Planning Painting Projects That Perform
Part one of a three-part article on paints and coatings
Successful painting projects can give key areas of institutional and commercial facilities a new dose of vitality, and they can protect important components, from walls and doors to handrails and equipment. The challenge for maintenance managers overseeing applications of paints and coatings in their facilities is coordinating an array of issues related to planning, preparation and performance.
Whether the challenge is selecting appropriate paints and coatings, preparing troublesome surfaces, or using the most appropriate application equipment, manufacturers of paints and coatings can be important resources for managers seeking to deliver successful projects.
Central to any successful paint application project is specifying the most appropriate, high-quality paint or coating.
“The first challenge is quality,” says Rick Watson with Sherwin-Williams. “Maintenance managers and painters understand the value of quality paints and the outcome from using quality paint. It makes them look better. They want their project to look like a quality project.”
Manufacturers say one common roadblock to successful specification is information — or more accurately, outdated information in written specifications.
“A lot of specifiers will have boilerplate specs,” says Tim O’Reilly with Behr. “It’s surprising how many you run across that specify products that no longer exist. Or (the products) aren’t compliant in the market in which they’re taking place.
“Because of all the changes taking place in the last 25 years because of regulations — at least three or four different levels of regulations across the country from the South Coast (Air Quality Management District) to the EPA — a lot of times people will just pick up a spec that actually isn’t applicable. It slows down things because the contractor is trying to bid on a project with products that they can’t acquire in that market or that are no longer available.”
O’Reilly recommends that managers review paint and coating specifications at least annually to make sure new formulations have not superseded them.
“Otherwise, it sets the wrong trajectory for the job,” O’Reilly says.
In the case of the information challenge, manufacturers are both the cause and the potential solution.
“For manufacturers, there are constant changes, whether it’s taking a product to zero VOCs or adjusting the way that it applies,” says Jenny Burroughs with PPG, referring to volatile organic compounds. “It can be difficult for specifiers to know what products are up to date and what the current product codes and names are. They need to be well-connected with manufacturers to keep specs up to date. That will help specifiers avoid more problems when it comes to the actual painters.
“They need to keep specifications up to date and having substitute products within a specification. It’s important to have the right substitute so painters are able to feel that they can quickly substitute.”
Because facilities contain different areas and substrates, and because each application presents specific demands related to performance, Burroughs advises managers to give themselves options during specification.
“It’s good to have different systems that are available — something like a good-better-best system,” she says. “As you go up in cost, you get improved performance. Maybe there are some cases where you don’t require as much performance. Maybe you have a tenant coming in and you don’t expect them to stay long, or you have a tenant who is only using certain rooms or parts of the building. Maybe you want to use a lower-cost — or a good — system, rather than choosing the best and knowing you’re going to have to repaint in a year.”