What Paint Do You Use When Painting Historic Sites?

Maintaining and preserving historic sites, especially historic buildings, is notoriously difficult due to several issues. They include warped or decaying wood, lost or forgotten construction methods, little ventilation, high humidity, dampness, and pests, only to name a few.

Exterior painting in San Ramon, CA may address any of these issues. However, painting historic buildings requires extra care, which makes them notoriously challenging projects. Having the right knowledge about historic buildings and their paint products can help painters make clearer and more informed decisions. 

Historic buildings in San Ramon

San Ramon is located in Contra Costa County, inside the San Ramon Valley, and approximately 34 miles east of San Francisco. As what’s expected from a suburban city, San Ramon boasts city amenities while retaining its charming old-town character. 

San Ramon,CA is also home to natural wonders and offers stunning views of Mount Diablo. The combination of urban comforts, rural charm, and nature makes the city a popular weekend getaway destination, especially for the tired city slickers.

Like many other cities in the Bay Area, San Ramon is committed to preserving the remnants of its history, including historic buildings still standing. Many have been converted into business or office spaces, while a few have remained residential properties. Check out some of the historic buildings in and around San Ramon.

1) Glass House Museum – (21103 San Ramon Valley Boulevard)

Considered one of the Bay Area’s best-kept secrets, the Glass House Museum is a historic home built in 1877 and designed in Italianate Victorian architectural style. The impressive two-story, nine-room house was moved from its original location at Lora Nita Farm to the southern area of Forest Home Farms Park. Although modifications have been made, the house retains its original appearance and beauty.

2) San Ramon Chapel – (6601 Foxen Canyon Road)

San Ramon is a private, historic chapel built and consecrated in 1875. It is recognized for its outstanding white exterior and two steeples. The church is a prominent example of “the transition between the architecture of the old missions and the frame churches of American settlers,” according to California’s Office of Historic Preservation, and is included on the list of California Historical Landmarks.  

3) Museum of the San Ramon Valley – (205 Railroad Avenue, Danville)

Located in nearby Danville, the Museum of the San Ramon Valley is housed within a former train depot built in the late 19th century. The museum devotes itself to preserving and celebrating the history of Danville and San Ramon Valley. It also has a souvenir shop.

4) Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site – (1000 Kuss Road, Danville)

The Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site is situated near Danville, not too far from San Ramon. This historic site offers visitors a fascinating look at the life of playwright Eugene O’Neill. The property is the site of the “Tao House,” one of the last places O’Neill lived. The house displays many Oriental design elements, manifesting his interest in Asian art.

The Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site is recognized by the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, American National Historic Landmark, and U.S. National Historic Place. For fans of the only American Nobel Prize-winning playwright, they see this place as a “pilgrimage” site.

Some modern paints can damage historic and heritage buildings

 What Paint Do You Use When Painting Historic Sites

To avoid the expensive mistake of using the wrong paints for historic San Ramon buildings, gather pertinent information about them, including the paints used at the time of their construction.

Paints used in historic buildings differ from those used for modern commercial buildings. Using the wrong or incompatible paints will not only cost you time and money but may also cause damage to the building.

Older buildings need to be treated differently. Most historic structures are made of porous materials like wood (timber), brick, or plasters made from lime. Many modern paints are non-breathable, so using them on older buildings can lead to several potential surface problems, such as dampness, peeling, blistering, etc., and end up in overall physical deterioration.

What is “breathable” paint?

When the paint is “breathable,” water vapor can pass through the surface with minimal restriction. The basic purpose of breathable paints is to allow water to evaporate quickly and enable the surfaces to “breathe” naturally without trapping moisture. 

Why are non-breathable paints not compatible with historic buildings?

In general, today’s conventional paints – both latex and oil-based (alkyd) paints – are not totally breathable as they can limit or trap the passage of moisture vapor. Some manufacturers claim that their paints are “breathable,” but it’s just part of their marketing ploy. You should think twice before using these paints on older buildings for a couple of reasons:

  • Modern paints on older buildings can lead to various surface problems such as flaking, peeling, and cracking. 
  • Modern paints can lead to rotting timber.
  • Modern paints prevent moisture from escaping, which can exacerbate dampness problems underneath the surface. Excess moisture in older walls can ruin the overall aesthetics of the building.
  • Even low-VOC modern paints still release gasses that can be harmful to your health and indoor air quality.

The right types of paints for historic buildings

Professional painting contractors in San Ramon recommend good-quality clay and mineral paints or limewash paints for older buildings. These paints have a high level of breathability and will work fine with the materials of your historic home or commercial building. 

Another plus point for these paints is that they’re safe and environmentally friendly compared to traditional paints, so you don’t have to worry about inhaling toxic fumes.

If you choose clay or mineral paints, please take note that they should be used for interior painting only. They shouldn’t be used outdoors or in any areas with regular exposure to moisture (like bathrooms).

What Paint Do You Use When Painting Historic Sites

Here are some manufacturers that offer clay, mineral, or limewash paints:

  • Amorim
  • AFM Safecoat
  • Blissfully Clean
  • BioShield
  • Color Atelier
  • ECOS Paints
  • Kahrs
  • Limeworks
  • Romabio
  • Rubio Monocoat

Hire a painter near me in San Ramon to paint your historic home or building. You can rely on them to provide quality service at every stage of the project. Get a free quote now.