The history of a groundbreaking idea
There were three outstanding personalities at the beginning of revolutionary mineral-paint invention: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, King Ludwig I of Bavaria, and last-but-not-least, the tradesman and researcher A.W. Keim, the inventor of silicate paint. The basis of his 1878 patented mineral paint was a mixture of liquid potassium silicate (waterglass) and inorganic colour pigments. The result: A high-quality silicate paint system that offers performance, durability, protection and colour-fastness that remains unsurpassed.
Buildings decorated with KEIM paints in the 19th century are still in excellent condition today. Amongst such examples are the “White Eagle” Inn in Stein am Rhein and the City Hall in Schwyz (1891), both of which are in Switzerland, and facades in Oslo (1895) and Traunstein, Germany (1891).
Potassium silicate has been known about since the Middle Ages, when it was termed Liquor Silicium. Good production and application possibilities, however, did not exist at that time. In 1768, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had great hopes for his initial experiments with waterglass. In the 8th book of “Facts and Fiction” he wrote: “What most occupied my spirit for a long while was the so-called Liquor Silicium which is obtained if pure quartz sand is melted with an adequate proportion of alkali, giving rise to a transparent glass which melts in air yielding a beautiful clear liquid...”.
However, Goethe was unable to translate his thoughts into any practical uses. The catalyst for Adolf Keim's development work was King Ludwig I of Bavaria. This monarch had a great passion for the arts. He longed to experience fine Italian lime fresco work in his own kingdom in Bavaria. But the harsh climate north of the Alps destroyed such frescos within a short time. He, therefore, called upon Bavarian scientists to develop a paint that was of similar appearance to lime frescos but also had much greater durability.
The unique and convincing solution to these requirements was KEIM's silicate paints. What was truly groundbreaking about A.W. Keim’s invention was the bond between paint and brickwork. KEIM’s classic mineral paint was able to strengthen and expand its position as the leading mineral paint for facades due to consistent further development of the product’s positive properties and targeted adaptation to various types of substrates.
In a time of pressing environmental problems, our wishes to see environmentally-friendly, permanent and excellent high-quality paints have become stronger. This wish was met with a far larger mineral product range. In short, a continually young idea continues to prevail.
Technical information for painting
Adolf Wilhelm Keim (1851-1913) is well-known not only for the mineral paints named after him, which are still produced by KEIM today. In 1884 he founded the "Technische Mitteilungen für Malerei" to inform about commercial paints and to raise awareness of abuses in the paint industry. Today, the "Technische Mitteilungen für Malerei" is one of the main sources of information on art technology and restoration history. They are available for research online.
Milestones in silicate technology
The first real-world solution as a pure silicate paint.
In 1878, A.W. Keim developed the first silicate paint fit for practical usage. It consists of a powder component with mineral colour pigments and fillers, together with a liquid component: potassium silicate as the binding agent.
Invention of the single-component silicate emulsion paint.
The second generation of silicate paints followed in 1962 with KEIM Granital. The one-component, ready-to-use „silicate emulsion paint“ is easier to handle and safer to use.
Universal sol-silicate paint for all substrates.
In 2002, the development of „sol-silicate paint“ revolutionised the facade market. Based on a completely novel binding principle, it opens the doors for application on practically all usual substrates.
Mineral protection of wood surfaces. A milestone!
Following many years of development work and corresponding practical tests, KEIM Lignosil, the world's first mineral composite coating for weather protection of wood, was launched in 2013.
Opening of the first "Lokale Farbwerkstatt".
Ten years of development have gone into the KEIM PigmentPowderFluids (PPF), which revolutionised the KEIM-specific powder tinting process in 2019. The fluidised powder pigments enable localised tinting for the first time via the "KEIM Local Colour Studio". The special feature: The unique KEIM quality criteria remain absolutely unchanged!