PPG Does It Wright

By Christine Esposito | August 10, 2005

PPG is playing a major role in the $11.5 million restoration effort under way at Frank Lloyd Wright�s Fallingwater.

Harmony with nature is the underlying theme for Fallingwater, one of the best known and most loved residences created by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Mr. Wright's dream: create a special structure that not only straddled a waterfall, but appeared to sprout from the hilly, leafy, rocky terrain where it was to be built. The project was commissioned in the 1930s by Edgar Kaufman Sr., a Pittsburgh retail mogul.

But what makes Fallingwater so unique is also what plagues this famed residence, including its paint and coatings. The house's breathtaking design features cantilevered decks, curved concrete structures and flat roofs and terraces. Add to that its proximity to (and contact with) running water and moisture from the waterfall and surrounding hillside, and it's easy to see why paint is put to the test at Fallingwater. Luckily for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC), the group charged with Fallingwater's preservation, when it came to paint and coatings expertise, there was a perfect partner in Pittsburgh, just 70 miles away.

PPG is playing a major role in an $11.5 million restoration effort that has been ongoing at Fallingwater since 1996. Experts from PPG's Pittsburgh Paint unit, its high performance coatings group and its coatings and resins R&D center in Springdale, PA are involved in the project.

The Fallingwater residence. (Used with permission of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.)

At the heart of the paint renovation work at Fallingwater has been Pittsburgh Paint's Pure Performance, its new low-odor, zero-VOC premium latex paint. Company officials were on hand at a special event held at Fallingwater on May 20, in which architects, designers and specifiers were the first to see the new collection of colors inspired by the residence and progress in the restoration project.

PPG architectural finish executives, including Richard A. Beuke, president, and William G. Boberski, director of technology, as well as staffers ranging from marketing to formulation to tech support were on hand at Fallingwater to address questions about PPG's decorative and high performance coatings. Falling-water staff and the WPC were also in attendance to provide insight into just how difficult upkeep of the residence has been.

"We had trouble keeping paint on the house; it is a very damp environment. The less we have to repaint it the better," said Alex Speyer III, chairman of the Fallingwater Advisory Committee. "We have the complete technical might of PPG behind us, so when we put paint on it, it will remain on."

According to Lynda Waggoner, vice president and director of Fallingwater, one of the first coatings used on Fallingwater was cement casein-based paint, which dirtied very quickly. (WPC found an original can of the dry paint used on the structure). Ms. Waggoner addressed difficult conditions for paint at Fallingwater, such as horizontal surfaces. "We are working with PPG to try to address these problems," she said.

Working with Fallingwater maintenance staff and architectural engineers is key to finding the right coatings and waterproofing solutions for the dwelling, according to Mr. Beuke, who commented on the special position Pure Performance has in the project. Pure Performance, he said, is in "keeping with Fallingwater's requirements and vision" of having a "profound respect for nature and the least impact on the environment."


Pure Performance-the first premium paint to earn Green Seal Class A certification-contains antimicrobials that resist mold and mildew growth, a critical issue at Fallingwater.

A New Collection
Since Fallingwater has been open to the public, WPC has fielded many calls from the 130,000-plus yearly visitors, many of whom wanted to paint their homes the same colors.
Those homeowners-as well as Wright-inspired designers and architects-now have that option. PPG has created Fallingwater Inspired Colors within the Voice of Color collection. The 13 shades, which have been authenticated by WPC, come from fabrics, walls and furniture inside the residence and from the surrounding landscape. The range includes Cherokee red one of Fallingwater's most recognizable colors, which is used on metal and ironwork.

Being involved in the Fallingwater restoration effort is also proving beneficial to PPG's R&D efforts. The project has given PPG a unique opportunity to study special challenges, including waterproofing Fallingwater's cantilevered decks, which are not only outdoor terraces, but also serve as the ceiling for interior sections of the home.

PPG's coatings and resins research and development staff, as well its high performance coatings groups are testing PPG products on various surfaces at Fallingwater. Among the products currently being studied are Pitt-Flex, an acrylic elastomeric coating, and PPG's Perm Sealer Vapor Barrier, a low moisture transmission primer product that will prevent moisture from the cantilevered decks from migrating into the interior of the home's concrete ceilings.

Caution: Wet Paint
Currently, the walls and ceilings of the former servant's quarters-now the Fallingwater staff offices-have been painted with PPG's Speedhide primer and Pure Performance paint. During the main painting work in the residence, staffers will remain at work thanks to Pure Performance's zero-VOC, low-odor formulation-an important issue for WPC.

"Low VOC is very important to our environment," said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO, WPC. "It is very important to us to work with a company that understands that. We're pleased to have PPG as a partner."

Related Market & Technology:

Related Raw Materials:

blog comments powered by Disqus
  • Low- and Zero-VOC Technology

    Low- and Zero-VOC Technology

    Kerry Pianoforte, Editor||April 15, 2015
    Increasingly stringent environmental regulations have created a greater demand for low- and zero-VOC coatings products.  

  • Architectural Interior Coatings

    Architectural Interior Coatings

    Kerry Pianoforte, Editor ||January 19, 2015
    Growth in new construction and increased existing home sales drive growth for architectural interior coatings.

  • Self Cross-Linking Resin Coatings Offer Siding Manufacturers An Edge

    Self Cross-Linking Resin Coatings Offer Siding Manufacturers An Edge

    Bob Cregg, Industry Directory Building Products,Sherwin-Williams Product Finishes ||November 7, 2014
    New coatings that utilize a cross-linking resin meet the finishing challenges siding manufacturers face.

  • Benjamin Moore Hue Awards

    Benjamin Moore Hue Awards

    May 15, 2012
    At its annual celebration of color, Benjamin Moore’s HUEYs were presented for exceptional use of color in architecture and interior design.

  • Architectural Coatings Market

    Architectural Coatings Market

    Tim Wright, Editor||January 24, 2012
    In high growth regions demand for architectural coatings continues to grow, but in the mature markets of North America and Western Europe difficult conditions remain.

  • White Roof Coatings Boost Solar Power

    White Roof Coatings Boost Solar Power

    Charles W. Thurston, Contributing Editor||September 14, 2011
    Most of the interest in white roofs comes from the heat reflection of the surface, which reduces energy consumption for cooling.

  • The Asia-Pacific Paint and Coatings Market

    The Asia-Pacific Paint and Coatings Market

    Scott Detiveaux, Allen Tsaur||August 15, 2011
    The Asia-Pacific region is an important and growing part of the global coatings marketplace. Unlike other regions of the world, the Asia-Pacific region has continued to grow, even in the face of the global recession.

  • Local Color

    Local Color

    Tim Wright||April 4, 2011
    Paint makers work with local designers, paint dealers to develop very specific color palettes for particular regions.

  • Toward a Clean Energy Future

    Toward a Clean Energy Future

    Tim Wright||March 10, 2011
    Coatings World caught up with former DuPont head Chad Holliday and discussed issues ranging from corporate environmental responsibility, sustainability, climate change and the American Energy Innovation Council.

  • Focus on China: Guangdong Carpoly

    Focus on China: Guangdong Carpoly

    Tim Wright||March 10, 2011
    Among the world’s top 40 paint producers, Guangdong Carpoly has ambitious growth plans for the future.

  • Benjamin Moore: Leaders in Exterior Deco Technology

    Benjamin Moore: Leaders in Exterior Deco Technology

    Tim Wright||October 5, 2010
    One of the leading North American paint manufacturers, Benjamin Moore continues to innovate new technology for the exterior architectural coatings market place. Jeff Spillane, senior product marketing manager at Benjamin Moore discusses some of these new advancements as well as the market in general.

  • "Green" Coatings Market is Growing

    "Green" Coatings Market is Growing

    Kerry Pianoforte, Associate Editor||March 29, 2010
    Manufacturers of low and zero VOC coatings are taking a holistic view when it comes to developing greener coatings, focusing not only on what goes into the can, but also on sustainable packaging and fuel efficiency.

  • Interior Color Trends

    Interior Color Trends

    Tim Wright, Editor||March 29, 2010
    More than ever paint companies must serve a diverse palette of color options.

  • The U.S. Interior Decorative Coatings Market

    The U.S. Interior Decorative Coatings Market

    Tim Wright, Editor||December 23, 2009
    Major U.S. paint manufacturers including Benjamin Moore, Kelly-Moore, Rodda Paint and Dunn-Edwards discuss key issues in the interior decorative coatings market.

  • Marketing Matters

    Bonnie Morrow||October 1, 2009
    Because most coatings manufacturers have a broad, complex business model that embraces multiple customer targets, the selling and marketing of coatings requires a vigilant and precise understanding of customers and their needs.

  • Exterior Architectural Decorative Coatings

    Exterior Architectural Decorative Coatings

    Kerry Pianoforte||October 1, 2009
    In these tough economic times, DIYers and contractors look for exterior coatings that will offer money saving benefits.

  • iPhone Camera Meets Benjamin Moore Fan Deck

    iPhone Camera Meets Benjamin Moore Fan Deck

    Charles Thurston||August 4, 2009
    Benjamin Moore has wedded its color authority to the technology of iPhones. On June 1 the company debuted ben Color Capture, an iPhone application that, with the tap of a key, lets users snap a picture of any color and instantly match it to one of the more than 3,300 hues in Benjamin Moore's color system.

  • Encouraging Growth Potential for the Indian Paint Industry

    Encouraging Growth Potential for the Indian Paint Industry

    Devaraj Parthasarathy||August 4, 2009
    The Indian paint and coatings industry is still performing well despite slower growth due to the global financial crisis.

  • Low- & Zero VOC Paint Technology

    Kerry Pianoforte||May 7, 2009
    No longer merely a buzzword, demand for "green" coatings continues to increase for both the professional and DIY markets.

  • Interior Decorative Coatings

    Interior Decorative Coatings

    Tim Wright||January 8, 2009
    During tough economic times green products flood mature interior deco markets to try and keep sales buoyant.

  • Green Building the Future

    Green Building the Future

    Tim Wright||October 30, 2008
    Paint makers and their raw material suppliers are key players in the green building boom taking place in the U.S.

  • Exterior Architectural Decorative Coatings

    Exterior Architectural Decorative Coatings

    Tim Wright||October 3, 2008
    The overall slowdown in economic activity combined with rising raw material costs, greater VOC restrictions and market consolidation are the key issues facing the exterior deco market today.

  • 2008 Top Companies Report

    2008 Top Companies Report

    Tim Wright||July 14, 2008

  • The Indian Paint Industry

    The Indian Paint Industry

    Parthasarathy Devaraj||May 12, 2008
    The Indian paint market is poised to grow at a steady rate over the next decade fueled largely by a growing economy and changing consumer attitudes.