The American Paint Timeline

For the larger part of paint history, application and manufacturer was one and the same. It was a single industry where professionals made and put on their own product. Paint making was typically done by hand (no machines) and was an arduous process. From cave walls to the mid 1800s (1867), quite possibly 100,000 years, manufacture was part of every application. During colonial times, some ingredients were made in volume for purchase, which allowed professionals to spend more time on application and less on making.

In America, the innovation of ready-made paint components started early on; the year was 1700. This was the predecessor to paint brands. Years ago, there were 100s of paint brands, as well as 100s of component makers (totaling more than 3,000). We have included about 60. The following timeline shares some highlights of America’s painting past. Not all events or companies are included.

In the future, nano technology, robotics, artificial intelligence and other innovations will change our work and grace the timeline. We hope you find the PPT compilation interesting.

American paint and coating industry accomplishments:


Thomas Child, a Master Painter, established the first paint mill in Boston, Massachusetts, importing two grinding mill stones, known as the “Boston Stone” for use in his paint shop.


The Devoe Paint brand was established in Boston (before America was an independent republic). Devoe is the oldest industry brand in the world…Sikkens is the second oldest.


Sikkens founder Wiert Willem Sikkens built a paint factory in the city wall of Groningen. The wall was built in the 13th century and once surrounded the city (was 400 feet tall). Today, the company is AkzoNobel (aprox 15 Billion in sales), headquartered in The Netherlands, and Sikkens is their oldest brand.  (Although not an American brand, AkzoNobel purchased Devoe (with the ICI acquisition) and since sold it to PPG ).


Elder & Jenks, a Philadelphia based brush company, was founded. (According to the Muralo brand’s archives; Muralo purchased E & J and recently Muralo was purchased spinning off E & J as an independent company once again).


Some 20 years after the patriotic, midnight ride, Paul Revere had built a successful gold and silversmith business. In 1795, he helped charter the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, likely the first professional trade association in America. There were 83 original members; each prestigiously recognized as a top craftsman in a respective trade. Three Master Painters assisted with the start of the new venture. One Master Painter, Samuel Gore, served as Treasurer alongside the association’s first leader, President Revere. Some years later, Mr. Gore was elected President.


Valspar was founded as a paint dealership in Boston.


The Zinseer brand was established in Manhattan, NY; now owned by RPM International and managed by RPM’s Rust-Oleum group. When William Zinsser, a foreman in a Mainz, Germany, shellac factory, immigrated to the United States in 1848 he discovered that shellac varnishes and French varnishes were unknown to America. Working from a home laboratory, Zinsser developed a product and had soon established the nation’s first bleached shellac manufacturing plant


Wooster Brush Company originated in Wooster, Ohio.


Henry Sherwin and Edward Williams established the Sherwin-Williams Company.


D.R. Averill patented the first prepared or ready-mixed paints in Ohio.


Benjamin Moore & Company was established.
PPG Industries was founded.


The Master House Painters of the United States commenced; now known as the Painting & Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA).


The Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators of America was organized; now know as the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

A Chicago-land Master Painter, Joseph Binks, invented the first sprayer (a hand pump).  The innovation came about to speed the process of applying white wash on the extensive, multi-level basement walls of the Marshall Fields department store.

The National Paint, Oil and Varnish Association – the first national organization to represent paint manufacturing – was formed at a meeting on Sept. 11, 1887 in Saratoga N.Y.


Miller Paints was established in Portland, Oregon by the German born Master Painter, Ernest Miller.


Society of Painting & Decorating Contractors of Massachusetts (now known as Massachusetts PDCA) was born from members of the 1795 formed Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association.


Hirshfield’s Paint was Founded Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Muralo Paints began in Staten Island, New York (now owned by California Paints – a wholly owned subsidiary of ICP Construction).


Paint manufacturers created the Paint Grinders Association of the United States because they felt that their branch of the industry had its own specific concerns.

The first “Non-Exchange Agreement” was adopted to put an end to competitive practices that allowed salesmen to convince a retailer to replace the current stock with the salesman’s brand of paint.


Lithopone and Tung oil (China wood oil) first appeared for use in the American paint and varnish industry.


U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt added a Department of Commerce to his Cabinet, a proposal initiated by the the paint manufacturer’s group: National Paint, Oil and Varnish Association.


The Farrell-Calhoun brand was established.


Thomas DeVilbiss created the first spray gun – a hand-held, air-powered spray gun.

The Paint Grinders Association changed its name to the Paint Manufacturers Association.


Paint plant managers, superintendents, and chemists attend annual meetings of the National Varnish Manufacturers Association (NVMA), a sign of a growing trend toward cooperation of technical production individuals in the industry.


Paint Manufacturers Association’s first consumer education campaign: “Save the Surface and You Save it All.”


Rust-Oleum brand was established. The founder, sea captain Robert Fergusson, didn’t particularly care about paint. He just wanted to keep his ship intact. When he noticed that an accidental splash of fish oil had stopped the relentless spread of corrosion on his rusty metal deck, the company was born.


On June 14, the Federation of Paint and Varnish Production Clubs (Federation) was organized. Known as the Federation of Scientists & Coating Technologists (FSCT) – was once part of the PDCA…recently the group was folded into the American Coating Association (ACA).


Companies began to add college trained chemists to their staffs and chemical formulas began to replace recipe books, moving the industry to a more science-based approach.

Dunn Edwards was established in Los Angeles by Frank “Buddy” Dunn – not as a paint maker, but as a wallpaper store. In 1938, he partnered with his friend Arthur C. Edwards, a paint contractor, to form the current company, which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan-based Nippon Paint.

The Purdy Brush brand began; now owned by Sherwin-Williams


Diamond Vogel Paints was founded in Orange City, Iowa.


Rhodda Paint was founded (now owned by Canada-based Cloverdale Paint)


The first paint roller was invented.

A new headquarters of the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association was dedicated at 1500 Rhode Island Avenue in Washington, D.C.

The Federation (FSCT) initiates research and production studies on creating camouflage paints.


Eleven corrosion engineers from the pipeline industry established the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE), now known as NACE International. The association has grown steadily and internationally. Today, it is by far the largest paint and coating related organization with 36,000 members.


Otho Behr, Jr. began selling linseed oil to paint stores from the back of a station wagon. Behr Paint was founded.

William H. Kelly and William E. Moore established Kelly-Moore Paints.


The paint manufacturing industry’s volume reaches a billion dollars for the first time.


Portable canned spray paint was invented by Edward Seymour to showcase his aluminum paint for radiators. Edward Seymour’s wife Bonnie suggested the use of an aerosol can filled with paint.


Otto Rohm and Otto Haas invented the acrylic resin. Although there were early versions, the Rohm and Haas resin became the industry standard. The Rohm & Hass company was acquired by Dow Chemical, now Dow DuPont.

Steel Structures Painting Council was formed (originally a group within the PDCA). Now known as SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings, it is a non-profit professional society concerned with the use of coatings to protect industrial steel structures.


NPVLA, in cooperation with the Federal Civil Defense Administration, produced a film, The House in the Middle, which asserted that homes painted with reflective white paint had an increased chance of survivability during an atomic event.

In 2001, the Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.


FSCT established High School Science Teachers Seminar in Paint Technology at North Dakota Agricultural College to help encourage interest in paint industry careers.


The National Paint, Varnish, and Lacquer Association became the National Paint and Coatings Association (NPCA).


The Federation of Societies for Paint Technology changed its name to Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology (FSCT).

National Guild of Professional Paperhangers (NGPP) was established. The wallpaper professionals originated in the PDCA and left. Today, the group is known as the Wallcovering Installers Association (WIA).


The federal government banned lead in paint used in residential structures; many paint manufacturers had discontinued the use of lead pigments in consumer paints in the 1950s.


NPCA created the “Picture it Painted” campaign to promote paint products to consumers and to enhance the paint industry’s image.


Computerized in-store paint matching was introduced, making it possible to analyze any paint sample and provide a perfect match.


The association established the National Council to Prevent Delinquency (NCPD) to monitor legislation on aerosol paints and to educate those who might be influenced by the portrayal of graffiti vandalism as “cool.”


NPCA establishes a web site:


The Master Painters Institute (MPI) was formed by a group of Canadian Union Paint Contractors. In 2017, MPI was acquired by NACE International; it is a wholly owned subsidiary.


The Finishing Contractors Association (FCA), a national group from the finishing industry comprised of 100% union contractors, was established. (The paint professionals exited PDCA).


The first American Coatings Show (ACS) and American Coatings Conference were held June 2 – 5, in Charlotte, N.C. It is the American Coatings Association’s convention.

At the ACS post-show press conference, NPCA announced an agreement to merge with the Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology (FSCT), a long-established organization representing the interests of coatings industry professionals.


The NPCA association changed its name to American Coatings Association, Inc., adopted a new logo and a new mission, which focuses on the interests of both companies and technical professionals in the coatings industry.


Painting Pro Times, the source for paint professionals, was established. We become the industry’s first online publication covering the full spectrum of paint and coating application.

ACA established PaintCare, a non-profit organization designed to provide a system for the collection of post-consumer architectural paint and the management of its end-of-product life, including reuse, recycling, energy recovery, and proper disposal.

Accomplishments to be continued…

Sources: Company websites and the

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