Unless you get pumped about seasonal palettes and pizzazz, paint projects are about as exciting as watching the surface dry. But new products are making a splash with special properties and spinning paint into more than just color on the wall.
Recent hot topics in the workplace include collaboration, productivity, and indoor air quality – and if something as simple as a new coating can help boost performance in these areas, then you’ll feel like painting the town in addition to your walls.
Read on to discover how certain offerings promote worker and building performance, spur teamwork, and improve occupant health.
The idea to design a paint that converts substrates into dry erase marker surfaces came out of a college project to design a business plan. Two students were literally throwing ideas on the wall with sticky notes until they had covered the wall and thought there had to be a better way.
“They wondered what if the wall was dry erasable and they could have just written their ideas directly on it,” explains Amanda Schneider, director of strategic partnerships with manufacturer IdeaPaint. Now the company founded by those students offers liquid and powder products that do just that.
In addition to walls, it’s also used on file cabinet banks, wall panels for cubicles, lockers, and work surfaces, as well as in applications ranging from offices and healthcare to warehouses and education, says Schneider. Enough IdeaPaint to cover 100 square feet costs $315.
“Kids don’t like pen or even pencil on paper because the permanent nature can be intimidating when they make mistakes,” she says. “Dry erase takes that fear element away. If you mess up, it’ll be completely gone, no big deal.”
Sherwin-Williams offers a similar dry erase coating. Cost of the Sherwin-Williams offering is $500 for a 1-gallon kit.
“I’ve seen people do a small square on their wall or door, or an entire conference room from top to bottom,” says Steve Revnew, vice president of product innovations at the manufacturer. “One building did all their hallways and rooms so it was like the whole office was a dry erase board.”
Having writable surfaces is great for collaboration, but many workers are accustomed to working with electronics, and that equipment needs special protection from dust and static electricity.
Antistatic Industries offers acrylic, water-based paints for floor and wall use that resist static and prevent dust from clinging to surfaces, priced at $185 per gallon.
“It’s ideal for computer or server rooms, electronic assembly areas, and warehouses,” explains Thomas Kistler, vice president of the manufacturer. “It’s important for static and dust to be eliminated, especially in those areas.”PageBreak
Promote Occupant Health
Perhaps equally important to worker productivity is their wellbeing. Indoor air quality is a crucial concern in this area, and Sherwin-Williams is taking on odors and formaldehyde as key culprits.
“This spring, we launched a product that absorbs formaldehyde and common odors, promoting a better indoor environment,” Revnew explains. “It’s ideal for new construction or remodels where a lot of formaldehyde is found, but it’s also a prime choice for areas with indoor odors like kitchens.”
There are also offerings from several manufacturers that contain antimicrobial agents to resist mold and mildew formation on surfaces, limiting allergic reactions for users while extending the life of the paint.
An aspect of user health that sometimes gets overlooked is food preparation areas. To address this, Antistatic Industries released a product that meets FDA requirements for direct food contact. It costs $325 per gallon.
“We’re seeing it applied on concrete, drywall, plaster, wood, and steel,” says Kistler. “It should be used in kitchens, schools, hospitals, restaurants, and food processing plants.”
Aesthetics Aren’t Sacrificed
Although these offerings present unconventional possibilities, most look and work like standard paints.
“The dry erase coating is actually clear, so you can design with any color and it blends right in,” Revnew says. “It may look a little shinier, but it’s better than having to install a new architectural glass wall or hanging a big white board somewhere.”
Custom and clear options are also available from IdeaPaint.
“The sky is the limit with creativity and you can keep your space looking how the architect intended,” says Schneider. “Writable surfaces don’t have to be a white eyesore.”
To clean the coated surface, Schneider recommends a dry rag or soap and water because some dry erase board cleaners are abrasive and could chip a coating. With such easy maintenance, the coatings are meant to be a help, not a hassle.
“Workplaces are becoming more collaborative, and this adds functionality wherever you want,” Schneider says. “The office isn’t really just a place to go and work anymore – it’s a place where you go to work together.”
Chris Curtland [email protected] is assistant editor of BUILDINGS.