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Ceramic-Filled Paint Is Both Warm and Cool


QUESTION: My house is hot in the summer and my heating bills are too high in the winter. Will painting the walls with residential-type insulating ceramic-filled paint help? Is it durable and washable?

ANSWER: Insulating ceramic-filled interior and exterior paint can cut utility bills and improve comfort. Once you roll, brush or spray it on your walls, it looks like ordinary flat wall paint. I used it on my own kitchen walls.

The microsized ceramic particles (borosilicate) have a unique combination of properties. Ceramic painted walls reflect heat as aluminum foil does, so in winter indoor heat and your own body heat magnify the temperature. They also dissipate heat as a dark cast-iron radiator does.

These properties make it an excellent insulator for interior walls. You can actually hold a cigarette lighter under a metal strip coated with ceramic-filled paint and touch the top of the metal strip without getting burned.

On the exterior of your house, ceramic-filled paint blocks the summer sun's heat and protects the walls from thermal shock and stresses. The paint is highly durable, carrying up to a 10-year warranty, and comes in all colors.

Many paint manufacturers use hollow ceramic microspheres (finer than a human hair) in water-based acrylic for easy cleanup. As the paint dries, these spheres pack tightly together to form an insulating barrier.

Several new paints use a combination of hollow microspheres and flat platelets. The platelets create a heat-reflecting (not visually reflective) and heat-dissipating surface. The microspheres create the insulation barrier.

This paint rolls on many times thicker--up to 15 mils (thousandths of an inch)--than ordinary wall paint. This heavy coat can often cover small cracks and imperfections and helps reduce indoor noise.

If you have a problem with second-floor bedrooms overheating in the summer, use a special ceramic-filled paint on the roof. It is sometimes a low-cost alternative to expensive roof repairs. Tough ceramic-filled stucco is also available. It makes an excellent and attractive repair for old natural stucco.

There are several new types of no-stain, scrubable flat and satin interior wall paints available (EverClean, Silken Touch, Accolade, etc.). Some can last more than 10 years without losing their like-new appearance.

One technology uses tiny latex particles to form a nonporous surface. Dirt and splatters do not soak in and are easily wiped off. Another uses microscopic particles of slick Teflon in the paint to repel stains and dirt.

Write for Update Bulletin No. 588, a buyer's guide of 12 ceramic and no-stain, washable paints, prices, application instructions, warranties and coverage. Please include $2 and a business-size self-addressed stamped envelope and mail to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

Pilotless Gas Fireplace Is Cheap, Convenient

Q: After last winter, I am tired of hauling firewood indoors for my occasional fire. I am considering getting a gas fireplace. Models with pilot lights are cheaper, but how much gas does the pilot use?

A: A standing gas pilot light in a fireplace can use up to 50 therms of gas per year. A therm is 100,000 Btu of gas. Based on typical gas rates, this can cost about $35 per year.

A pilotless ignition option eliminates the pilot light. An electronic sparker or hot surface ignition device starts the fire on demand. A pilotless gas fireplace with a hand-held remote is convenient to use.


Save energy with new insulating ceramic-filled and no-stain paints.

* Wet ceramic filled paint with particles suspended.

* Evaporation process as paint dries.

* Dried interior paint with solid film of ceramic particles.

* Standard interior wall paint.

* Less porous no-stain paint.


Letters and questions to Dulley, a Cincinnati-based engineering consultant, may be sent to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244. To read 150 previous columns, e-mail Dulley at

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