History of Latex Use

Latex paint has been used on homebuilt aircraft for the past few decades. A quick search on the internet will turn up lots of information on the subject and many of them can be found in the links provided below. These include early experimenters, different application techniques, and tests of durability and UV protection. I used these sites and their information as the basis for my own experimenting with latex paint. Some of the early latex users primed the fabric with black paint theorizing  that since black blocked visible light the best, that it would also block UV light the best.

One of the best sources for early information in using latex paint on an airplane comes from Drew Fidoe and can be found on the Fly Baby site link below.  Drew applied the primer and finish paint with a foam rolled and foam brush.  He mixed the paint with windshield washer fluid and Floetrol (a product to help latex paint flow better). Drew used 220 and 400 grit sandpaper to smooth and level the primer to make a good base for the color coats.  His Fly Baby was finished in an camouflage pattern with semi-gloss latex and came out looking very nice.  Drew also experimented with Xylene to remove latex paint to make repairs.

Kirk Huizenga produced an excellent scientific report on the “Ultraviolet Absorption of Latex Paint”.  In it, he compares Poly-Brush, Green, White, and Black latex to see how each would block UV light.  Measurements using a very impressive sounding spectrometer produced some interesting results.  His tests showed that latex paint does a very good job of blocking UV, and thereby protecting the fabric.  Further it showed that the choice of color made little difference, though white was actually a little better due to the amount of titanium oxide used in the paint.