Facility Maintenance Decisions

Savvy Specification Results in Higher ROI





The cost of applying paints and coatings are 10 percent material costs and 90 percent application tools and labor. Since application costs are nine times greater than material costs, a smart tactic for specifying paints and coatings is to follow three steps.

First, selecting products with highest performance benefits for the particular application will ensure that the finished product lasts longer. Labor costs that are spread over a longer application life will result in lower life-cycle costs for the job. While the highest-quality paint might have a higher first cost, it makes up for this potential problem with lowest life-cycle cost. In general, quality paints and coatings have a higher percent pigment content, which produces a thicker dry film per coat, enhancing all the other performance benefits. They retain color, withstand impact, are scrubable, have better insulation value, and provide a great deal of coverage per gallon.

Second, use the GHS labels and safety data sheet recommendations for steps workers can take to use products safely — for example, following steps for the proper use of personal protective equipment and respirators.

Third, use efficient application tools and methods. Managers find it is well worth the time and effort to implement them. For example, using a continuous-filling roller eliminates the time workers require to dip the roller, thereby reducing labor cost. Also, using an extension handle eliminates the need for workers to constantly move a ladder. And sizing brushes to the trim width reduces the overall time required to do trim by minimizing the number of passes.


Workers also can improve their efficiency by using standard painting policies, such as following guidelines on the frequency with which to spot-touch-up versus completely re-coating and using a standard time application worksheet to find best methods and least labor content. Supervisors who spend time observing the painters applying the product also might find additional ways to improve application methods and project safety, and they can identify areas in which workers require additional training to perform more productively and safely.

If managers combine products that have high-pigment content and proper performance characteristics with low-VOC products and sound application methods, they will attain the most effective combination of low
life-cycle costs, sustainability, and occupant health. 

Thomas A. Westerkamp is a maintenance and engineering management consultant and president of the work management division of Westerkamp Group LLC.




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  posted on 11/14/2013   Article Use Policy




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