One Coating Doesn’t Fit All
Posted by Heidi Schwartz
A wide range of coatings is needed to protect and beautify every surface in and around different facilities. This handy guide offers many valuable tips on what types of products should be used for different areas of a commercial building, from interior walls to common building exteriors, floors to ceilings, and everything in between.
When looking at the range of possibilities, it is easy for facility managers to be overwhelmed by the choices. There’s a huge array of high-performance coatings for every possible type of surface.
So how should fms choose? Your decision should take these three key factors into consideration:
- Inside vs. outside surface. Will the coating protect an interior or an exterior surface? This is a key factor in choosing a coating that offers the right amount of protection, durability, and resilience to a variety of conditions.
- The surface area to be covered. There is a big difference in which coating you choose, whether you are covering a roof, ceiling, wall, doors and trim, floor, or pavement surface.
- Environmental considerations. Is environmental protection a key factor for you? If so, you will want to choose green-certified, EPA-approved coatings that offer all the benefits of other coatings but with zero or low VOC.
Starting On The Inside
Interior coatings are used for lobbies and common areas, offices and conference rooms, bathrooms, restaurants, and any area that will not be exposed to the elements.
Of course, there are significant differences between these types of interior areas, so fms will want to understand the surface and the type of use it will receive before choosing a coating. The type of coating used to cover the ceiling of a boiler room, versus the floor of a restaurant, versus the wall of an office area will all vary. For example:
- To paint the ceiling of an office building, fms may choose either interior acrylic latex or a zero VOC interior latex that offers superior durability, excellent hide, outstanding touch-up, and virtually no odor.
- When painting the walls of a lobby, fms could choose those same products—or they could also choose a water-based epoxy, offering a degree of durability that’s resistant to most commercial cleaners and featuring stain-blocking properties.
- For floors of a warehouse, fms are thinking about a totally different range of products designed for heavy traffic areas that offer chemical resistance and moisture-tolerance in addition to aesthetic appeal.
Quality interior paints offer a wide range of advantages, from superior aesthetics to easier application to better durability. Choosing quality over price actually can save money in the long run, because quality paints tend to go on easier and require less coats and repaints.
Top-of-the-line interior coatings also go on more smoothly than cheaper brands, giving fms a cleaner, more consistent appearance. They can cover the old paint better, with fewer coats, which means less work and requires less retouching. Clean up after the job is faster and simpler, and the coatings offer better resistance to dirt, require less maintenance and stand up to repeated washings.
Several factors are important in determining paint quality, but the main factors are the type and amount of resin (the binder that holds the paint together), type and amount of pigment, volume solids, and film thickness. A high quality paint should have enough volume solids for applying one solid coat that provides full coverage.
Next, fms will want to prepare the surface to be painted, as this will ensure that the coating adheres properly to the surface and prolongs the service life of the coating.
Improperly prepared surfaces can result in reducing the coating’s integrity and “shelf” life. Most coating failures can be directly attributed to inadequate surface preparation, which affects coating adhesion.
The method of surface preparation depends on the substrate, the environment, and the expected life of the coating system. Condition and contaminants are the two most important considerations in preparing the surface for a new coating.
First, any painting should be done in conditions that are warm—when the temperature is above at least 50°F—and dry, with low humidity. The surface must be dry, in sound condition, and free from mildew, oil, dust, dirt, loose rust, peeling paint, or other contaminants.
With drywall, the area must be clean and dry. All nail heads should be set and spackled, and joints must be taped and covered with a joint compound. Spackled nail heads and tape joints should be sanded smooth and all dust removed prior to painting.
A Primer On Priming
Selecting the right primer for the job is also critical, as it will improve paint coverage and enable fms to achieve the highest quality finish the first time around. Priming not only increases efficiency, it’s also a great way to satisfy customers and minimize work order requests by reducing callbacks and preventing rework.
Using a primer will help:
- Achieve a smooth, professional finish;
- Block stains, marks, and odors;
- Assure adhesion;
- Speed topcoating;
- Prevent peeling;
- Attain the truest paint color in the fewest coats; and
- Improve touch-up performance of the topcoat.
Indoor Air Quality: A Key Consideration
Indoor air quality is the first criteria many professionals consider when specifying products for interior areas. Even if it’s not a LEED-designated building, features such as zero VOCs, low odor, resistance to mildew, and an anti-microbial, silica-free formula are still important considerations when selecting the ultimate paint for interior projects.
Professional painters can reveal the advantages of using high quality green-conscious coatings—even if the initial cost may be a little bit higher—by explaining the long-term benefits. With higher quality products, the surface will not need as many coats and may not need to be re-painted as often. Reducing the number of coats as well as repaints helps reduce waste and emissions—and can often save money in the long run.
Painting contractors who choose “green-sure” paint products and a paint supplier that is committed to the environment also demonstrate that they care about creating a better, greener world.
Forget the old and expected tone-on-tone pairings; it's now perfectly acceptable to experiment with color values and hues within the color families to come up with today’s vibrant palettes.
Colors that are adjacent on the color wheel are a dominant trend. With the full array of colors available—fiery reds, watery blues, grassy greens, or organic neutrals—fms can create a mood within a room with color alone. Or they can come up with a whole palette of colors that fits the company’s corporate logo and colors.
Ready, Set, Spray (Or Roll?)
Paint application strategies often depend on whether the building is new or already occupied. If the building is brand new, spray painting is a much faster way to get the paint on the wall, especially if the trim isn't in place yet. Everything that has to be moved, masked, or covered (furniture, trim, doors, windows, carpet) will slow the process down. There will be a lot of "bounce-off" with an airless sprayer that usually falls to the floor, which means fms will need to cover anything that can't get splattered with paint.
Rolling, while usually slower, does not require as much covering and masking. Fms can also have several people in the room rolling at the same time, which cuts the total job time.
For The Outside Of The Building
Quality exterior paints are formulated to provide a great look that will stand up to the elements, whether it’s the blazing sun in Arizona or a blizzard in Minnesota.
To the outside world, painting is a major investment in time, money, and labor. So again, the bottom line is: better quality ingredients mean better performance. A high quality coating starts with high quality ingredients: pigments, binders, liquids, and additives that allow paint to apply more easily and that will look better and last longer.
A high quality paint will retain its color and its “new” look up to twice as long as inferior paints. Quality exterior paints are more dirt resistant and won’t pick up or hold airborne impurities. They’ll hold their finish longer, offer better mildew resistance, and are also less susceptible to blistering, flaking, and peeling.
Quality paints provide a higher build for better coverage, so fewer coats are required, saving on material expense, time, and labor.
Prep Makes Perfect
Paint failure is generally a symptom of poor surface preparation. Thoroughly cleaning the surface assures proper bonding of the paint and helps fms get the most from the topcoat. Other considerations:
- Old paint: Make sure glossy surfaces of old paint films are clean and dull before repainting.
- Wood rot: Fix the water or moisture problem before painting. This may require calling a carpenter to assist.
- Efflorescence: If you see white fluffy deposits of salt crystals on the surface, scrub them off before painting, as the surface needs to be smooth.
- Mildew: If there is the appearance of dirt even after washing, chances are there is mildew on the surface. Scrub with a solution of one part bleach and three parts water, and allow it to stand on the surface for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Repeat as necessary. Allow the surface to dry for 48 hours before painting.
- Weather: Never paint immediately after a rain, when rain is predicted, or during foggy weather. Avoid painting when temperatures rise above 90°F or fall below 50°F, unless the products are designed to be used under those circumstances.
The Right Coating For The Right Surface
Whether coating a new substrate or repainting an existing one, it pays to use the correct products and procedures. Common commercial exterior surfaces include fiber cement siding, cedar siding, vinyl, stucco and masonry, and brick.
Fiber-cement siding holds paint exceptionally well, but If improperly treated, cement-based products can be mildew magnets. It’s important to use a high quality exterior acrylic masonry primer to fortify the siding's mildew and efflorescence resistance. Then use a high quality latex top coating for new fiber-cement siding—and only one coat is necessary over a primed surface.
Cedar or redwood siding is best primed with an exterior oil-based wood primer; however, some regions of the country must use a latex primer due to VOC regulations. A primer is essential; it serves as a barrier coat to help prevent tannin bleed. Then apply one topcoat to the siding with a premium exterior acrylic coating.
While a thorough washing is necessary on vinyl siding, a primer is generally not needed with superior exterior latex paint. However, it’s important to note that fms should never paint vinyl siding a darker color than the original hue. Heat build-up can create heat distortion and cause the siding to buckle or warp.
Aluminum siding should also be power washed to rid the surface of chalk, oil, and other foreign materials prior to painting. Unless it has a super-slick surface, aluminum siding rarely needs to be primed. Simply apply one coat of a premium exterior acrylic coating by either brushing, spraying, or rolling.
The way to ensure successful repainting of stucco and masonry is to powerwash or clean the loose powdery surface well enough without destroying it. New stucco always should be primed or conditioned for optimal results. Since pH levels can be a concern with new stucco, make sure the primer can be applied to surfaces with a high pH level. For the topcoat, use two coats of a high quality acrylic coating.
Brick should be allowed to weather for at least a year and then wire brushed to remove efflorescence. Treat the bare brick with one coat of a conditioner before painting with a masonry compatible latex paint.
From The Pavement To The Roof
From concrete pavements to parking garages to the building’s roof, fms will also want to choose a coating that stands the test of time. Whether choosing waterborne or solvent based coatings, stains, or dyes, epoxy injections or urethane systems, make sure that quality is the number one consideration.
There’s an old adage that states, “You get what you pay for.” And in the case of paint, no statement could be more true. Paints that are lower in quality simply do not perform as well as their higher-priced competitors. And that’s something fms want to remember, because it can actually cost more money down the road.
With higher-priced paints, fms get complete coverage with fewer coats on virtually any substrate. Their high durability and washability allow them to withstand more wear and tear and scrubbing than lower priced coatings. And with substantially longer life spans, higher quality paints require far fewer touchups and recoats.
Regardless of what surface you need to coat – inside or outside, floor or ceiling and everything in between, you’ll want to choose a covering that offers the best quality for the best looks and performance. With the products available today, achieving a great looking and time enduring surface is possible.
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