested significant resources into the research and development of chemicals designed to improve the mixing of paint. In 1982, Benjamin Moore designed the computer based color-matching system, which has become an indispensable tool for house paint color selection.

Today, you have thousands of house paint color choices, which can increase the curb appeal on the exterior of your home and create the look and mood that you desire on the interior. Whether you have a residential or commercial painting project, make sure that you work with an experienced, knowledgeable, fast, and reliable painting crew. Contact MJPAINTING for a free, no-obligation estimate today.