Colour Ranges

May 9th, 2011 | | Colour Ranges | Paint Technical | 2 Comments

Parsons’ Decorative Finishes (5) – Gloss Finishes


Gloss Samples – Page Two


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, Permanent Greens and Gloss Enamel Finishes.

Parsons' Decorative Finishes - Cover
Thomas Parsons’ Decorative Finishes


The book is divided into 17 sections and it is the first three that will be considered in this post which looks at the gloss finishes offered by Thomas Parsons’ at the time. Some of these gloss finishes were classed as enamels and these have been discussed in an earlier post. In this second part I will cover the gloss paints themselves and these were:

1) Gloss Paint;
2) Anti-Corrosive Gloss Paint, and
3) Seaside Gloss Paint.

Gloss Paints
During the last forty years we have lost an understanding of the subtle differences between the various types of gloss paints and enamels. In spite of having already separated these main categories between two blog posts, it will be necessary to provide some words of explanation.

What used to be known as “plain painting” was invariably carried out with straight linseed oil paints, which provided what was known as an oil-gloss finish. These paints were usually based on white lead, tinted with colours ground in oil, driers added and the whole thinned to a working consistency with raw linseed oil and turpentine. The degree of gloss or sheen of the finish being determined by the amount of oil used; equal parts of oil and turpentine would generally produce a semi-gloss effect which, while being suitable for interior wall finishes, was not sufficiently weather-resisting for exterior work. A better gloss and weather resistance was provided by using boiled linseed oil instead of raw in the final coat, the ratio being 5 or 6 parts oil to 1 part turpentine. However, whilst the degree of “gloss” was quite high, it did not possess the brilliance of a “hard (or high) gloss” paint or varnish.

Oil-gloss finishes were used where a high gloss finish was considered unnecessary or too expensive. A mid-century source suggested that this might apply to rendered facades, cottage and farm buildings, iron railings, and the like. The application of this sort of paint was fairly straightforward and the brushing “easy”. The chief requirement was to brush it out well and to avoid thick coatings. The same source indicated that the use of these oil paints had declined noticeably in recent years, owing to the increased popularity of ready-mixed hard gloss paints and enamels.

As explained in the post on enamels, these were usually based on a linseed stand oil medium, sometimes with added resin. Hard gloss paints, on the other hand, were formulated on a short-oil or a long-oil mixing varnish according to the purpose for which it was intended, i.e. interior or exterior use. They dried overnight and hardened fairly rapidly. They were more viscous than ordinary oil paints and the brushing was consequently much more “tough”. Furthermore, the quick set and the properties of flow required considerable skill and judgement if first-class results were to be achieved. Cleanliness was essential in order to avoid dust, which would otherwise mar the end result.

An oil-gloss paint contained a high proportion of solid colouring matter and considerably less oil and turpentine; the result was a heavy paint of excellent obliterating qualities. On the other hand, with hard gloss paints equal weights of solid matter and varnish were combined to produce a glossier paint, but at the expense of obliterating capacity.

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.

Gloss Samples – Page One


a) Gloss Paint

Gloss Paint


This was sold as a general purpose gloss paint for exterior and interior work. It was particularly hard wearing and weather resistant and economical to use. Ready-tinted undercoating was supplied to suit the finishing colour. The covering capacity was approximately 90 sq. yds. per gallon.

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

Upon Plaster –
Assuming the plaster is dry,
a) One coat of Parsons’ ‘Unicote’ Primer,
b) Two coats of Parsons’ Undercoating Gloss Paint,
c) One coat of Parsons’ Gloss Paint.

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

b) Anti-Corrosive Gloss Paint

Anti-Corrosive Gloss Paint


This was a hard gloss paint with anti-rust properties that was designed for the protection of ironwork and other metal surfaces. Anti-Corrosive Paints was a generic term that was given to paints that were formulated with rust-inhibitive pigments.

NEW METAL WORK
Thoroughly clean all dirt and grease from the surface and apply:
a) One coat of Parsons’ Anti-Rust Priming Paint,
b) One or two coats of Parsons’ Undercoating Anti-Corrosive Gloss Paint,*
c) One coat of Parsons’ Anti-Corrosive Gloss Paint.

OLD METAL WORK
Remove all rust and loose or flaking paint and apply:
a) One coat of Parsons’ Anti-Rust Priming Paint or ‘Rust-eeter’,
b) One or two coats of Parsons’ Undercoating Anti-Corrosive Gloss Paint,*
c) One coat of Parsons’ Anti-Corrosive Gloss Paint.

*If for outside work, specify ‘Outside Quality’.
Rust-eeter is for applying to rusty surfaces

Gloss Samples – Page Three


c) Seaside Gloss
Seaside Gloss


As the name suggests, this was designed for use on buildings, piers, railings etc., that were exposed to moist sea air. It was the outcome of many years experience and research gained in manufacturing paints for protective purposes. The covering capacity was approximately 90 sq. yds. per gallon.

NEW WORK
Upon Wood –
Knot, Prime, Stop and apply:
a) Two coats of Parsons’ Undercoating Seaside Gloss Paint,
b) One coat of Parsons’ Seaside Gloss Paint.

OLD WORK
Upon Wood, Stone etc. -
Remove all loose paint, make good, rub down and apply:
a) One or two coats of Parsons’ Undercoating Seaside Gloss Paint,
b) One coat of Parsons’ Seaside Gloss Paint.

Upon Ironwork -
Clean free of dirt, grease, rust or old loose paint, and apply:
a) One coat of Parsons’ Anti-Rust Priming Paint or ‘Rust-eeter’,*
b) One coat of Parsons’ Undercoating Seaside Gloss Paint,
c) One coat of Parsons’ Seaside Gloss Paint.
*For applying to rusty surfaces.



Section Three
This section contains seven pages of colour samples. Two of these pages, the Permanent Greens and the Parsons’ ‘Half-Time’ Enamels have been dealt with in previous posts. Two of the pages are considered in other blogs (Antimonic Paint and Concrete Paint). The remaining three pages show the colours that were available from Thomas Parsons’ in a variety of gloss finishes and these can be seen at various levels within this post. For example, Page Two.

The aim when applying these high-gloss paints and enamels was to do so quickly but unhurriedly, and to secure even distribution without over-brushing. Excessively heavy coats were to be avoided since these would result in surface drying and subsequent wrinkling.

Developments continued to be made throughout the second half of the twentieth century and with the introduction of more sophisticated resins and processes the level of sheen increased and application became easier. Until the recent implementation of the EU’s Solvent Emissions Regulations it was generally possible for a non specialist to achieve a decent finish with a gloss paint. However, we now have the absurd situation where even an experienced decorator finds it difficult to produce a good result without adding the white spirit / turpentine substitute that the manufacturers have had to remove.

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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Comments (2)

Reply
Kirsten TraversNo Gravatar » 16. May, 2011

So helpful Patrick! Thanks for getting this out there!

Reply
PatrickNo Gravatar » 16. May, 2011

That’s okay. I think that by the time I have worked my way through the book I will be much clearer on paints from the period.