Eiffel Tower Repainting Could Restore Old Color


The iconic Eiffel Tower is due for its latest coat of paint, and French officials are debating bringing the monument back to its original color, a bright red.

The three-year project, slated to begin in October and continue through 2021, is also part of a larger endeavor that will see the addition of safety amenities.

Painting Project

According to The Local, after an original "Venetian red" shop-applied coating on its iron structure, the Eiffel Tower was painted an orange yellow at its base and light yellow at the top in 1899, and from 1907 to 1954, the monument was a yellow-brown. In 1968, it was repainted brown-red. To date, the structure has had 19 different paint jobs, and with the 20th set to start this year, bringing the structure back to its red roots is being discussed.

French civil engineer and architect Gustave Eiffel, best known for his work on the monument, noted in his writings early on in the structure's existence that the tower’s original red coating made it easier to protect the structure from rust.

The original coating was composed of bright red iron minium from Venice, linseed oil and flaxseed oil. 

Currently, the structure is painted a specially designed shade of brown.

Older colors on the structure will be uncovered and investigated to determine what color should be chosen for this project.

"We will rediscover and revive these old colours, like we do when we restore an old painting," a specialist from the Ministry of Culture and City noted. "This will give some food for thought as to whether or not to add nuances to the current hue."

If an older color is chosen, experts hope they will be able to recreate it.

According to Traveller, the Eiffel Tower is repainted every seven years, by hand, and will take 60 tons of paint to cover the 10,000-ton structure. The last repainting, which began in 2010, reportedly used an iron-oxide pigment from Lanxess AG to color a two-coat urethanized alkyd system.

This latest update to the Iron Lady is part of an overarching 15-year plan that will also provide additional safety amenities, namely a bullet-proof palisade around its base, which will prevent individuals or vehicles from storming the site. The security measure is in part a response to the heightened terror threat in Paris.

Eiffel Tower Structure

According to the monument's website, the structure was built out of puddle iron, a material with a long lifespan that only requires regular repainting in terms of upkeep.

When repainting is required, techniques dating back to Gustave Eiffel’s day, namely painting by hand, are used; the use of spray guns is ruled out, as is remote work, and 25 painters complete the work. For previous paint jobs, the budget has been around 4 million euros ($4.9 million). 

Editor's Note: Information in the article was corrected from 60,000 tons of paint to 60 tons of paint.


Tagged categories: EU; Europe; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Monuments; Paint application; Program/Project Management

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