Falu Rödfärg is an iconic red paint in Sweden and the West coast of Finland. I just recently learned about it after realizing that many of the log cabins back home are painted red and were made by my Finnish family members (in Northwestern Ontario). You can read more about that here (Great Grandpa Johnson Built Log Cabins).
Is red a Finnish colour? Yes.
Here are 10 things you might not know about Falu Red:
- In Finland, falu red is known as punamulta (red earth). image from skandium.com
- Falu Rödfärg or punamulta is made with pigments from the Falun Mine in Dalarna/Sweden. The paint is created from ore with a low copper content that has decomposed over the centuries. In addition to copper, red mull contains a rare compound of iron ochre, silica and zinc.
- The Falun mine is actually a Unesco World Heritage site.A person can hike around the grounds, read information plaques, and learn about the iconic colour. To see photos of the mine and learn about visits underground, visit falugruva.se/en (the site is in English, just scroll down).
- Falu Rödfärg’s classic colour is not available as an exact paint number that can be mixed in a machine.The colour is created by experts who burn the pigment. It is a craft that has been handed down since the Falun mine started pigment manufacturing in 1764.
- In warm evening light, the red colour becomes intense, almost glowing.When the powder and linseed are mixed thoroughly, it creates a beautiful, matte finish. A translucent surface with course silicon dioxide crystals helps reflect rays of light.
- Houses that were painted a 100 years ago still have pigment granules that are red. The pigment is highly stable in terms of light.
- The paint produces an open coat that allows the wood to breathe.It lets in moisture, but equally allows moisture to evaporate quickly, minimizing the risk of rot.
- Falu Red paint was used as far back as the 1500s.Timber houses were painted red as symbols of wealth and status, mimicking the look of red brick buildings. Eventually it spread from the city to the countryside, first being used on the homes of the wealthy, then to farmers in the 1800s.
- Falu red is a traditional colour that remains popular today due to its effectiveness in preserving wood. Since the binder is starch, the paint is permeable to water. An upside, it only needs to be repainted every 20 years.
- NCS S5040-Y80R is the Swedish colour code for Falu red.
Do you now also have a little colour crush on Falu Red?! It’s kind of a cool story behind the pigment.
Note from Lainie:
When Mom and Dad go up to the cabin on Clearwater Lake this weekend, I’m going to see if Mom will take a few photos for me of some red cabins.
It’s kind of cool to actually see a piece of Finnish history on the lake. All of these years, I had no idea. It makes me wonder which cabins my Great Grandpa Johnson and William Juhala built and whether or not they made ours. Can you imagine?!
They probably didn’t but if they did, we would still have the logs they used. When my parents built their new place, they incorporated pieces of the old log cabin creatively into the design. I’ll share some pictures tomorrow so you can see!
And if you’re interested in reading more about the colour, here’s where I found some of the information shared: