|Integrally-colored (not painted) concrete is an old-timey|
material whose color mellows with age. Don't try to
"freshen up" the color by ruining it with paint.
Relying on paint for design impact is asking for failure. For one thing, paint is among the most transient of all building finishes. Unlike materials that patinate—such as wood, stone, and copper—paint’s durability is measured in years, not decades.
Despite this, many architects cavalierly specify complicated paint schemes that look great for a year or two, and then become a nightmare to maintain forever after. It’s a shortsighted design approach, with the built-in likelihood of owner neglect.
|The beautiful shade of verdigris on this copper roof will last|
literally centuries. It's about as close to permanent color
as you can get.
If color is important to your sense of design—as it ought to be—consider including it in ways that are either permanent, or at least are more easily maintained than coatings such as paint or stain. Some materials that hold their natural colors well, starting with the most low-key:
• Woods such as pine, cedar and redwood exhibit nice bright colors when freshly cut. Unfortunately, these colors won't last—all woods eventually weather to some shade between silver-gray and black, depending on species and climate. Embalming wood with preservatives or varnishes to maintain its fresh-sawn color isn’t the answer; it’ll only result in an ugly, mottled weathering pattern after the coating begins to wear off.
|Still think brick is a dull material? This architect—|
William Butterfield—didn't. The building is London's
All Saints Church, Margaret Street, c. 1852).
• Copper slowly weathers from an orange-brown to the blue-green shade known as verdegris, and will hold its color for centuries thereafter. Talk about a permanent coating.
|Stucco can be integrally colored|
in a whole rainbow of shades.
And you'll never paint your house
|The color in fired ceramic tile will last for centuries.|
And, there's an incredible range of tile to choose from.
• Ceramic tile, glazed brick, and glazed terra-cotta were very popular exterior finishes during the color-mad Art Deco era and are still available today, though to a lesser extent. The vivid colors of these materials are fired on much like the glaze on pottery, and are equally permanent. Tiles, in particular, make an inexpensive yet permanently colorfast decoration when set in stucco or concrete.