Plastic or mastic coverings for exterior walls of houses


Material Information

Plastic or mastic coverings for exterior walls of houses
Series Title:
Report ;
Physical Description:
3 p. : ; 27 cm.
Browne, F. L
Forest Products Laboratory (U.S.)
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory
Place of Publication:
Madison, Wis
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Siding (Building materials)   ( lcsh )
Exterior walls   ( lcsh )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
by F.L. Browne.
General Note:
Caption title.
General Note:
"December 1952."

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 029197722
oclc - 231753754
System ID:

Full Text



F. L, BRY'VNE, Chemist
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''' V F ducts LaboratoryA Forest Service
FCF 2 :. U. t.. S. Department of Agriculture

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Home owners in many parts of the United States are--'Bing solicited through
newspaper and direet-mail advertising to employ applicatorss" to Coe-r--the
aide walls of their houses with a plastic or mastic material that will "end
painting forever," The material itself is not sold to the public or to
painting: contractors; the "applicator" must be hired to put it on, although
he often hires a commercial spray painter in the neighborhood to do it, As
a rule, the advertising insists that the material is not a paint, although
it is applied by spray guns just like paint. It is often called plastic
siding. The covering is said to be as much as 10 or even 15 times as thick
as a coat of paint, or to be 5/64 inch (78 mils) thick. Actual jobs observed
however, have usually been nearer 20 mils thick, which is 4 to 5 times the
thickness of a good coating of ordinary house paint. Besides extraordinary
durability with no paint maintenance, the advertising commonly claims hieh
thermal insulation and complete immunity to weather, fire) decay, and termites.

Applicators offer to put the plastic covering over wood siding, shingles,
shakes, masonry, or metal, even if the surfaces have been painted previously,
The principal sales so far seem to have been for houses on which there have
been repeated failures of ordinary paints that have caused the owners to lose
confidence in paint and to seek some alternative to it. House owners with
troublesome paint problems should consider carefully the position in which
they will find themselves if the claims made for the plastic covering prove
no more reliable than the much less extravagant promises that were made for
the ordinary house paints they have been using. If removal of 5 mils of
paint is now considered prohibitively expensive, what will be the cost later
on of removing an additional 20 mils of plastic material?

Competent technologists know of no way in which the ability of an entirely
new product to do all that is claimed for the plastic coverings could be
reliably determined by either the maker or by testing laboratories in the
few years that have elapsed since they are alleged to have been invented.
Moreover, there should always be grave doubts about radically new products
that are offered to the public without qualifications before technical data
to prove their worth has been published in the professional journals. The
insistence in the advertising that the plastic coverings are not paints,

-Maintained at Madison, 1Iis., in cooperation with the University of "Jisconsin.

Rept, No. R1937 -- December 1952



when in composition and in use they clearly are paints, affords good reason
or skepticism about other claims made for them. Accordingly, Better Business
Bureaus, the National Painters' Magazine, the National Paint, Varnish, and
Lacquer Association, and other experienced agencies agree in advising great
caution about acceptance of the plastic coverings.

It is sometimes claimed that the plastic coverings were used by the armed
services during the war. It is true that a thick coating of paint containing
ground cork or other insulating material was applied on cold-water pipes to
minimize sweating when more effective pipe coverings could not be used.
There are, however, no published records of any uses of plastic coverings
by the armed forces that would furnish evidence of their ability to give
lifetime service on the exteriors of wood houses.

Sowe of the advertising of plastic coverings offers nicely printed guarantees
of 0-Oyear or even 20-year service. House owners should read such guarantees
carefully to see exactly what, if anything, is promised if the performance of
the product proves unsatisfactory. They should also consider carefully what
assurance there is that the applicator will still be in business under the
same corporate name 5 or 10 years from now.

Experienced paint men know that the chances of good performance decrease
rapidly as the thickness of a coating increases beyond an optimum of -bout
5 mils. Wood can be reliably covered with thick layers of plastic of various
kinds if it is done on clean, new wood under the controlled conditions of
factory operations, but such favorable conditions rarely occur in working
with old houses at the site. Often the chief reason for the paint failures
that lead a house owner to become allured by the claims for plastic coverings
is excessive thickness of the coating already on the house, which results
from too frequent or too generous repainting. It would be indeed surprising
if, after removing only the loose paint from such surfaces, reliable perform-
ance could be obtained by covering the surface with an additional 20 mils or
more of new coating of any kind. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that the
old paint left underneath is itself chemically stable, for when shut off from
light and air by subsequent coatings, old brittle paint sometimes softens and
reliquefies. One kind of paint blistering often seen on older houses, in
which a glossy, varnishlike layer is found under the blisters, comes from such
reliquefaction of very old paint. The same sort of deterioration of old
paint would be expected to go on under a plastic covering.

Another frequent cause of early paint failures is the entrance of excessive
moisture into side walls of houses from time to time. The water may come
from inside the 'house as condensation during cold weather, or it may come
from outside when storm water penetrates through leaks of one kind or
another. Such cases require proper corrective measures to keep the side
walls dry, for the harm done to the paint may be relatively unimportant in
comparison with the loosening and possible decay of the structural members
of the house that may eventually take place if the condition is allowed to
continue. Merely covering the outside with a thick plastic coating that
retards drying out of the side walls even more than ordinary paint does,
may well serve to hasten permanent damage to the structure,

Pept. No. R1937

Wood houses can be kept well painted with ordinary house paints of good
quality for many decades without encountering serious trouble with peeling
and scaling. In all parts of the United States houses can he found that
were built in pioneer times, remain standing, and have a continuous history
of successful paint maintenance, with the intervals between at
least 6 or 8 years apart, on the average. There is no reason why such
successful past experience cannot be enjoyed in the future provided any
faulty conditions in present houses are corrected, paints as reliable as
those of former times are used, and reasonable practices of application
and maintenance are followed. House owners who are having troubles with
paint, will be wise to determine the reasons for their difficulties and to
correct them by following procedures known to be reliable on the basis of
long experience, rather than to seek an easy but doubtful solution in novel
materials that have yet to be tested in service,

Rept. No. R1937



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