Successful Commercial Painting Projects Require Plenty of Upfront Planning

By Maryellen Lo Bosco March 2017 – Paints & Coatings

In an era of tight facility budgets and lean facility staffs, facility managers look for every opportunity to save time and money. Painting may seem like a routine task, but if facility managers wish to maximize their painting dollars over the long term, they will need to carefully plan and execute each project.

The bottom line is simple: “You get what you pay for,” says Cris Crissinger, a consultant who was formerly director, corporate specifications, McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture. It may be more economical in the short term to use cheaper materials, but such a system will cost more money to maintain over a period of years, he says. The same principle applies to surface preparation and application. A paint job can last a couple of years or even 20 years or more, depending on how well the painting was done and how good the materials used.

That’s not to say that every project should be budgeted so that it can last for 20 years. “In some cases it is more cost effective to spend money up front, but if people are changing their brand every six to ten years, then why spend a lot of money?” asks Ken Trimber, president of KTA-Tator, a third-party inspection company for infrastructure, and a member of four ASTM committees that deal with coatings, building performance, and durability. “If you are going to tear a building down in a few years, for example, all you may want is a Band-Aid.”

Finding the right paint

The choice of paint or coating will depend on a number of factors. Indoors, aesthetics become important, says Terry Carroll, commercial services business unit manager for KTA-Tator, and the sheen chosen will vary by substrate. In hospital buildings, antimicrobial coatings will be put down to resist contamination, especially in laboratory settings.

Dry-fall paint is used to coat exposed, metal-deck ceilings, which is literally dry when it hits the floor. In choosing colors, it is important to consider how much fade is allowable. That’s because fade varies according to hue. Earth tones will wear better than bright colors, for example.

The first place to get information about paint is from the product data sheet, which lists paint characteristics, including VOC (volatile organic compound) level, how many square feet will be covered by a gallon of paint, how fast the paint will dry, and how soon the applier can re-coat.

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