Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Those fine 'Fine Paints of Europe'

As an architect you constantly find yourself specifying interesting and beautiful products but how does one get to make an educated decision over which products to use? I decided to try one out myself - Fine Paints of Europe. Fine Paints of Europe, or FPE as I'll call it in this post, is an oil based paint renowned for its glossy, almost glass-like appearance. To achieve this shine a rather detailed process is involved and on a recent project I decided to try it myself rather than leave it to the painters so that I could really get to understand the process.
Lets start at the very beginning shall we?  The project was an old and rather, lets say, 'dated' townhouse in Georgetown.  Above you can see the 100 year old door forlornly hidden behind an ugly security gate and layers of pink paint.
The first step was to get the house right. Painters were brought in to banish the pink and white scheme and new landscaping was installed. Dated storm doors in the city? No thanks, rip that out! Much better already, no?  After the long missing shutters were re-installed the only thing remaining on the street front was how to make that front door a focal point. It had to be something really special I felt - a bold color - and a shiny finish would be the finishing touch. Rather than a traditional red or green accent door, purple was decided upon. Yes - PURPLE. If you're gonna go for it - GO FOR IT!
Picking up my paint brush I was careful to follow the FPE instructions. After removing all of the brass hardware (to be thoroughly polished) and sanding the door (a very important step as the high gloss would show any imperfection), a specialty primer by FPE was used. This primer was so thick and rigid, like super glue, that it created a smooth surface to work on; not an easy feat on a rough old Victorian door! This took about 3 HOURS!! The 3 day holiday weekend was a perfect time for this as it took an entire day for the door to be sanded, primed, and then dry. The 2nd day was the 1st coat of paint.  The paint was also thick, although not as rigid as the primer. It went on smoothly and after very careful brush strokes, miraculously produced a perfect glossy surface!
The first coat dried perfectly and I was tempted to leave well enough alone but the directions said to apply a second coat. So the 3rd day I woke up early and did as directed. The 2nd coat was somewhat difficult as the paint dries as glossy as it is while wet so making sure I was achieving even coverage was a bit of a chore (viewing the door sideways helped). After drying for 12 hours I was able to re-install the now gleaming brass hardware and voila!
I was so happy with the end result and think it puts the finishing touch on this lovely Georgetown townhouse. On future projects I'll now be able to instruct painters with assurance having tried the product myself.  Lesson learned: follow the directions, they're there for a reason!
I received no compensation for this post but rather I wanted to share my experience with a great product!

25 comments:

Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

Thank you! I have been wondering about using that paint. I really want my door to be repainted and I have been dragging my feet, wondering what to use.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Kerry - definitely go with the FPE and you won't regret it!

Blue said...

A very handsome result! I have not seen a purple front door since sometime in the the middle 60s. I'm glad to see (as should be expected from an architect who clearly cares) shutters that fit the windows.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Blue, thank you! I had no idea purple doors were ever a thing but it's good to have precedent. Real operating shutters are a must or otherwise don't bother! they weren't particularly more expensive than screw on vinyl nastiness from home depot that so many people seem to like to use.

Chronica Domus said...

What a marvelous job you've done awakening that home from the dead. Bravo!

In England, I've found that high gloss paint finishes are so much more glossy than anything I've tried in The States. I'm not sure why that is, do you?

My own front door is this same color purple and I've had it this way for at least a dozen years. It is now on its second paint job and I kept the same color. It just works on my home so why change.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Chronica, thank you! We have limits on oil paints now in the USA for VOC levels and have to import our glossy paints unfortunately. There is a definite whole in the market.

My Notting Hill said...

Looks spectacular!! Love the color too.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thanks Michele -your door was my inspiration!

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

WOW Stefan! Now that's an amazing transformation, love it. I think I need some of your persuasion techniques with a few of my design clients who are fearful of bold color choices. Honestly a couple of years ago when I went to paint our front door my suggestion to John was Plum ... Well he said "P-U-R-P-L-E??? So up went a non defined greenish grey to compliment the stone. This post has inspired me back to lusting for Plum. I have never used FPE paint, but I will now! Thanks for sharing your gorgeous results.
Vera

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Row Homes,
the door is so small and really just an accent -it's the perfect place for bold color without going overboard! Plus, if you hate it, it's only a small area to repaint! Go for it!

Toby Worthington said...

Your purple door looks fabulous!

By strange coincidence I too found myself dealing with Fine Paints of Europe over the holiday weekend
(the only logical time to paint a door, really)but in my case it was a deep bronze green inspired by something seen in London ages ago and custom mixed using FPEs dark coach green as a base.

The paint itself is richness personified, but viscous in the extreme, wouldn't you say? In other words rather tricky to work with. Though I must say that end results are worth the fuss and bother.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Toby, sounds terrific! Agree that it's VERY tricky to work with. I found being methodical and patient was important! The end result is worth the hard work though.

The Swan said...

It takes a SPECIAL EYE...too SEE a color otherwise never thought of. You placed it well, giving a special Graceful Elegance to the odd placement of this entry but historical none the less. I do love the juxtaposition of the Entry, with a sweeping staircase and the shutters and transom appear Black to offset the Purple.

In my humble opinion, the lantern is DIVINE, but the bulb should be covered within by a frosted hurricane lantern within the Lamp...tres chic!!!!

David said...

I used FPE on a furniture project once to approximate lacquer, and I thought it was fantastic to work with. I ordered mine from Vermont, had a color matched, and was very pleased with their service as well.

Mark Ruffner said...

As I was reading through this posting, I was thinking to myself, "What about a surface with imperfections?!" Your explanation about the process and the thickness of the primer answered the question. The door looks great and I like that rich color!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Swan, agreed! the lamp post is original and ideally it will just get replaced with something more 'historical' and less '1950s'. Even just a frosted lantern would help though, you're right!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

David, my neighbor says he does the same thing - lacquer's furniture with it -such a great idea! i keep thinking now 'what can I paint?'

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Mark, the imperfections were my biggest worry. Even sanding wouldn't get them all out, but the primer hid a lot of the smaller things surprisingly.

Thomas at My Porch said...

You did a great job. I am soooo glad that someone else will be doing our door in FPE. I'd kind of like to do something bold, but we will be doing black.

Mark Downing said...

Thank you so much for testing this product, I am very interested. I appreciate especially that you did the test yourself.

Follow up information will be very important.

How colorfast is it over time, say a couple years.

What direction does the door face?

Does the sheen hold up over time?

Thanks again for the test, the door looks terrific

Mark

Karena Albert said...

Stefan, the front entry to your house now looks incredible. I love the purple shade of paint, thanks for the recommendation!

xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena

A Perfect Gray said...

looks great; I look forward to trying these. donna

pve design said...

Seriously! Love it and so much better than the before.
What an entrance!
pve

home before dark said...

A bold, beautiful and juicy choice. I'm impressed by your patience to get this paint applied. I've read about it and it seems daunting. Looks great. I always admire doors where people wear their hearts at the threshold

An Urban Cottage said...

The purple looks perfect! The blow by blow is much appreciated too. I've seen many of the doors on Beacon Hill with that super glossy finish and I wondered how they achieved it. I tried glossy latex and it was a nightmare.

Question: When I painted my doors, I taped plastic over the openings so I could leave the doors open for the day for the paint to dry (and not let the cats out). Did the paint dry sufficiently that you were able to close the door each night?