Aluminum paint

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Jackson Pollock painting
MFA# 1971.638


Powdered Aluminum foil and Aluminum bronze are used as silver- and gold-color metallic paint pigments. Aluminum paint was probably first made in the mid-19th century but did not become popular as a paint pigment until about 1920. When dispersed in Oil or Varnish, the surface tension causes the flakes to spread out flat over the painted surface thus forming a near continuous metallic film. The aluminum pigmented films provide good moisture proofing and produce a surface that is 60-75 percent reflective. The paint film is durable and does not tarnish, but it lacks the luster of Silver, so it is generally not used for gilded decoration. Aluminum pigment paints were used for coating picture frames, radiators, roofs, and tanks.

Synonyms and Related Terms

aluminium paint (Br.); peinture à l'aluminium (Fr.); pintura de aluminio (Esp.); pittura ad alluminio (It.); pintura de alumínio (Port.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

The aluminum flakes are irregular in shape, shiny in reflected light and opaque in transmitted light.

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 569
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996

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