The American Coatings Association (ACA) is an established organization acting as a representative of and advocate for the paint and coatings industry with a history approaching 130 years. In 2010, the organization changed its name from the National Paint & Coatings Association to the American Coatings Association in recognition of its new identity as an association that represents both companies and professionals working in the paint and coatings industry.

This timeline demonstrates ACA’s storied history. For a more complete account of industry and association history, view our 125th Anniversary commemorative booklet.

ACA Anniversary Booklet


Thomas Child established the first paint mill in Boston, Mass., importing two grinding mill stones, known as the “Boston Stone” for use in his paint shop.

The original grindstone from Thomas Child’s paint mill


D.R. Averill patented the first prepared or ready-mixed paints in Ohio.


Paint factories were established and began to compete for business.

Local paint societies were formed in New England and St. Louis, followed by Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh.


The National Paint, Oil and Varnish Association – the first national organization to represent the paint industry – was formed at a meeting on Sept. 11 in Saratoga N.Y.


The national association initiated efforts to encourage U.S. President Benjamin Harrison to add a Department of Commerce to his Cabinet.


Paint manufacturers created the Paint Grinders Association of the United States because they felt that their branch of the industry had its own specific concerns.


The first “Non-Exchange Agreement” was adopted to put an end to competitive practices that allowed salesmen to convince a retailer to replace the current stock with the salesman’s brand of paint.


The Paint Grinders Association established the Trademark Bureau.

The industry’s first state government affairs program was organized by the Paint Grinder’s Association. They gave the secretary, George Baugh Heckel, $10 per state to pay local individuals for reports of new paint legislation.

George Baugh Heckel

Lithopone and Tung oil (China wood oil) first appear for use in the American paint and varnish industry.

Chinese Wood Oil in Barrels


The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) established the precursor to the D-1 Committee on Paint and Related Coatings Materials.


U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt added a Department of Commerce to his Cabinet, a proposal initiated by the association in 1891.

Varnish manufacturers banded together to establish their own association: The National Varnish Manufacturers Association.


The Paint Grinder’s Association formed the Bureau of Promotion and Development. Later that year, the bureau would challenge legislation in North Dakota requiring that paint be composed of pure white lead and pure linseed oil. The legislation passed in North Dakota, and similar laws were subsequently adopted by other states.


The Paint Grinders Association changed its name to the Paint Manufacturers Association.


The Bureau of Promotion and Development was renamed the Educational Bureau, and would remain in operation for a quarter of a century.


The Scientific Section of the Educational Bureau was created, with Dr. Henry A. Gardner as its director. He held the post until 1945.


John R. MacGregor pioneers formation of paint and varnish clubs in St. Louis and Louisville and is known as “father of the production club movement.”


The Clean-Up and Paint-Up Committee was formed with Allen W. Clark, a St. Louis publisher, as chairman. The committee was originally Clark’s idea, and he developed a campaign plan in 1912.

Clean-Up and Paint-Up Campaign Kit

On Dec. 18, twelve men representing eight local manufacturers organized the first paint and varnish club at Hollenden Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio.


Paint plant managers, superintendents, and chemists attend annual meetings of the National Varnish Manufacturers Association (NVMA), a sign of a growing trend toward cooperation of technical production individuals in the industry.


Ernest W. Trigg, director of the Publicity Section of the Educational Bureau, received approval from the Paint Manufacturers Association to run a consumer education campaign. The campaign would be launched several years later with the theme “Save the Surface and You Save it All.”


On June 14, the Federation of Paint and Varnish Production Clubs (Federation) was organized.


Companies began to add college trained chemists to their staffs and chemical formulas began to replace recipe books, moving the industry from art to science.

The National Paint, Oil and Varnish Association took over sponsorship of the Clean-Up and Paint-Up Bureau.


Varnish manufacturer and paint manufacturer associations were consolidated into the American Paint and Varnish Manufacturers Association.


The first Federation members were appointed to Technical Advisory Committee of the Educational Bureau, marking the beginning of a cooperative technical relationship between the Federation and the American Paint and Varnish Manufacturers’ Association.


On Oct. 16, the association purchased property on New York Avenue in Washington, D.C. and dedicated it to Educational Bureau founder and chairman, Norris B. Gregg.

Educational Bureau Building on New York Avenue in Washington DC


The National Paint, Oil, and Varnish Association and the American Paint and Varnish Manufacturers Association consolidated into the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association (NPVLA).


The “Cincinnati Agreement” was adopted by NPVLA to eliminate unfair competitive practices.


A new headquarters of the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association was dedicated at 1500 Rhode Island Avenue in Washington, D.C.

1940 Renovation of the 1500 Rhode Island Avenue Building

1500 Rhode Island Avenue

1500 Rhode Island Avenue, Lobby

The first paint roller was invented, and changed the way paint is applied.

The Federation committee initiates research and production studies on creating camouflage paints.


The Clean-Up and Paint-Up program was officially titled the National Clean-Up – Paint-Up – Fix-Up Bureau.

Campaign signage for the program

Industry volume reaches a billion dollars for the first time.


Portable canned spray paint was invented by Edward Seymour to showcase his aluminum paint for radiators. Edward Seymour’s wife Bonnie suggested the use of an aerosol can filled with paint.


Verne C. Bidlack and Edgar W. Fasig publish The Paint and Varnish Production Manual.


NPVLA issued the first Labeling Guide.


NPVLA, in cooperation with the Federal Civil Defense Administration, produced a film, The House in the Middle, which asserted that homes painted with reflective white paint have an increased chance of survivability during an atomic event. In 2001, the Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Still frames from “The House in the Middle” film


The Federation establishes High School Science Teachers Seminar in Paint Technology at North Dakota Agricultural College to help encourage interest in paint industry careers.


The Federation forms the Paint Research Institute (PRI) to advance state of knowledge and training in the paint industry, by sponsoring short and long-term research projects.


Ecological and safety considerations became especially significant factors in the
development of new coatings formulations.

The Federation of Paint and Varnish Production Clubs changes its name to Federation of Societies for Paint Technology.


The association formed Verlan Limited, a wholly owned captive insurance company, which provided general/product liability insurance and property coverage.


The National Paint, Varnish, and Lacquer Association became the National Paint and Coatings Association (NPCA).


The Federation celebrates its 50th anniversary.


The Federation of Societies for Paint Technology changes its name to Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology (FSCT).


The association formed a Product Safety Task Force to focus on the proposed Toxic Substances Control Act, proper respiratory protection during spray applications of paints and coatings, as well as other related issues.


The federal government banned lead in paint used in residential structures; many paint manufacturers had discontinued the use of lead pigments in consumer paints in the 1950s.


The International Committee for Coordinating Activities of Technical Groups in the Coatings Industry (ICCATCI) was formed in Paris, by FSCT and technical groups from around the world.


NPCA introduced its Hazardous Materials Identification System® (HMIS®), which was designed to provide hazard information associated with raw materials to paint industry employees. A few years later, companies using HMIS® would be considered in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s Hazard Communications Standard.

NPCA created the “Picture it Painted” campaign to promote paint products to consumers and to enhance the paint industry’s image.

Picture it Painted Campaign


Computerized in-store paint matching was introduced, making it possible to analyze any paint sample and provide a perfect match.


NPCA funded a coalition called SAFE, the “Solvent Abuse Foundation for Education,” to confront the issue of spray paint inhalant abuse.


PRI officially changes its name to the Coatings Industry Education Fund (CIEF).


The association celebrated its centennial anniversary, and the historic NPCA headquarters was renovated to showcase a variety of decorative painting techniques.

Before and After, Decorative painting in lobby

The Association Celebrates 100 Years


NPCA formed a network of state-based paint councils beginning in California and New Jersey and growing to 10 councils representing 11 states across the nation.


A new NPCA member program – the Pollution Prevention Program – was established to promote product stewardship within the industry, with the goal of preventing environmental pollution through effective material utilization, waste minimization and reduction of toxic releases.

Pollution Prevention Program Award


NPCA joins with industry associations from Europe, Mexico, Japan and Canada to form the International Paint and Printing Ink Council (IPPIC).

First IPPIC Meeting


The Industry Outreach Program was created to address misconceptions about the industry through education of and communication with key industry audiences.


The association established the National Council to Prevent Delinquency (NCPD) to monitor legislation on aerosol paints and to educate those who might be influenced by the portrayal of graffiti vandalism as “cool.”


NPCA’s Management Information Committee oversaw development of the new publication, the U.S. Paint & Coatings Industry Market Analysis, which provided a comprehensive market overview of U.S. Census Bureau industry data, expert analysis of various coatings market sectors, and a forecast of driving forces influencing the industry.

NPCA establishes a web site:


NPCA launched the Community Lead Education and Reduction Corps (CLEARCorps) in partnership with the University of Maryland to educate communities about possible risks associated with lead-based paint in older housing.


Coatings Care®, a voluntary health, safety and environmental initiative, was developed by the association to assist member companies in complying with the diverse regulatory requirements for worker, customer and environmental safety.

FSCT celebrates its 75th anniversary.


NPCA established a political action committee, PaintPAC, to provide an additional forum in which to educate decision makers on important industry issues.


IPPIC sponsored the first Coatings Summit in collaboration with German publisher Vincentz Network.


IPPIC was granted Non-governmental Organization (NGO) status from the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

NPCA sponsored the National Training Program for Lead-Safe Work Practices in Renovation and Remodeling, which was designed to educate contractors, facility managers, landlords, and children’s health advocates about lead safe practices.


NPCA partnered with German publisher Vincentz Network to establish the American Coatings Show and Conference. The first event was held in June 2008.

Through a Strategic Planning process with the Board of Directors, the association established several new programs: the Legal Issues Tracking & Amicus Program; the Communications Outreach Program; Coatings Connect, a grassroots issue advocacy program; and the Science and Technology Program.


The first American Coatings Show (ACS) and American Coatings Conference were held June 2 – 5, in Charlotte, N.C.

At the ACS post-show press conference, NPCA announced an agreement to merge with the Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology (FSCT), a long-established organization representing the interests of coatings industry professionals.


A work group of 50 association members was formed to address Green Building standards with regard to the coatings industry.


The association changed its name to American Coatings Association, Inc., adopted a new logo and a new mission, which focuses on the interests of both companies and technical professionals in the coatings industry.

ACA established PaintCare, a non-profit organization designed to provide a system for the collection of post-consumer architectural paint and the management of its end-of-product life, including reuse, recycling, energy recovery, and proper disposal.


An ACA work group developed a Sustainability Awareness message touting the benefits of coatings as products that extend the useful life of many man-made objects and, in some cases, also reduce energy consumption.


IPPIC celebrates its 20th Anniversary.

The association commemorates its 125th Anniversary.


The NCPD celebrated its 20th anniversary and changed its name to Graffiti Resource Council (GRC) to focus its resources solely on combatting graffiti vandalism.