30 January, 2008

Original 1930s Paint Palette, 1 of 3: Porch and Deck Paint

Light Drab or Dark Lead? It's so hard to choose...

While puttering in the basement yesterday, I decided to take out a junky old cabinet in the work/tool room. None of us liked it, and had no intention of reutilizing it anywhere in the Box House. For now, it's in the garage, awaiting some decision as to its ultimate fate.

As we were wrenching it from the sheet rock, Ted noticed that on top of the cabinet was a collection of paint chip sample brochures from the 1930s. One of them was dated 1935, and I assume, from the style of the illustrations, the other two are from the same period. Sweet!

Those of you who are trying to restore your 1920s or 1930s home may find these palettes of interest. I plan to upload images from all three this week, and type in the accompanying text.

The first is for Florex Wood Cement: An Enamel Paint for Concrete and Wood Floors. It was distributed by the Wood-Davis Company at 1565 Sherman Ave , which today houses Vive le Crepe, a French-style bistro and creperie. There were other Wood-Davis locations at 4664 Lincoln in Chicago, 6316 Northwest Hwy., and 1318 N. Clark St. in Chicago.

Here's the text from the Florex brochure:

Quick Drying
One Coat Covers

For use on all surfaces--wood, concrete, metal, and composition inside and out. Let us tell you how small the expense will be to paint your basement or attic floor, porch, laundry--or any inside or outside surface.

Porch and Deck Enamel Paint

Floors, both inside and out, steps, and boat decks are necessarily subjected to an unusual amount of wear. Unless coated with a finish designed to withstand the constant abrasion from walking and moving of furniture, as well as exposure to the elements, floors and decks soon take on a very unsightly appearance.

Porch and Deck Enamel is scientifically prepared to withstand especially hard usage on wood, metal, or concrete surfaces. It forms a beautiful gloss that does not become dull from repeated washing and scrubbing.

Porch and Deck Enamel is a product of high gloss and extreme durability. Specially adapted for garage floors, porch floors, hospitals, offices, factories, etc. It comes ready for use, drying hard over night.

General Directions

The surface must be thoroughly dry and free from loose paint, grease, and dirt. Brush the paint out thoroughly in thin even coats. Make certain that each coat is perfectly hard and dry before applying the next coat.

*New Floors: To obtain best results, use three coats of paint. First coat should be thinned according to instructions on the label. Apply the second and third coats without thinning.

*For Previously Painted Wood Floors: Bare spots should be touched up with paint thinned as for "New Floors." Sandpaper the surface well when dry, then apply one or two coats without thinning. If there are cracks between the boards, fill these with Paste Wood Filler after the first coat of enamel has been applied.

*For New Concrete Floors: Important--Do not paint concrete floors when they are cold, or when the room is cold and wet. This condition will retard the drying of the enamel.

Cement floors that have been laid directly on the ground without the proper drainage rarely present an ideal surface for painting, because moisture will cause it to remain in a tacky condition. The surface should also be free from alkali, as an alkaline surface will prevent the enamel from drying.

Test for Alkalinity

Wet various spots of the floor with water and place a piece of litmus paper on each spot. Allow to stand for a few minutes and if litmus turns blue, it is an indication that there is alkali present. In such cases, the alkali should be neutralized by applying a wash coat of three pounds of Zinc Sulphate to the gallon of water. Let dry thoroughly (at least three days) after which brush the surface carefully to remove any remaining crystals.

*For previously painted concrete floors: Touch up any bare spots as directed for new concrete. When thoroughly dry, apply one or two coats without thinning.

Paint techniques don't seem to have changed that much--except for maybe the alkaline test!

Color 227 Battleship Gray is the exact color used in our back stairwell/porches. (The flash makes it look lighter in the picture.) The porches are enclosed, but not heated, and the interior wall surfaces and decks are this very shade. Do you think it's possible the paint job dates back to the 1930s? Or have previous owners just used the same color over and over? It doesn't really look like there are too many coats of paint.

On one of our errands this week, we stopped at a Sherwin-Williams paint store to pick up a few of their interior preservation palette samples, which I first discovered after reading Chicago Two-Flat's description of using Bunglehouse Blue for their door. They are an excellent source for reproducing period interiors. Here are links to find the palettes on the Sherwin-Williams site:

The warmth and charm of the 1800s that's just as beautiful today.

Arts & Crafts
Return to the basic lines and balance inspired by the Arts & Crafts style of the 1900s.

The intricate delicacy of the Victorian decorative style.

The Jazz Age
A palette of contrasts captures the vintage look of the 1920s.

Streamlined Years
Warm, personal hues evoke the simple sophistication of the 1930s.

Suburban Modern
An optimistic outlook reflected in the cheerful colors of the 1950s.


Anonymous said...

I think my basement floor is painted with that dark lead color! Really, who thought of these names? Thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

Cool find!

Mika said...

Very fun finds. Isn't it always fun to go back and read old things like that. Makes me wonder what people will be thinking of the stuff we wrote. :)

Jennifer said...

How fun! What a neat find.