Restoration painting is the practice of painting a structure so that it looks as good as new. For historically important buildings, being faithful to the original look of the building can be a little tricky because of the advances in painting and coating technology. These restoration projects require special paints which are formulated to look like the original, but give state of the art performance.
Restoration paints can be divided into two groups: authentic and serviceable. Authentic restoration paints attempt to use the same types of materials which were used to create the original paints, and are offered in colors that are historically appropriate to a given era. Serviceable restoration paints are meant for restoration work where functionality is a top concern.
The authenticity of authentic restoration paints can vary considerably between manufacturers. A truly authentic paint would have to be manufactured and distributed in the same fashion as it was originally, which may be cost-prohibitive. Also, some manufacturing processes are no longer legal due to hazardous material and pollution concerns. Thus, every paint manufacturer must balance historical accuracy with pricing and safety concerns when making authentic restoration paints.
For serviceable restoration paints, their protective qualities will trump historical accuracy. Serviceable paints are meant to cover small flaws and imperfections in the surface materials, and provide a protective barrier against the effects of weather. As long as these performance characteristics are meet, the remaining challenge is matching the colors used in the original structure.