Founder John Lahey on Hollandlac

December 10, 2012

These products are known as “lac.” In some countries, it’s l-a-q-u-e, l-a-c, l-a-c-k, l-a-k, but this is not to
be confused with lacquer. This is what’s called, “lac.” And it originated in the Netherlands, and the term
normally is applied by a manufacturer to his absolute finest quality enamel – finest ground enamel.

We have distinctions in this country like interior enamel, exterior enamel, marine enamel – believe it
or not, in the Netherlands, it’s just “enamel.” If you went into a Dutch paint store and asked for marine
enamel interior paint, they’d look at you like you came from Mars. The Dutch have never understood
the benefit to be gained by making lower quality paint for interior use quite simply. So a Dutchman will
use the same enamel on his kitchen cabinets, his front door, and on his sailboat. They’re all paints that
are made to share one thing in common: they’re made to be the best they can be. Why downgrade the
finish for a less stressful use? It stands to reason that if it’s gonna last in the North Sea on a sailboat, it’s
gonna hold up extremely well in a kitchen environment.

So, these paints are made without filler and extender, so you’re dealing with high quality resins,
titanium dioxide, and the particular solvent (which we sell) for use with these coatings when thinning is
required. As you’re aware, there are changes in the law now; we can’t really safely advocate thinning or
legally advocate thinning. It says on all of our cans under normal environmental conditions, thinning is
not required. So these products are now sold really officially for clean-up purposes.

Now, what makes our company somewhat unique is that our tinting system is based on waterbourne
colorants for waterbourne paint, solvent-bourne colorants for solvent-bourne paint, and the colorant
that we’re using is paste. It’s not – it’s much stronger. It’s the strength of industrial paste.

When we tint a can of paint, Charlie Speedan, when we tint a can of transparent Hollandlac, we put
up to, what, 20% colorants. 20% colorant in the can! When you buy a can of paint domestically tinted
with UTCs in a transparent base, it has up to 6% colorant in it, right? So, the reason these paints – it’s
not no miracle. The reason why they’re giving you such incredible covering power is because they have
three times as much colorant in them. But the paint which you buy in a Fine Paints of Europe retailer
off the rack – and we have them in the stores, you know, with colored lids – here’s one. So you could
walk into a paint store in Boston, and you could buy a can of Rembrandt Red in a factory color. And then
you could go back into that store later in the day and say, “You know, the client really liked it. I need 15
more gallons of that. They will tint it in the back room, using the exact same colorants that were used
in the Netherlands in the same formula, so you could literally paint half of a door vertically with the
factory, and half with the tint made in the back room, and it’s gonna be exactly the same color. We’re
the only paint company in the world that can claim that. So every product that we make – that’s why
we guarantee two-coat coverage. Everything is factory quality, because everything is made with factory
colorants. Every one of our retailers is essentially a paint factory.

If you visited a domestic paint factory, and they’re making factory colors, it’s kinda like a winery or a
soda plant – they’re gonna make a 5,000 gallon batch, and they’re gonna run it down a line, and they’re
gonna can empty cans…right?

If you visited the factory in the Netherlands, where we get our paints, and they’re making factory colors
like this, you’re gonna see a string of big cans of base coming down the line. And they’re gonna go under
a filling machine that dispenses colorant into each can individually. And then they go down a little bit
further – they get a lid. Little bit further, they get flipped…little bit further, they get agitated, and then
put into a case. So, they’re making paint one can at a time, just like paint is made in a paint store, one
can at a time.

You know, where does the gloss come from, how do they achieve such an incredibly high level of gloss?
By finest of grind. Which is the same explanation of how they achieve of a coverage rate of over 600
sq. ft./gallon. If we were to do an analogy, and we had a table that was painted black on top, and we
wanted to put – let’s say we cut a line down the middle, a tape line down the middle, and our objective
is to wipe out the black so we can’t see black, and we’re gonna use rock salt on one half of the table, and
table salt on the other half of the table. Where we’re using the table salt, it’s gonna be a sixteenth of an
inch thick. Where we’re using the rock salt, it’s gonna be a quarter-inch thick.

So, one similarity I have noted between the paint industry and the wine industry is that time is
considered a four-letter word. Paint makers in this country have really tried to speed things up. They

don’t even grind pigments anymore. They buy colorants from companies that sell colorants, and that’s
how they make their paint. In the Netherlands, high-quality producers still grind pigments. And the
pigments that go into our Hollandlac Brilliant, for instance, are ground as much as three weeks, ok?
That’s very small particles size in a very primitive device called a ball mall.

Also fascinating is that the ball mill, which was invented around 1810, is still accepted as the means by
which you can grind pigments to their smallest possible size. You know, most American companies use
what is called a roller mill, which is much, much quicker. You know, they’ll try to do in an eight-hour shift
what our Dutch friends take three weeks to accomplish. But the pigments coming out of the ball mills
in the Netherlands are extremely – are very, like, powder-like. Ok? You can’t even feel any solid – it’s
almost like a powder-liquid. And that’s how we’re getting this incredible depth of color, incredible color
retention, and incredible durability. Because when the binder that’s in these enamels is holding together
these pigment particles which are millions of little particles – imagine these particles are very, very small
in size, the gap between them is very small in size.

So, it’s that tightest of finish which produces that incredible gloss level, incredible depth of color, and
incredible durability.

Previous post:

Next post: