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Oil Paint For Walls
( Originally Published 1935 )
Oil paint is a very satisfactory wall finish, as it can be made any desired color. It can be applied to plaster, wood, fabric, metal, and other surfaces that are not waxed. If the plaster is imperfect, a fine canvas covering should be put over it before it is painted. Oil paint can be put over other paint or over varnish, although it does not wear as well over varnish, which should be washed with lye or ammonia water before it is painted. A coat of sealer paint should be applied over stain before paint is put on. Flat paint, which is either dull or satiny in finish, is most desirable for walls. Gloss and enamel paints are shiny and are used most in kitchens and bathrooms. Even if flat paint is used on the walls, it is well to apply a semi-gloss paint on the wood trim and doors because it is more resistant to soil and wear.
In painting interior walls the first step is to put on a coat of sealer or sizing, if it is needed, in order to prevent undue absorption of paint. The first coat can be made of white under-coater paint mixed with pure oil colors to get the hue desired. This under coat may be somewhat experimental as it need not be exactly like the final color. Next should come one or two coats of interior paint colored to suit. For a more glossy, durable finish, enamel the same color as the under coat should be used. If a wall finish is too soft or likely to rub off, a thin coat of varnish can be added for protection.
A stipple finish is an ordinary paint finish that, while still wet, is dabbed with a stiff clean brush that removes the shine and some of the paint. Spatterwork is made by spattering one or two colors upon the background coat while it is wet. Very good taste is necessary in the selection of colors for spatterwork.
Oil paint has the advantage of cleaning easily. Sometimes a thin coat of starch is put over a newly painted wall; then when the wall is soiled, the starch is washed off and clean starch applied.
Glazes. Oil painted walls can be made quite subtle by the use of glazes. The effect of one color shining through another gives a richness obtainable in no other way. Often the glazes are just off the underneath color, for example a green base might have a blue-green glaze. The more closely the colors are related in value the more successful a glaze will be. A color that is too brilliant or one that is too light can be improved by glazing. Sometimes glazes are fashionable and sometimes not, but that should make no difference to anyone who enjoys beauty. In fact, it would be more interesting to have a glazed wall when it was not common. Paint shops sell both ready-mixed glazes and the ingredients for glazes.
Water Color (Calcimine). Water-color paint or calcimine, as it is more often called, has several advantages over other wall and ceiling coverings. It costs much less, is quickly applied, and dries at once. Calcimine can be applied over plaster or wall board that is in first-class condition. Certain kinds of calcimine can be used even on painted or stained wood. Water-color paint of any kind can not be washed for it dissolves in water.
Water colors can be mixed to produce almost any color, but the warm colors look better than the cool ones, which sometimes appear chalky. Gray is an exception to this rule, however. When ready-mixed colors in calcimine are not bright enough, more intense dry colors can be added to them. The paint shops supply the dry colors and also a glue that should be used with them.
Plain colored walls of paper or calcimine, if they are perfectly clean, can be given a pleasing shimmery effect by stippling with calcimine in different colors. The colors used together must be nearly alike in value. For cool schemes pale blue and green on gray, or pale blue-green and violet on white, are good. Warm schemes might include pale henna and orange on a yellow background. Stippling has to be done by an expert workman, using a sponge roller.