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Manufacturers have responded to ongoing market demand for products that contain fewer volatile organic compounds (VOC) and improve indoor air quality by developing paints and coatings that are increasingly water-based.
Manufacturers also are rolling out products that offer improved levels of washability and durability to minimize post-application maintenance.
"If you've got long hallways, kitchens or bathrooms in high-traffic areas and you know that the surface is going to get damaged by stains or people putting their hands on it, the coatings with better washability can save you a lot of money in the long run," says Steve Revnew of Sherwin-Williams. "They may be more expensive up front, but in the long run, they're a longer-lasting coating because the stains will wash off."
With labor factoring significantly into the cost of a project, an initial investment in a more durable product will likely pay off over time.
"The price of a gallon of paint is typically 25 percent or less of any coating project, with the remainder being labor," says Nathon Laws of Rust-Oleum. "Spending more on quality products up front will result in a longer coating life, better asset protection, and reduced labor through less repaints."
With so many different products on the market, managers should carefully research their options to find the most appropriate product to match project needs.
"Sometimes in the specification process, people assume that one paint fits all needs, and they don't necessarily look at the many options available, and they specifically look at what is the right paint product for the job," Revnew says.
"They may look at a particular flat wall paint that is good for hallways and different rooms, but then for a kitchen or bathroom, it should be a different kind of coating.
Managers "should work with a manufacturer and collaborate about the needs of the job, the expectations of the job, the expectations of the level of performance, and what the expectations of the life cycle are before they plan to repaint."
As facilities strive to meet sustainability demands and become more environmentally friendly, one of the ongoing trends for paints and coatings is specifying products that are low in VOCs. But managers need to be aware that not all low-VOC products are guaranteed to produce the results required for some projects.
"Making a judgment merely on VOC is another potential mistake," O'Reilly says. "There are areas of the country that require low-VOC products and have eliminated oil-based products, or there are initiatives to have a green facility.
"I'm not going to advocate high-VOC products across the board, but I do think you need to be selective and look at how heavy the wear is, how often the surface is touched or how often it is exposed to chemicals. Water-based coatings are going to handle the main hallway. But in quasi-industrial commercial areas, you may be better off using oil, even if you have to buy it in quarts."
Managers too often fall into the trap of not keeping up with new formulations and materials and, as a result, overlook products that can deliver longer life cycles.
"Be up and current on where technology is going," O'Reilly says. "There is a lot happening in the water-based side of the business. In epoxies and floor coatings, and direct metals, there's a whole bevy of categories out there that are improving rapidly, and some are superseding some of the oils in flexibility."
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