Mpumalanga Province Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport


AP Certon

The Application of Self Coat in Pilgrim’s Rest

Pilgrim’s Rest the birth place of the gold industry in South Africa, has a history dating back to the 1880s. After the mining operations ceased it was purchased by the government in 1974. The town which is the only of its kind in the Western World, is being restored to its former glory and has already developed to a tourist attraction of international renown. Pilgrim’s Rest is a declared National Monument and therefore all restoration is of a high scientific quality.

Corrugated Iron

Pilgrim’s Rest consists mainly of wood-and-iron structures. Restoration of these structures necessitates the use of new corrugated iron, especially for roofing. Initially structures had to be left unpainted for long periods of time in order for the corrugated iron to weather. Despite this and pre-wash with acid, no paint was found to adhere successfully to the new sheeting. Roofs and to an extent the iron cladded walls had to be repainted on a regular basis. (In all instances the specifications and preparations of the paint producers were strictly adhered to and they even provided on site assistance).

In 1990, we were introduced to Self-Coat. After years of scepticism about paints, we decided to use these paints on the brand new roofs of the present offices of Public Works. It was a major success and to date there has been no peeling, no blistering and above all no discolouration.

Self-Coat have also assured us that it is not necessary to replace rusted corrugated iron as the product would seal and preserve it. This was also, fairly unwillingly, put to the test in 1992. When the rusted roof of house H23 (Proprietor Royal Hotel) was painted with Self-Coat. The results were astounding and to date the roof looks exactly like it did when it was painted. It was also experienced that Self-Coat applies easier and adheres better to old sheeting.

The following buildings have subsequently been painted with Self-Coat and are examples of the exceptional qualities of the product:

H23 – Rambler’s House (Exterior)
H24 – Residence (Exterior)
H50 – Royal Cottage (Exterior)
X38 – Scotts Café (Roof)
C1 – Residence (Roof)
District Six Holiday Cottages (Exterior and interior)
Pilgrim’s Hotel (Exterior)
Royal Hotel (Roof)
Drezden Shop Museum (Exterior)
Belvedere Guest House (Exterior)

Brick Work/ Plaster

The permanent structures in Pilgrim’s Rest are mostly constructed with raw and unbaked brocks often using only mud and mortar. Very few buildings have any form of damp course and with the high rainfall of the area it leads to big problems relating to moisture in walls. Initially all attempts to solve these problems were in vain. We even went to the extreme to demolish and reconstruct buildings to solve the problem. For example at the dormitories at the Veld School (old nurses and single quarters) where the walls were so damp that the wooden sash windows, door frames and floors had to be replaced every second year. Since our introduction to Self-Coat we have found that the product can be applied to damp walls with great success. Buildings such as the exterior of the Belvedere Guest House and the Printing Museum are examples of where it had been applied very successfully.

The dampness within the old bricks contributes towards a major problem with efflorescence. The worse affected building was the Pilgrim’s and Sabie News Printing Museum where it was decided to use Self-Coat in an attempt to combat the problem. The results have been unbelievable and no trace of any efflorescence is visible since it has been painted.

The reaction of Self-Coat to water is probably best depicted by the showers at the Veld School. The walls were so damp that tiling and re-tiling became a futile operation. The damp conditions also promoted the growth of algae which could not be controlled. The walls and ceilings were subsequently painted with Self-Coat thus providing an affordable solution to the problem. Furthermore no traces of algae have since been found. It is unthinkable that any product can adhere to a damp wall while it is also constantly subjected to moisture from the outside. Over the past years it has never required a repaint or even a touch up.


One of the major problems in Pilgrim’s Rest is the rapid deterioration of all woodwork (verandas, windows, etc.) which is exposed to the sun. According to the Architect who was responsible for the restoration of the Royal Hotel Complex, Mr Leon Holzapfel (Indusplan 012 348 3047), it is due to very high UV radiation. This results in the life span of wood being less than a year. Many products have been used over the years but the problem could not be solved.

We have experimented with the use of Self-Coat on all exterior woodwork of the Bank House. Thus far the results are in line with what we have come to expect from Self-Coat and we sincerely believe that the problem is solved.


The occupational Health and Safety Act has specific sections dealing with paints and volatile chemicals. The manner in which the Act expects these compounds to be stored and used leads to large expenditure. Self-Coat, being such a unique, in my opinion falls outside the parameters of the Act which makes it an easy product to use.

The use of the present known brands of paint has forced us to take preventative measures when out painters work on the interior of structures and especially in confined spaces. Because Self-Coat emits no HAPs and is VOC free it poses no health risk and no measures have to be taken when it is used. Our painters are unanimous in their appraisal of the product.


From the previous it is quite clear that large amounts were expended on restoration in the past. If Self-Coat was used from the onset, the savings on corrugated iron, various paints and products and even the demolishing of structures could have run into the millions.

The retail price of Self-Coat compares favourably with the price of the other commercial paints, but real saving lies in the durability of Self-Coat. The fact that structures don’t have to be repainted on a regular basis has already saved this office a substantial amount.

Most Important Properties

In our use of Self-Coat over the past years the following are the important qualities of Self-Coat I have come to respect:
- Durability
- Economy
- Flexibility as it can be used on any surface
- Ease with which it is applied
Healthy as it is VOC free and thus environmentally friendly
- Availability of colours and colourfastness

It seems like Self-Coat can solve any problem.

Products used