Multi-Color Paints

Question: I work for a small waterborne paint manufacturer in Europe.


I work for a small waterborne paint manufacturer in Europe. We are trying to reproduce multicolored waterborne decorative paints used mainly for interior surfaces. When applied to a surface, it has a sand-like quality to it. The tiny little particles in the paint appear to glisten in different colors. I have been told that these particles are composed of polyester. Is that true, and if so, how should I call this component in order to find a supplier? L.K.


I was a paint chemist when I had a real job. This question is beyond the scope of the Painting Clinic, but I will answer it. The finishes you describe were lacquer-based globules of different colored paint dispersed in a waterborne paint. The system worked because of the incompatibility of the two paint resins. The colors of the lacquer globules and base color of the waterborne paint determine the final color of the paint film. Although it is possible that polyesters are now used in multi-colored paints, the original ones used nitrocellulose lacquers.

In the 1950s, multi-color paints were popular novelty finishes. In 1956, the baby furniture I purchased for my son had such a finish. I think the crib is still in the attic. Beside their use as novelty finishes, they were also used to hide surface defects in manufactured products, for example, dents, weldments and waves in sheet metal because they provided optical interference. My company considered their use on equipment cabinets to eliminate surface filling and grinding.

Since these multi-color finishes may still be protected by patents by some companies, they must be contacted before producing them. If so, you may be able to arrange a licensing agreement. I suggest you use the Internet to find them using keywords such as finishes, multicolored, multi-color and paints.