Custom Painting Steel Siding

Arborvitae Green

To my friends Jim Betonte, the Oglevie Brothers (Mike, Doug and Randy) and Kimron Leach – this blog’s for you!

Somewhere about 35 million years ago the Willamette River of Oregon was created by plate tectonics. A few miles to the south of what was Willamette Falls, the river makes a sharp bend, and on the outside of this bend, it started to pile up sand. Lots of sand…..about 200 feet deep of sand. One heck of a kitty litter box.

In the 1970’s this sand box – between the river and Highway 99 East became the property of an elderly couple – W.C. and Evie Robinson. When I opened my first business in 1981, they were my landlords. An interesting pair, W.C. could not hear and Evie was born deaf – but they took a liking to me.

On this property was an 800 square foot building which had housed many a small business, and it was my first office. I ended up buying the property from the Robinson’s and Clackamas County decided I needed to do some upgrades in order to conform to their idea of how the property should be used.

One of these was to plant a row of arborvitaes to block the view of my lumber yard from the eyes of the folks speeding by on the highway. And I had to pledge to keep them alive. Arborvitaes are supposedly easy to grow and maintain. They prefer moist, well drained soil. My 200 feet deep sand box certainly drained well – I could pour a glass of water out on it, and the water would be in the nearby Willamette River in no time! The moist thing – it wasn’t working so well.

Sadly, in spite of both the perpetual rains of the Willamette Valley and prolonged use of sprinklers, the arborvitae expired. They actually looked rather petrified – as the greenery turned to a lovely shade of brown.

The Oglevie Brothers all worked for me and one or more of them came up with a brilliant idea – paint them. They had a friend in the paint business who mixed up five gallons of “arborvitae green” and we spray painted them! So much easier than watering and they appeared to be alive for years. County stayed happy, I was happy and the water bill was lower.

Green BuildingAll of this talk about paint began earlier today – when Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Doug had a client ask him about getting steel roofing and siding panels for his building which they would be custom painting steel siding and roofing to match Sherwin Williams “Meadow Trail Green”.

Well, the answer is yes, but it would probably be overly painful. At the very least, the client would need to purchase an entire coil of steel – about 10-12,000 pounds worth, which would cover somewhere around 15,000 square feet of building surface. Approximate cost $50,000. I suggested the client might consider investing in one of the readily available green colors, and repainting his other building or buildings to match.

The next question, of course, was if they could buy the steel roofing and siding just primed, ready for them to paint – this would rank right there with custom paint colors. The clients could order steel in any color and then repaint it – but it would not be without cost and effort (read more at:

If anyone has done this at a reasonable cost and the custom paint job withstood the test of time, please update me!

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