Brief History of Fine Paints of Europe
Established in 1987 by John Lahey, Fine Paints of Europe was a initially a niche company, selling mostly to restorers of historic properties. Twenty-five years later, helmed by Lahey’s son, John Lahey III, Fine Paints makes and imports many products for commercial and residential use as well. Homeowners, contractors, architects, and designers all look to the Vermont-based company for high-quality, durable coatings. Watch an interview with John F. Lahey discussing Fine Paints of Europe unique colors.
Fine Paints’ founder approached the business from an economics perspective. He realized that manufacturers used much longer-lasting paints on cars and boats than consumers did on their own homes. Lahey also understood that the durability of vehicle paint allowed people to simply wash dirty cars or boats rather than repainting them. In contrast, the inexpensive coatings that ended up on most houses wore out quickly and needed to be replaced.
In a video on the company’s Web site, Lahey demonstrates the washability of Fine Paints’ Eurolux matte wall paint, which tends to last 15 to 20 years under normal household conditions. Lahey mixes ketchup, chocolate syrup, and brown mustard on a piece of sheetrock painted with two coats of Eurolux. He then uses nothing but water and a sponge to wipe it clean. Lahey adds that before the video was made, the same test succeeded 100 times.
Fine Paints has several claims to fame that elevate it above the average U.S. paint company. Its clients have included the Mount Vernon Estate (George Washington’s onetime residence), Louisiana’s historic Evergreen Plantation, and Philadelphia’s Chinatown, where Fine Paints products were used to create an authentic Chinese gate. Fine Paints coatings are also on display at acclaimed designer Roy McMakin’s Seattle furniture workshop.
The company has a few other distinctions as well. It is the only American importer of paints and varnishes made by the Dutch company Wijzonol Bouwverven B.V. Fine Paints is also the sole licensee of Pantone Paints, whose color palettes it sells alongside collections by Susan Sargent and Martha Stewart. International palettes sold by Fine Paints include the Scandinavian Color Institute’s Natural Color System, which includes 1,750 hues, and the RAL system, which the German government designed in 1927 and which contains more than 1,900 colors.
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