Specifying Paints for Performance and Sustainability
By Thomas A. Westerkamp - March 2012 - Green
Specifying formulations that meet application demands for performance and sustainability has become so complex that some managers have turned to experts who perform a paint-performance audit. The expert uses the audit to assess and evaluate the choice of coatings for each specific application in a facility, then recommends the proper product and application method to optimize the aesthetic requirements and provide long-term performance.
Among the benefits of this process:
- identifying the most cost-effective solution for a facility's paint and coating problems
- achieving practical solutions, not theoretical lab solutions
- reducing the risk of failure and protection against claims or losses
- defining work standards
- complying with applicable performance standards
- balancing coating selection in order to minimize cost and maximize applicability
- ensuring surface preparation
- determining the best film thickness and acceptance test and criteria
- providing expert witness to support potential litigation
- providing access to a database of failure modes and lasting remedial solutions.
For particularly difficult paint and coating applications — such as those with high humidity or temperature, a corrosive atmosphere, or dirt — managers might consider employing a paint testing lab to analyze the situation and devise a solution that works properly the first time and for a long time. While testing costs might be high, unmet user demands or repeated failure might be even more costly in terms of money, time, materials, and disruption of facility activities.
The key to ensuring an effective match between paint and substrate is understanding label and material safety data sheet (MSDS) information, which is available from the vendor. The paint must protect the substrate while meeting a facility's need for proper air quality and sustainability. Products with high pigment percentages are more costly but offer greater surface protection and better hiding qualities.
Managers might have other objectives, though. For example, with the emphasis on energy efficiency, the goal might be to use paint with a ceramic additive, which provides insulation by adding an invisible, radiant-heat-reflecting barrier. For a high-visibility reception area, managers might need to specify a surfactant to reduce surface tension and smooth out brush marks.
New VOC-free rheology modifier additives have been formulated to improve pigment dispersal, provide good leveling, and resist sagging. They also prevent misting and paint scatter during application.