STANDARDS

NGSS: Core Idea: ETS1.A, PS1.B

CCSS: Literacy in Science: 7

TEKS: 6.5C, 7.6A, 8.2E, C.2I

Monument Makeover

Discover why the Eiffel Tower is getting a new coat of paint

AS YOU READ, THINK ABOUT how people work to protect structures from wear and tear.

SERGEY BORISOV/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

For 132 years, the Eiffel Tower has been an iconic part of the skyline of Paris, France. Architect Gustave Eiffel constructed the tower in celebration of the 1889 World’s Fair. Today, the majestic “Iron Lady” is one of the most-visited monuments in the world. Keeping the tower standing tall after more than a century requires constant care—and regular coats of paint.

The Eiffel Tower is made of 7,300 tons of wrought iron. This type of iron is created by melting raw iron in a coal-powered furnace. A tiny amount of carbon (C) from the coal is added to the iron, resulting in an alloy, or metal mixture. The process also removes impurities and strengthens the material. Over time, though, iron can oxidize—chemically combine with oxygen (O)—resulting in weak spots and rust.

For 132 years, the Eiffel Tower has been a famous part of the skyline of Paris, France. Architect Gustave Eiffel built the tower for the 1889 World’s Fair. The tower is known as the “Iron Lady.” Today, this majestic tower is one of the most-visited monuments in the world. It takes constant care to keep the tower standing tall after more than a century. It also takes regular coats of paint. 

The Eiffel Tower is made of 7,300 tons of wrought iron. To make this type of iron, workers melt raw iron in a coal-powered furnace. A tiny amount of carbon (C) from the coal is added to the iron. This creates an alloy, or metal mixture. The process also removes unwanted materials and strengthens the iron. But over time, iron can oxidize, or chemically combine with oxygen (O). That causes weak spots and rust. 

MARTIN BUREAU/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

BIG JOB: Painting the entire Eiffel Tower takes about 18 months.

To protect the Eiffel Tower, workers periodically strip old paint from the structure, treat the surface with rust-proofing chemicals, and then repaint the entire monument. This happens about every seven years and is done mostly by hand. It takes about 61,000 liters (16,100 gallons) of paint to cover all 250,000 square meters (2.7 million square feet) of the tower. That’s an area the size of 47 football fields!

Over the years, the tower has been painted a variety of colors, including reddish brown, yellow, chestnut, and bronze. The structure’s most recent paint job began in 2019 and is set to be completed this year. The latest coat is a new golden hue in preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

To protect the Eiffel Tower, workers regularly strip old paint from the structure. Then they treat the surface with rust-proofing chemicals and repaint the entire monument. This happens about every seven years. The work is done mostly by hand. The tower’s surface area is 250,000 square meters (2.7 million square feet). That’s the size of 47 football fields! It takes about 61,000 liters (16,100 gallons) of paint to cover it.

Over the years, the tower has been painted different colors. It’s been reddish brown, yellow, chestnut, and bronze. The structure’s newest paint job began in 2019. It’s set to be completed within the next year. The latest coat is a new golden shade to prepare for the 2024 Paris Olympics.   

SSPL VIA GETTY IMAGES

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