A Paint Primer for FM Professionals

11/01/2015 | By Janelle Penny

Get to know your paint options before your next project

Paint with brush

Painting the office or school corridor is different from a home project. Instead of weighing the merits of this year’s hottest color, FMs have to prioritize longer durability, better resistance against abuse and the strength to hold up to washing and scrubbing.

The right paint for your repainting project is out there, but do you know how to find it? Determine what makes a product the right one with this guide to the types and ingredients of paint.

Understand Paint Types and Formulas
Paints are typically categorized according to resin type and where the paints are used, notes Brian Osterried, Product Manager for PPG Architectural Coatings. Latex, oil-based or alkyd, and waterborne alkyd are the major categories of paints, and each will be marked according to where it can be used in your facility, such as interior, exterior, wall, trim or floor, he adds. Any one of them can be paired with a primer if needed, though some paints are advertised as self-priming.

“Interior paints are typically designed for the durability, washability, scrubbability and burnish resistance of everyday use and abuse inside buildings,” explains Rick Watson, Director of Product Information for Sherwin-Williams. “Typically, an interior paint doesn’t have to concern itself with sun, rain, wind, snow or temperatures that fluctuate significantly. The reverse is true on the exterior because those paints must have performance characteristics associated with fluctuating temperatures, dirt, wind-driven rain, hail and the sun beating down on it all day long. It’s not necessarily about coffee, tea and ketchup stains like it is on the inside. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, primers really don’t have to stand up to the beatings that topcoats take – they just have to take care of sealing and providing good adhesion for those topcoats.”

Regardless of its intended application, all paints have four major ingredients:

Carriers (solvents or water): All of the other ingredients are suspended in this liquid, which evaporates after application and is not present in the final dried paint film, Osterried explains. Carriers allow the product to flow and level appropriately. Solvents are used as the carrier in oil-based paint, while water is used for latex products.

Binders (also known as resin): Ensures that the paint sticks to the surface and makes the film more durable. Binders are the “glue” that holds everything else in the can together, says Debbie Zimmer, Paint Quality Institute Director of Communications and Alliances for Dow Coating Materials, North America.

Pigments: These add color and opacity. Binders and pigments are the two biggest components in a can of paint, Zimmer notes: “Pigment is not the color that you get at the point of sale. The pigment is typically titanium dioxide, which provides whiteness, hiding and bulk.”

Additives: This category covers “miscellaneous ingredients that can provide a myriad of different characteristics, including mildew resistance, aid in application, improved adhesion and more,” Osterried says. Other common additives include stiffeners, which ensure a proper application consistency and help control spatter, and defoamers, which break up bubbles during mixing and application, adds Zimmer.

Pick the Right Product
Make sure you choose the correct paint for your project by first assessing how you need the paint to perform.

“Paint should certainly be tough enough to withstand scrubbing or washing the surface, but there are other questions you should ask yourself,” says Zimmer. “Is it in a waiting room where people are just sitting on chairs so it doesn’t have to be as tough as a bathroom application? Is it a hallway where there are a lot of people going back and forth and briefcases or computers are knocking into the wall? Describe the use of the space that’s going to be painted to your paint representative so they can help you determine exactly what product might work best.”

Reach out to at least two or three vendors with your requirements to compare product specifications, Zimmer recommends. This will ensure that you’re getting the performance you need in addition to a good price. Review Technical Data Sheets (TDS), Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and labels to shed more light on performance properties, usage and application recommendations, safety precautions, and product conformance standards. If what you find doesn’t quite fit what you had in mind, some vendors can recommend paints that address your specific needs, adds Watson.
“If our customers are saying ‘I have issues with a corridor’ or ‘I have problems with corrosion,’ we can specify the right products that are tailored for those projects,” Watson says. “Paint isn’t just one size fits all.”

Once you’ve chosen a vendor and product line, it’s time to look at color. There’s more to choosing a good hue than coordinating with nearby spaces or encouraging a certain mood – color also affects maintainability.

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