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Durability: Benefits of High-Performance Paints and Coatings

By Rick Watson 

Facility managers face an important task when determining how to protect the surfaces of buildings against daily wear and tear. Being knowledgeable about the latest developments in high-performance coatings can help facility managers balance certain environmental conditions while keeping up the appearance of the space. It’s also critical for facility managers to understand how durability is defined in relation to coatings to aid in selection of the right product for a given environment.

By understanding the benefits of different paints, facility managers can focus on proper product selection for specific areas of the facility. When evaluating the durability of coatings, it is important to consider resistance to stains, dirt and burnishing, scrubs and washability in addition to features like hide, mildew resistance, and ease of application. Durability is more than a scrub number or even a washability number, so facility managers have to consider all the features of a coating that add up to providing maximum durability.

Evolution of Coatings Additives

The new generation of high-performance coatings balances aesthetics with function, offering a wide array of colors and matching capabilities and an arsenal of practical applications — many of which meet the most stringent VOC regulations. In particular, some coatings have an impact on air quality and odor elimination, mildew and mold resistance, microbicidal properties, third-party emissions certification, and finish durability. Advanced technologies are changing the construction landscape and give facility managers more innovative options to consider. 

Certain modern coatings can help improve air quality and reduce the presence of unpleasant odors. They do this by targeting and neutralizing airborne concentrations of formaldehyde and other aldehydes, which can be released by other building materials in the space, including carpet, fabrics, and insulation. These compounds tend to be found in recent construction and can cause a variety of health issues to those exposed to prolonged high concentrations. By dissipating these common organic odors, coatings with formaldehyde reducing technology can help actively create a better indoor environment. Of course, that depends on the concentration, the frequency of exposure, and the amount of painted surface area.

In a similar vein, the growth of mold or mildew in older construction or buildings in a humid environment can produce staining, rotting, and bacterial odors. If unchecked, these issues could trigger allergies and irritation of the eyes, throat, and skin. A number of high-performance coatings include antimicrobial agents that inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on the paint film. 

The recent introduction of microbicidal paint provides a clear benefit for many environments beyond the obvious health care and hospitality spaces. The first EPA-registered microbicidal paint kills 99.9 percent of disease-causing bacteria, including Staph (Staphylococcus aureus), MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), E. coli (Escherichia coli), VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis), and Enterobacter aerogenes, within two hours of exposure on a painted surface. The coating will also continue to kill 90 percent of bacteria on painted surfaces for up to four years when the integrity of the surface is maintained. 

Some of the greatest benefits for facility managers are the latest innovations in paint film durability. Today’s advanced formulas are specifically designed to withstand the daily abuse and high-volume traffic of commercial, institutional, and residential buildings. A number of these coatings combine industrial-level strength with designer-like finishes to create a versatile and durable finish, suitable for use in a variety of environments. 

High-Performance Acrylic Coatings

Acrylics are widely used in exterior paints because of their exterior durability, resistance to discoloration at elevated temperatures, flexibility and toughness, gloss retention, and chemical resistance. Formulations that are 100 percent acrylic are durable and flexible, adhering well to a variety of substrates — wood, stucco and masonry, aluminum siding, and more. For facility managers who want to minimize inventory without minimizing performance, look for a multisurface acrylic that is suitable for a wide range of interior and exterior substrates. This type of coating is suitable for walls and ceilings where ideal surface prep and a thorough cleaning are hard to achieve, especially in demanding locations like warehouses, manufacturing sites, schools, hospitals, hotels, and industrial facilities. 

High-Performance Epoxies

Some epoxies offer an ultra-durable, chemical- and abrasion-resistant finish and can be used to defend a variety of substrates from degradation and work well for a variety of jobs. For block, drywall, masonry, and concrete in high-traffic areas, look for a single-component pre-catalyzed water-borne epoxy that offers a solvent and impact-resistant finish. When considering industrial maintenance environments and high-performance architectural applications, choose a tough, all-purpose gloss epoxy that offers essential chemical and abrasion resistance. For direct-to-metal applications where exceptional corrosion resistance is needed, look for a water-based, catalyzed epoxy resin coating that not only meets the most stringent VOC regulations, but is also UL/GREENGUARD Gold certified for low chemical emissions into indoor air during product usage. 

High-Performance Urethanes 

Urethane additives are used in both alkyd and water-based coatings and can offer excellent resistance to weathering and abrasion. These formulas can offer maximum durability and can serve as a general-purpose maintenance enamel for interiors or exteriors in industrial environments. The coating can be used on properly prepared steel, aluminum, wood, concrete, masonry and drywall in a variety of environments. For the tough jobs, two-component water-based or solvent-based formulas should exceed expectations and provide optimal toughness.    

Benefits of High-Performance Coatings 

Regardless of the specific formula, high-performance coatings stand up to heavier wear, harsher conditions, and more demanding specifications than conventional coatings. With industry advances and technology innovations, paint has become an active tool within the building environment. In addition to targeting specific issues like air quality, mold and mildew, and bacterial growth, the latest formulas feature enhanced staying power and durability — allowing the finish to last for years to come. 

High-performance paints will contain more of the “prime” pigments that provide color and hides versus cheaper “extender” pigments that add bulk but little color. They will also contain higher-quality binders, either acrylic or oil-based, which adhere to surfaces better and offer enhanced film integrity, making them more resistant to cracking, blistering, and peeling over time. 

Not all components contributing to solids are equal in their performance. It is important to compare paint products of similar performance expectations. Different polymers and different pigments impart significantly different performance characteristics. It is likely that one supplier of paint may use higher quality materials and formulate a better product than one who relies solely on volume solids to differentiate products. Another vital factor relates to chemical type of solids, which are defined as either “binder” or “pigment.” Lower-performing paints tend to contain many more “filler” pigments and fewer binders, as well as lower-quality materials.

Return on Investment for High-Performance/innovative Coatings

The high-quality ingredients that compose high-performance paint and achieve a desired finish (pigment, binders, liquids, and additives) do come at a higher cost than standard architectural coatings. However, higher-quality paint can lead to a wide range of advantages and, importantly, oftentimes results in lower costs over time by delivering on enhanced durability and other benefits. 

When it comes to specifying paint, choosing a top-quality, high-performance/innovative coating does matter. Whether evaluating interior or exterior coatings for industrial, institutional, or educational environments, understanding how durability is defined in the context of a project will greatly help in the selection of products that provide an outcome that checks every box.

Rick Watson is director of product information and technical services with Sherwin-Williams, which introduced the first EPA-registered microbicidal paint, Sherwin-Williams Paint Shield.


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posted on 4/13/2018