Few painters are able to detect whether the material they buy is what it purports to be. Linseed oil may be largely adulterated with water, and this adulteration cannot be detected. Foreign seeds may have been intermingled with the flaxseed, owing to the carelessness of the farmer, yet it would require a very expert chemist to detect the fact, but in either case the durability of the paint film has been impaired. So-called white leads are largely sold that con tain a large percentage of extenders and adulter ants; colors that are far from being what they claim; turpentine that is doctored with the cheaper mineral oils; and varnishes, claiming to be pure kauri gum and turpentine, in which these ingredients are replaced by rosin and ben zine. The architect or the property owner can not detect by such inspection as he is able to give, whether the materials furnished are of the grade that has been specified. In the case of materials like mixed paints and varnishes, which are put up in sealed packages, there is little safety in specifying that the goods shall be deliv ered to the building in unbroken packages. Even though the superintendent sees the painter open the cans or barrels, he cannot tell whether the materials are afterward applied as they come from the can, unless he stands by and watches every brushful of paint or varnish as it is ap plied. There are so many opportunities for the unscrupulous painter who has taken a contract at a lower price than it is worth to do the work honestly, to do an inferior job and save money by doing it, that it is practically impossible to super vise a job so carefully that cheating will be im possible. Even the mechanics, in order to make their work easier, will dilute the paint with tur pentine or benzine or will stir water into it, causing the brush to slip over the surface easier and requiring less muscular energy to apply the paint. The "boss" does not always detect the trick, but the result soon shows in defective paint surface.
Every different kind of wood requires a spe cial treatment. The atmospheric condition must also be taken into account in mixing paint. More dryers must be used on a damp day or in cold weather. The absorbent nature of the surface must be carefully considered. The only thing that will enable one to know exactly how to treat any given house on a given day is experi ence. While it is possible for the average handy man to brush on mixed paint and to cover the surface with a coat of color, it is practically impossible for him to do a thoroughly mechani cal job, to putty up the nail-holes and other de fects as they should be puttied, and to avoid laps that will show streaks on the surface, unless he has learned to paint. On certain classes of rough work, it may be true that "anybody can paint," but it is poor economy for a man who is building himself a home to employ anybody but a skilled mechanic to paint his house for the first time— whatever may be done on subsequent paintings. The first painting of a house is the foundation upon which all subsequent coatings must rest, and unless it is properly done, with the proper materials, it will inevitably cause as much trouble as though the foundation of the house were built with rotten stone laid up in mortar mixed with loam and without enough lime in it to act as the binder.
Colors for Outside Painting. Within the past twenty or thirty years there have been sev eral changes in the fashion of house painting. These changes took place slowly and gradually. There is no marked change in the style of house painting from one season to the next as there is in the colors for dress goods. Most of us remem ber the days when it was the almost universal custom for country houses to be painted white, with the putty lines of the sash cut in with black, and the outside blinds a bright green. Paris green was at one time very commonly used, until supplanted by the cheaper and less poisonous chrome greens. In fact, many of the materials used in painting are poisonous; but, as the only danger lies in taking them into the stomach, their poisonous character may be neglected, ex cept that painters should be very careful not to eat until they have thoroughly washed their hands.
The old-time white houses looked very charming when nestled in among green trees. This explained the peculiar beauty of so many of the New England villages. But in the midst of a treeless landscape, the white house had a very glaring effect and stood out altogether too strongly against the background. There has gradually been a great change in the appear ance of the towns and villages of the country. At first the tendency was toward grays and lead colors, easily mixed by adding lampblack or drop black to white; and then followed an era of the quieter tints, with a use of more or less red for cutting in chamfers. Soon after, the so called "Queen Anne" style came into vogue, and then color ran riot. Houses were painted in greens, browns, terra-cottas, and other strong colors, with chamfers and mouldings picked out in contrasting tints. It was no uncommon thing to have the body color vary in each story of the house and to use strongly contrasting colors as belts or courses encircling the building. This patchwork style soon died out, and the simpler Colonial architecture took its place. At first the only thing deemed proper for a Colonial house was a yellow body, with white trimmings and dark green blinds. But later it was realized that this was by no means an invariable combi nation. So long as the trimmings were kept of a lighter tone than the body, any pleasing combination of colors looked well on a Colonial house. For example, a light olive body with white or ivory trimmings is very effective, as is also a medium shade of terra-cotta for the body with warm ivory trimmings. Or the Co lonial house may be all white, especially when it is well shaded by large trees.
A house on the seashore or by the side of one of the great lakes, especially when sur rounded by more or less sand, should be darker than the same house set in the midst of trees. In the first instance, bright, strong, and rich colors are permissible, whereas on the village street more sober effects would be preferable. When surrounded by trees, light colors should be chosen, because otherwise the house will be too much obscured; but in selecting the colors care must be taken that they harmonize with the particular greens that the foliage shows. For example, the leaf greens of the horse chest nut, the silver maple. the poplar, and the willow are all very different. and what might har monize with one will not look so well with an other. Fortunately, however, nature has so blended her greens that each one of them con tains enough of the primary colors to make them harmonize with every other object in nature; but it is possible for man to produce pigment colors that will by no means harmonize with these beautiful natural greens. This is a thing that the painter should carefully study. While a house painted in tones of brown or green may look very well, indeed, when standing in the open, the same house should be painted in light tints when shaded by trees. White, yellow, light French gray, or terra-cotta would be pref erable to green in such a position. Again, it must be remembered that light colors tend to make a house look larger, while dark colors make it look smaller. Another thing to be borne in mind is that the window shades should harmonize with the paint. Many a house that has been painted with the utmost good taste has had the effect ruined by window shades of some inharmonious color. As a rule, white Hol land shades are preferable to any other, be cause they harmonize not only with the outside coloring but with any decorative scheme that may be employed in the rooms. If it is neces sary to make the rooms particularly dark this can be readily done by the use of extra shades of dark green.