What Most People Don’t Know About the Eiffel Tower

There’s little doubt that just about everyone on the planet is familiar with the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but there’s one thing that the average person may not know: It has been repainted 19 times since its initial construction. Painting takes place once every 7 years to protect the iconic monument from oxidation. It has changed color several times, passing from red-brown to yellow-ochre, then to chestnut brown, and finally to the bronze of today. The Eiffel Tower was built using puddle iron, a material that's practically indestructible if it’s regularly repainted. There are various factors that can threaten this type of metal, including rust, pollution, and bird droppings. A team of 50 painters — all of them specialists in working on metallic structures at great heights — strip, clean, and apply rust-proofing before the final coat of paint. Even today, the painters still work using traditional methods dating back to Gustave Eiffel’s day, and the painting of the 984-foot tower is done mostly by hand. The picture below shows the shades of paint that have been used over the decades. Needless to say, the painters are equipped with harnesses, and their security is ensured thanks to the systematic installation of safety lines that allow them to move freely while remaining attached to the tower at all times. Safety nets are fitted to secure the work areas and catch any paint flakes. All of the tools used are attached to the painters’ belts or wrists, including paint, pots and brushes. Painting campaigns typically last between 18 months and 3 years, with interruptions due to the weather. That's because painting is impossible if the structure is too cold and it doesn’t stick well if the structure is wet. The last repainting was completed in 2019.