Anti-Trend: The Timeless Impact of Black


Twenty-first-century design trends are changing how we think about the use of black in architecture. Architects who want to create standout appeal — without bright colors or busy design — are more frequently turning to the darkest end of the color spectrum.

The Archéologie d'Alsace conservation and study center in Sélestat, France, features a black façade created with Keim Concretal Pigmented Mineral Stain color 9008, which sets the building apart from — but maintains harmony with — its natural surroundings. PHOTO: COURtESY OF KEIM FRANCE SAS

Black — seen as authoritative, provocative, chic and sometimes haunting — is a striking choice for almost any architectural style and never fails to make a bold statement. It can amplify modern architecture, sharpening its lines or drawing focus to distinctive details. It can also breathe new life into aged exteriors, replacing dated hues with a timeless color.

But planning to use black on a building façade can strike fear in the hearts and minds of architects and designers. Read on to learn why.

Keim Soldalit 9008 was used on the exterior of 20 Farringdon Road, London. PHOTO: courtesy of keim minerals paints ltd

Granital color RAL716 and Concretal W color 9477 were specified by Germak Architecture for its design of the Résidence Acacia in Montreuil, France. photo: courtesy of keim france sas

This office building was painted with Concretal Pigmented Mineral Stain color 9008. photo: courtesy of keim france sas


A painted black building causes unique concerns. Will the surface get too hot in sunlight? Will the color fade and look washed out? Will black with certain gloss finishes accentuate flaws?

Mineral silicate paints address these very real issues:

Overheating. Keim finishes feature a mineral matrix that refracts and scatters sunlight. The applied paint radiates light in a way that ordinary acrylic paints cannot, reducing the thermal gain of a surface — even when painted absolute black.

Fading. Typical acrylic paints can fade soon after application, requiring frequent maintenance to keep black looking its best. By contrast, Keim pure mineral pigments and finishes carry a 20-year guarantee against fading. As proof of their ability to withstand even the harshest UV light while remaining unchanged, there are Keim paint projects throughout Europe that have performed beautifully for more than 140 years.

Highlighting flaws. The use of black can certainly draw attention to surface defects and design flaws, especially in glossier paint sheens, such as satin or semi-gloss. Keim mineral paints and stains have a matte finish — sometimes described as dead flat — that displays no angular sheen, even in severe "raking" light.

The John Lewis Store in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, was given its distinctive look with Keim Concretal Pigmented Mineral Stain color 9008. photo: courtesy of keim mineral paints ltd


For a clean, minimalist look and added “wow” factor, strip down to basic black. It grabs the attention of passersby and makes a strong visual statement. Its achromatic simplicity can accentuate architectural details. It can also provide contrast and distinction when used against natural backdrops — such as vivid foliage or snow-covered landscapes — or with other hues, textures and mixed materials.

The Petzl Distribution Center in Crolles, France, was painted in Concretal Pigmented Mineral Stain color 9008 by Paul Et Seguin Architectes. PHOTO: COURTESY OF KEIM FRANCE SAS

To learn more about black mineral finishes for concrete, brick, masonry and stucco, visit keim-usa.com/colors.

*Claims or positions expressed by sponsoring authors do not necessarily reflect the views of TPC, Durability + Design or its editors.





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