Colour Ranges

May 9th, 2011 | | Colour Ranges | Paint Technical | No Comments

Parsons’ Decorative Finishes (4) – Gloss Enamel Finishes


Thomas Parsons' Gloss Samples 1

A previous post has already introduced the subject of a most useful work that was published in the 1930s – Parsons’ Decorative Finishes. Subsequently I have used it as a ‘prompt’ for posts dealing with Imitation Stone Paints and Permanent Greens.

Thomas Parsons' 'Decorative Finishes'

Thomas Parsons’ Decorative Finishes


The book is divided into 17 sections and it is the first three that will be considered in this post dealing with the gloss finishes offered by Thomas Parsons’ at this time. However, because of the number of them they will be split into two – this will deal with the Enamels and another will look at the Gloss Paints. The finishes in this post are:

1) Endelline Enamel;
2) Lacreite Enamel;
3) Parsons’ Half-Time Enamel, and
4) Parsolac Enamel.

Of course, the exact composition of these paints is not known and Thomas Parsons’ ceased trading nearly fifty years ago (a short account of the company’s history can be found HERE). However, an examination of a number of technical publications of the 1930s gives some indication of how these enamels were produced.

Enamel
Originally the word Enamel meant the fusing of powdered glass to a metal, glass or ceramic substrate. This was done by firing at high temperature, usually between 750 and 850 °C. The powder melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable and glossy coating.

Ein altes Emaille-Straßennamensschild in Ilmenau (Thüringen). Michael Sander (Wikipedia)

An Enamelled Street Sign



The word is now used rather loosely in the painting and decorating trade although in the early 20th century its meaning was more precise. It was applied specifically to paint made with a small amount of finely-ground pigment in a medium of linseed stand oil with or without the addition of resins. This sort of paint had poor opacity and was rather slow drying; however, it produced a very durable film of considerable smoothness and lustre. Such a paint was often labelled Dutch enamel.

Enamels were not easy to apply and as they set slowly, every effort had to be made to avoid dust. It was recommended that the floor of the room being painted was first washed. If the temperature was low the tin of enamel might be placed in a larger container of warm water in order to keep it free-flowing.

Enamels were designed to be used on a recommended undercoat and if skilfully applied would produce a perfectly smooth surface free from brush marks. A superior finish could be obtained if, after the enamel was dry, the surface was cut down with pumice powder and then hand polished with rotten-stone and olive oil. The last traces of oil were removed, after wiping off with a soft rag, by the application of pea flour. This gave a finish equal to any polished surface; it was very durable and would withstand considerable hard wear for many years.1

A distinction was drawn between these enamels and those paints with greater covering power that were made with a higher proportion of pigment in a varnish medium. The latter were given such names as hard gloss paint, Varnish Paint or full gloss paint. In today’s world of synthetic resins and highly opaque pigments there has ceased to be any clear-cut distinction between these materials and the term enamel is generally taken to imply a superior quality of full gloss finishing paint. I shall consider these other finishes in a later post. The Flat Enamels are also dealt with in another post

When Would One Use an Enamel?
Although there were several ways of achieving a glossy finish the quality of the different methods was quite apparent on examination. An enamel would give a more porcelain-like finish rather than the brilliant lustre of a good varnish. For that reason it was preferred for high quality work.

Section One
The first section of Parsons’ Decorative Finishes is headed Bill of Quantities and gives the framework for anyone wishing to specify the paints contained in the book.

Section Two
Explains where each of the Parsons’ finishes was best used and provides a Specification for New and Old Work.

a) ‘Endelline’ Enamel
Thomas Parsons' - Endelline Enamel
Endelline Enamel


This was the “highest known quality of enamel for producing a porcelain-like finish” that could be repeatedly washed “without deterioration”. It was recommended for the highest class of decoration, was extremely durable and suitable for interior and exterior use. Under normal conditions it dried in about 12 to 14 hours. The covering capacity was approximately 100 sq. yds. per gallon.

NEW WORK
Upon Wood –
Knot, Prime, Stop and apply:
a) Two coats of Parsons’ Body White Undercoating Paint,*
b) One coat of Undercoating ‘Endelline’, *
c) One coat of ‘Endelline’.

Upon Plaster or Composition Boards –
Assuming the plaster is thoroughly dry, i.e., no signs of free moisture on surface, apply:
a) One coat of Parsons’ ‘Unicote’ Primer,
b) Two coats of Parsons’ Body White Undercoating Paint,
c) One coat of Undercoating ‘Endelline’,
d) One coat of ‘Endelline’.

OLD WORK
Upon Wood or Plaster –
Prepare the ground and apply:
a) One or two coats of Undercoating ‘Endelline’, *
b) One coat of ‘Endelline’.

*If for outside work, specify ‘Outside Quality’.

Thomas Parsons' Gloss Samples 2

Gloss Samples – Page Two


b) ‘Lacreite’ Enamel
Lacreite Enamel


This was recommended when work would not bear the expense of ‘Endelline’. It could also be used for outside and inside work and covered approximately 90 sq. yds. per gallon.

NEW WORK
Upon Wood –
Knot, Prime, Stop and apply:
a) Two coats of Parsons’ Body White Undercoating Paint,*
b) One coat of Undercoating ‘Lacreite’, *
c) One coat of ‘Lacreite’.

Upon Plaster or Composition Boards –
Assuming the plaster is thoroughly dry, apply:
a) One coat of Parsons’ ‘Unicote’ Primer,
b) Two coats of Parsons’ Body White Undercoating Paint,
c) One coat of Undercoating ‘Lacreite’,
d) One coat of ‘Lacreite’.

OLD WORK
Upon Wood or Plaster –
Prepare ground and apply:
a) One or two coats of Undercoating ‘Lacreite’, *
b) One coat of ‘Lacreite’.

*If for outside work, specify ‘Outside Quality’.

c) ‘Half-Time’ Enamel
Thomas Parsons' - 'Half-Time Enamel'

‘Half-Time’ Enamel

This product dried in half the time of ordinary enamel, was easily applied and had exceptional powers of obliteration (such that an undercoating was not always essential). Both coats could be put on in a day and it had a covering capacity of approximately 90 sq. yds. per gallon. It was recommended principally for repainting business premises, cinemas, theatres, ships etc., where quick work was necessary to avoid interference with the ordinary routine.

These quick-drying enamels were based on medium oil length varnishes and in order to obtain the fast drying, the bulk of the oil was tung oil.2 The resin employed was either limed rosin or more usually a modified phenolic resin, which gives greater water resistance and durability.

The good obliterating power of this enamel suggests that the main pigment employed was the newly introduced titanium dioxide rather than the zinc oxide that was generally used in enamels.

NEW WORK
Upon Wood –
Knot, Prime, Stop and apply:
a) Two coats of Undercoating ‘Half-Time’ Enamel,
b) Two coats of ‘Half-Time’ Enamel.

Upon Plaster –
Assuming the plaster is thoroughly dry, apply:
a) One coat of Parsons’ ‘Unicote’ Primer,
b) One coat of Undercoating ‘Half-Time’ Enamel,
c) Two coats of ‘Half-Time’ Enamel.

OLD WORK
Make good the surface, smooth down and apply:
a) One or two coats of ‘Half-Time’ Enamel.

Thomas Parsons' - 'Half-Time' Enamel Samples

‘Half Time’ Enamel


d) ‘Parsolac’
Thomas Parsons' - Parsolac
‘Parsolac’


This paint was designed for interior and exterior use, and was very resistant to Ultra Violet rays. As a consequence it was suitable for shop fronts and dwelling-houses, especially in industrial districts where its hard smooth properties shed dirt and kept the surface cleaner and fresher longer than any other finish. It had a brilliant gloss and excellent obliterating power and one gallon would cover approximately 80 sq. yds.

The reference to it having been “very resistant to Ultra Violet rays” and the suggestion that the paint film retained its condition on exposure to weather even in towns or industrial atmospheres hints at the pigment being titanium dioxide.

NEW WORK
Upon Wood -
Knot, Prime (‘Parsolac’ Primer), stop up with hard stopping, and apply:
a) One coat of Undercoating ‘Parsolac’,
b) Two coats of Decorative ‘Parsolac’.

Upon Plaster -
a) One coat of ‘Parsolac’ Primer,
b) One coat of Undercoating ‘Parsolac’,
c) Two coats of Decorative ‘Parsolac’.

Upon Stone -
Similar treatment as for new plaster.

OLD WORK
If the old paint is in good condition, clean and paper down, etc., in the usual way and apply:
a) One coat of Undercoating ‘Parsolac’,
b) One or two coats of Decorative ‘Parsolac’.

IRONWORK
Clean down free from loose paint, dirt, grease and rust. Prime all bare places with Parsons’ Anti-rust Priming Paint, or ‘Rust-eeter’.* If unpainted ironwork, prime all over. When thoroughly hard apply:
a) One coat of Undercoating ‘Parsolac’,
b) One or two coats of Decorative ‘Parsolac’.
*For applying to rusty surfaces.
Note: Specify ‘Decorative Parsolac’ as a different type is supplied for Coach work.



Section Three
This section contains seven pages of colour samples. One of these pages, the Permanent Greens has already been dealt with. Two of the pages will be considered in future posts. The remaining four pages show the colours that were available from Thomas Parsons’ in a variety of gloss enamel finishes and these are shown throughout this post. For example, Page One.

Thomas Parsons' Gloss Samples 3

Gloss Samples – Page Three


1 I have carried out this process on a chimneypiece which I painted with a modern eggshell finish paint and it gives a magnificent surface rather like the shell of an egg.
2 Thomas Parsons & Sons claimed to have been one of the first manufacturers to use tung oil in place of linseed oil during World War I. By 1922 it was estimated that 75% of all architectural varnishes produced in Britain were made wholly or partly with tung oil. (Harriet Standeven. House Paints 1900-1960. Getty. 2011. p.22)

1930s Paint Colours
Should anyone want to use any of the paint colours shown on these colour cards Papers and Paints will be able to match them in most conventional finishes.



Papers and Paints can be found here for 1930s colours:


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