The last time I let my university landlord paint my apartment, it took days to clear the furniture, and I was instructed to do no paint prep. There were peels coming down from the ceiling. The painters exploited this "paint is glue" theory by painting under the peels and pushing them flat. I channeled my desire to kill them on the spot by politely escorted them out in mid-job and never letting anyone paint for me again.
The next time I painted this apartment, I stripped the ceiling bare of its many poorly applied layers, and applied $500 of artist-grade acrylic primer and titanium white paint to the ceiling and walls. 15 years later, the apartment looks just-painted. Artist-grade acrylic paint is one of the best glues available, much more reliably so than oil paint.
In the years since, the best wall paints have come closer to artist-grade acrylic paints, and their glues are likely better tuned to typical conditions. Artist paint is more expensive and better. Carefully tuning a cheap glue is like botching an airplane hardware design and trying to fix it in software.
Later in a home, filling holes in contractor botched cabinet work, I started with artist-grade acrylic modeling putty, added just enough dye from the commercial paint manufacturer to match the existing cabinet paint, tweaked the gloss to also match, and created a one-step wood fill that disappeared into the existing paint job when dry. Much less shrinkage than commercial wood fills, and no primer or repainting needed. Again, acrylic art supplies making the best glue.
It’s pretty dismal. And broadly speaking, it's unsustainable.
I find it a sad statement that one suggests the primary reason for DIY is out of desperation - surely I am not alone in doing many home and auto maintenance tasks myself out of primarily the enjoyment and satisfaction of learning and executing a new skill? Sure, /r/DIWhy is full of examples of ill-advised and unsafe DIY attempts, typically in electrical, plumbing, and deck-laying, but that doesn't mean that we should discourage people from learning the basics of low-risk home maintenance such as painting, tiling, flooring, etc. On the contrary I believe the reward one feels from accomplishing such tasks oneself and with the help of friends or family can have a powerful positive emotional effect on society.
That's kind of misleading, because it ignores the value of your labor. You work more hours, and you get a lifestyle improvement that can be measured in dollars. You're not preventing costs, you're changing how you pay.
If that's optimal in your specific case then great! But it's easy to imagine a person where it's not optimal at all. If Bob saves $X for every hour he spends on his house, and Bob makes $3X at his job, and he's equally happy doing either kind of labor, then Bob is a fool to do multi-hour household jobs himself.
Using time to save dollars is a tool, one that can be used or misused. You want to optimize lifestyle vs. effort, not lifestyle vs. nominal salary.
Over the long term you can either find some freelancing hours or get a job that offers a different expectation of worked hours and a different amount of pay.
So if you're out of balance you can fix it to do more of the job you want and have more leisure hours too. Or less of the job you don't want.
If I had a job where more hours directly translated into more money, 1. I would drop DIY projects and 2. I would probably become a workaholic.
But few have the talent.
And that skill usually comes from making mistakes and screwing stuff up on a previous job.
And very few people are willing and able to do the homework.
Obviously DIY and the attendant issues are entirely absent from the industrial sector, which I spend most of my time frequenting.
I would argue that DIY is more equal to assume all risk.
I don't know the characteristics of acrylic artists' paint, but there might be reason to be careful.
One thing I've also been wondering about is if repainting every other year, even with vapor-open paints, would have a similar effect. So many rental properties just end up with layers and layers of paint.
Curious what you mean?
In my experience, new paint coats are needed because of marks left on walls -- accumulated smudges, scuffs, furniture bangs, nicks, filled anchor holes, etc. None of which higher-quality paint has anything to do with... I assume?
Am I wrong? Assuming paint is applied correctly in the first place, what are the longevity benefits of using a higher-quality paint?
And you MUST use special old paint that fades very quickly to be authentic.
I did not go through because the developers stuffed up and got sued by English heritage for months.
Additionally, art acrylics are typically very thick, to allow the artist a high degree of flexibility in application density, a flexibility that's just not needed for wall application. You correctly note that labor is the major cost for house repair. In light of that, it strikes me as silly to buy a bunch of extra-thick art paint and take the time to thinning it down the the appropriate consistency for wall application, instead of just buying a volume of paint that was already at the appropriate viscosity.
An acrylic-latex intended for outdoor use is going to be formulated to account for the fact that exterior surfaces see wider temperature swings in the summer and winter, and will be more flexible in its final cured form, reducing the flaking and cracking caused by the temperature-driven expansion and contraction that comes with the seasons. The formulation is also likely to account for the greater UV exposure its going to have outside. If you try to coat the exterior of your house with art paints, you're going to be spending a lot more money, it it might not last as long than if you used a paint intended for the purpose.
Now, if your goal in either scenario is art or aesthetics, than that's a completely separate discussion. If you want the wall of your house that faces the local park to be a mural highlighting fundamental truths of the human condition, more power to you. Though, in that case, you might do better to eschew pre-forumlated paints entirely, and instead buy the raw outdoor-use formulated resins and pigments yourself, and mix as appropriate.
> The last time I let my university landlord paint my apartment, it took days to clear the furniture, and I was instructed to do no paint prep. There were peels coming down from the ceiling. The painters exploited this "paint is glue" theory by painting under the peels and pushing them flat. I channeled my desire to kill them on the spot by politely escorted them out in mid-job and never letting anyone paint for me again.
Okay, that's just sloppy work. I'd have wanted to kill them too. When I was painting commercially, if I or my supervisors had caught anyone doing that, said slacker would be off the crew permanently.
I avoided the related "designer" question of choosing off-whites. I'm a math professor, and a grad student described these walls as like being "inside a stick of chalk" (Hagoromo, given the choice).
Pure white is a color mirror. Why does that corner look pink? There's a red object in that part of the room.
(I also distinctly remember being shocked by the size of some paintings, especially the crowning of Napoleon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_of_Napoleon_I#/medi...) This painting was printed in many of my history school books, but I was not even remotely aware that is nearly 10 meters wide.)
One of the great things about this painting is how it is a totally different experience at different distances. From a distance, the sense of right-to-left motion is palpable. Get closer, and figures seem to pop out of it. But really close, you can no longer see the entire painting, but you can see individual brushstrokes (mostly 3-6" house painting brushes, I think). The subtlety and detail of each stroke is extraordinary. There are patterns across the canvas that are a result of large-scale patterns of strokes - it's almost like cursive handwriting.
But, in a gallery, people encounter the Rothko and just stop. Many of them will stare at those large splotches of color for 1, 2, 5, even 10 minutes. Turns out there's a whole lot going on there that just doesn't translate into print.
Sadly, a lot of the techniques that abstract expressionists used don't translate well into the future, either. Layering just oil paint, that's pretty durable. Layering different kinds of paint, not so much. I've seen a fly dislodge a flake of paint from one of Rothko's paintings just by landing on it.
You may be interested in this video by the Getty Conservation Institute on the conservation of Mural:
PS: I just shamelessly throw in another excellent BBC documentary series here: How Buildings Learn, by Stewart Brand . I sometimes see it mentioned here on HN, but it cannot be mentioned too often. If you haven't seen it, please please do.
Those paintings are quite low-resolution on average, but it took me a while to figure out how they could add so much resolution where it mattered, and turns out it's because they have an entire extra dimension to vary things in.
And yet, it's the postal stamp-sized Mona Lisa that gets all the attention...
Sure, it's a good painting, but I personally find it to pale in comparison to the other works on display at the Louvre.
There is over 100 people in the painting being busy and only person looking outward directly towards Mona Lisa is Jesus looking surprised. Mona Lisa is looking directly at Jesus and smirks.
There are actually a few more people than just Jesus looking out towards Mona Lisa, some with amusing expressions. It is just a rather busy painting, so it can be hard to notice.
I learned that the actual painting was nearby in NYC at The Met. When a friend visited, I wanted one of my goals was to go to The Met and see the painting. I entered the American Wing close enough to closing time that I worried I may not find the painting in time. I started wandering, turned a corner, and sat dumfounded starting at the very thing I was looking for, sitting 21 feet in width at the end of the hall.
If you drag the image around, you notice that the water has different highlight points at different angles. If you would stand in front of this painting, your natural body movement (of even a tree before the window) would constantly change the lighting and almost certainly result in a very natural-looking water surface. I cannot imagine reproducing this digitally without it feeling "artificial" or "forced".
So give it 5 years, and you'll have it on your phone...
If there's one thing I've learned over the decades about computer technology, it's to never say "impossible" or "never"...
Eventually, what you once might have thought to be only in the realm of "big and expensive" inevitably becomes "cheap and commodity" in a far shorter time than you expect.
Or even just take ten million photos from almost the same spot, presenting the one that matches the user's subtle movements.
I've forwarded it to all of my colleagues and they'll all in stitches too. Because basically deep down we know this is the most succinct and relatable description of what we do with our lives. Try as we might to aggrandise things, this is the truth stripped bare.
Unvarnished truth, even. ;)
Paints are technically coatings and comprise a large and diverse industry of products for wide-ranging applications. Wall paint is very different than artist paint, which is very different than car paint, which is very different than the type of paint you might apply to pipes to prevent corrosion, etc..
Glue is an adhesive, and while the resins used to make adhesives may sometimes be the same resins used to make coatings (Gorilla glue is epoxy-based, and many floor coatings you walk over all day and never think about are epoxy-based as well), the actual products being used -- the can of paint or the stick of glue you buy at the store -- are formulated with resins, pigments, additives, binders, chain-extenders, fillers etc etc, that are specific to the product's unique application.
So basically, paint is not glue. Paints are coatings and glues are adhesives. Sure, paints have to adhere to their substrates, and adhesives must adhere to their sometimes very different substrates as well, but paint and glue are really totally different things. You could say that coatings and adhesives are both formulated polymeric systems, but you miss out on a lot of interesting subtlety that entire industries are based on when you say "paint is glue."
Bob Flexner wrote a book for wood finishers, Understanding Wood Finishing, that breaks down oil paint in simple terms for the rest of us:
Some oils (like linseed and walnut) are drying oils, and can be used as a finish on their own, but don't really form a hard film finish.
For that you need a varnish, which is an oil cooked with a resin.
Paint is a varnish with a pigment added.
That's different from an oil mixed with a pigment mentioned in the article, which is probably fundamentally similar to a straight oil in terms of its properties. Maybe somebody who paints with oil paints can weigh in?
His columns in Popular Woodworking and other woodworking magazines are worth a read, as is his book, if you're interested in understanding what you're really working with.
Tying this all back to the article, I'd disagree with the claim that paint is "colored glue". One typically doesn't glue things together with paint, though that is a sometimes unintended consequence of putting something on top of something else with an incompletely cured layer of finish. You certainly couldn't use e.g. linseed oil as a glue in a joint where oxygen isn't getting in readily like a mortise and tenon joint.
A discussion of oil vs varnish here:
basic linseed oil takes ~70 years to cure properly. pure linseed does, in time, a nice hard firm.
there are a number of plant oils for painting (saffron, sunflower, walnut, linseed, poppy: different dry rates and hardness rates), and there are a number of ways for treating them. Specifically we usually avoid plain boiled linseed oil, as it tends to yellow. That is, I believe, the common hardware store oil paint.
fundamentally - artist oils are engineered for divergent purposes than house oils.
resins are hugely variant - artists are usually suspicious of things that aren't engineered & tested to last > 50 years, so house painting probably has a much larger variety.
the pigments affect the oil dramatically. quinacridone pigments stay wet for days, if not weeks, whereas umbers (due to the manganese) will dry within 24 hours.
with respect to varnishes, that's not how oil painting artists think of varnishes: a traditional varnish is dammar resin dissolved into (pure) gum spirits of turpentine, laid on about 6 months after the painting is touch-dry. Today we typically use a acrylic varnish with a UV protectant, i.e, what's sold under the trade name "Gamvar". Such modern varnishes are designed to not link against the oil and permit stripping and reapplying to use as a protective layer.
it's technically correct to call oil paint colored glue, I think. But it's not useful to think of it that way. I think of it as "oily mud applied with a hairy stick" when I feel reductionist.
I love talking about artist oil paints, happy to answer any other questions.
Of course, that doesn't really mean that paints work as glues, but you can add pigment/dye to a lot of glues and get a workable paint. (workable in the sense that they will adhere and color. they may not have the consistency that makes them work well as a paint).
A friend of mine had his house repainted and the contractor farmed it out to some idiots. They painted all of the windows shut. No one noticed until after the paint had dried.
It's as solid a glue as you could want. :-)
(As anyone who's been sloppy and lazy with a can of paint knows.)
Maybe if you saturate the wood, let it dry, and then keep adding additional coats, you'd start to get one. But, in a world where varnish exists, I'm not sure why you'd do that unless you were trying to reproduce a period technique or something.
It's kind of like saying, tape.
Which tape? Easy peel? Or duct tape?
I imagine that this is possible because there is only one type of resin that's useful in this field. Or trade secrets...
The layering described there, is more about what blend modes are for, layering can also be quite dumb by itself. The roots of DTP software layers lie pretty much all in the necessities of print, not painting, where you have to have a layer per color anyway.
Wondering why the article stops short of the point, why (digital) reproduction of paintings is a lossy process in general, and especially for archiving. Total Appearance Capture systems exist but are rarely applied to paintings. A 2D-RGB raster can only represent the appearance of a light reflective object from a single angle und very specific ambient conditions. How a painting interacts with light in a room is a complex process of all kinds of optical phenomena (reflection, absorbtion, diffraction, refraction ...) as described in the arcticle.
Many of the old masters would paint a detailed, monochromatic underpainting, and glaze many layers of color on top of it. Definitely not a process used by people who want to finish quickly.
Rather helpful knowledge, when you just want to put a small piece over a blemish on the wall.
Or for seasoning cast iron! https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/5820-the-ultimate-w...
And then before anyone runs with that suggestion, it's actually not a great way to season cast iron - it turns brittle and the seasoning will chip away (experienced this myself, and then did research).
A great place to start for seasoning cast iron is on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/castiron/comments/5rhq9n/the_rcasti...
Even longer lasting is Buon fresco (the earliest form of fresco). This is essentially pigment painted into wet plaster. The paint is not a glue, rather a stain. Effectively the support and the paint are one.
Another interesting point is the difference between how light paint is applied to dark. Light paint is usually painted quite thickly, and for this reason is very good at reflecting light. This improves the upper registers of the painting. The last thing you want dark paint to do is reflect light. Thickly applied black paint takes on a very 'flat' look. An experienced oil painter would apply black paint as a very thin and 'dry' layer (dry = no or little medium). They are also likely to employ an underpainting layer of brown-red. Applied in this manner the darks have a profound depth. The end result is a profoundly wide dynamic range.
(Disclaimer: I am probably not the best gluemaker.)
> It's exactly the intricate expressiveness of oil paint that made Renaissance art so sensual and passionate
I'm not sure what that means for me personally.
So yeah, some paint is glue, some is not.
> The secret of oil paint, as mastered by our greatest artists
Nevertheless, an interesting read.
>Watercolor paint does it by drying, releasing water into the air through evaporation and leaving only the pigments on the page.
This is not glue.
Maybe the wider point was the more philosophical one: art binds our minds together, and therefore paintings are a kind of mind glue, figuratively ..