Manufacturer and builder 6, 1878
The idea of coating perishable materials with a substance which would make them comparatively imperishable, is by no means a new one. From the earliest times we find, particularly on the outside of buildings, various materials employed for that purpose. Cement, plaster, bituminous substances, and paint, have been used, more or less successfully, to preserve materials which would become injured by exposure to the atmosphere or to keep out cold and damp. Pitch, we learn, was used to preserve the timber of Noah's Ark, while the most primitive habitations, formed of sticks and brushwood, were daubed with mud as a preservative, and as a protection against the weather. Paint, in various forms, has, for ages, been used as a preservative of wood, iron and stone, both within and without buildings, but there has been great diversity in its character. Some of the colorings of the ancients remain not very much the worse for the centuries they have existed; but who shall say the same of many of the paints of the present day? True, we have a variable climate, which has a destructive effect upon all substances, whereas the paint of the ancients was always in a tolerably dry atmosphere. This being the case, therefore, Americans require a much better and more durable preservative for their dwellings than the Assyrians and Ninevihites, but experience shows such has not been the case. A house may be newly painted in the Spring, but in six months it often bears but little apprearance of its transient gaiety. This is owing to the basis of the paint being a subcarbonate of lead, or, as it is more familiarly known, white lead. The peculiar particles of matter which pervade to the air, of crowded places in particular, have an effect upon the coating of lead spread over the surface of the material covered, so great as frequently to turn what was nearly white into a dull leaden tint.
It is somewhat strange that architects, builders and decorators, should blindly keep to this old mixture, when there is so little to be said in its favor. We can understand and unsatisfactory article being used so long as it is simply "Hobson's choice;" but when it is known that silicate paint is better, more durable, and cheaper than any other, it is marvellous why the while lead paint, with its odor, and its unsatisfactory properties, should not be abandoned. We strongly believe that the cause is to be attributed to ignorance on the part of the public as to the virtues of the silicate paints, and we, therefore, desire to call the special attention of managers of hospitals, infirmaries, schools, work-houses and local authotiries generally to this material.
Several years ago Mr. Griffith, of Liverpool, conceived and carried out the idea of producing a paint which, in lieu of white lead, has a basis of flint, prepapred in a peculiar manner from a very choice formation of silica. This has been brought into the market by the Silicate Paint company, and it has fully borne out the hopes of its inventor.
In enumerating the advantages of this paint, the one which stands pre-eminent, is that of health. Every one knows the effect white lead has on the human system. A long course of habit accustoms painters to its unpleasant odors, but they occasionally suffer from that particular form of colic hwich is induced by paint. Other people experience nausea, spasma and inflammation of the alimentary canal more or less developed; in fact, there is a mild poisoning by lead. The silicate paints produce no such effects, but are inodorous and inocuous. Although most people like to see their houses painted up, few can endure the prolonged smell, the slow drying, the subsequent, in some cases, varnishing, all of which cause a newly painted interior to be unbearable for several weeks. Therefore, many people prefer to cover their walls with paper, which, in many instances, contains noxious properties, not perhaps, as self-asserting but equally injurious to health. The silicate paint therefore is a great acquisition. It dries quickly, throws off no deleterious or unpleasant odors, requires no varnish, and being cheaper than other paints, can take the place of paper usually found in the houses. What is more pleasing to the eye, and better for the health, than a painted wall with a dado of a different shade. As the paint is virtually an enamel, it can be cleaned and washed so as to free it from dirt or the germs of infection.
As a water-proofing substance the "Petrifying Liquid Silicate Enamel Paints" are claimed to be very effectual. The outside of a building coated with either of these is also claimed to be thoroughly impervious to rain and damp. At the present time, when the quality of building materials is left to the questionable decision of the builder, nothing is more frequent than to see water trickling down the inside of a room after a strong rain has been beating on the outside, the water having penetrated the brick-work. It is claimed that had such inferior bricks been properly pastered over, and coated with either of the above-named preparations, not a drop of rain would penetrate.
The durability and preservative qualities of the silicate paint are said to be very great. Ordinary oil paints do not effectually guard iron and wood agains the atmosphere. When the oil has dried the surface becomes cracked, and the wood decays or the iron corrodes. White lead is no better protection; for the small quantity of oxygen it contains comines with the iron, and rust being formed, a blister is raised and the metal is soon exposed to the air. On the other hand, the silicate paint forms a glaze over the surface, and it is claimed never cracks, but has a permnent appearance of being varnished. The hardness is said to be so great that it requires a temperature of 500 degrees and upwards t oblisher or destroy it, and this helps to make buildings more fire-proof. Another claim is that one coating of silicate paint is said to be very serviceable, particularly that under water, such as ships' bottoms. In short, it is largely used by the Admiralty, the Cunard, Goole, and West India and Pacific Shipping Companies. It is also used in the Woolwich Arsenal, by several gas companies and railway companies, but the small villa, the mansion, the infirmary or workhouse, might be painted with silicate paint. In local government institution much painting is done by the inmates, and as this paint is mixed and laid on in the ordinary way, there is no reason why it should not be used in these establishments, particularly as we have hinted a smaller expenditure would be incurred.
We may sum up briefly the claims of the silicate paint. It is a promoter of health and comfort; it has no chemical action on iron or other metals; it is of a petrifying nature, setting quickly as hard as marble; it is ready prepared; it will stand over 500 degrees of heat without injury; it is, in point of fact, virually indestructible and shows great economy over lead paints. Our climate should give the Silicate Paint company's productions an impartial trial. They can be obtained of Mr. Howard Fleming, 10 Pine street, New York, who is sole agent for the United States.