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The shape of water in painting school buildings

David Spicer, from Crown Paints, looks at how advances in water-based paint tech are offering an alternative to traditional solvent-based products

Posted by Julian Owen | June 22, 2018 | Interiors

Education building management has changed rapidly in the past decade, with tighter budgets putting more emphasis on cost-effectiveness. What’s more, extended usage of school buildings means that speed is of the essence when it comes to maintenance, as classrooms and other shared spaces need to be back in use as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, coatings technology is keeping pace with the needs of education specifiers, offering quickly-drying water-based paints that match the opacity and workability of solvent-based products, alongside faster drying times and reduced odour.

A workable solution

The development of water-based products was originally led by legislation relating to the need to limit the harmful environmental effects of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). However, the benefits of this new generation of low VOC paints extend above and beyond hitting sustainability targets, making them an ideal solution for education environments.

When it comes to specifying new paint products, the finish is often the most important place to start. The biggest challenge in the development of water-based paints has been to offer the same quality of flow and workability that trade professionals demand, together with the durable finish required for high-traffic areas like schools. 

However, through investment and innovation, coatings manufacturers have created a range of water-based products that offer a high performance finish that not only matches but often exceeds that of solvent and oil based paints.

Colour is critical

Thanks to new advances in water-based paint technology, education estates managers and maintenance teams now have an even greater choice of solutions available to them. The best examples of ‘trim’ products not only look and feel like solvent-based products, but also offer excellent opacity and have been developed to stay whiter and brighter for longer. This not only provides a high quality durable finish but can also help contribute to reducing cyclical redecoration and maintenance costs.

The option of specifying water-based paints in a wide range of colours also opens up new design opportunities, whether relating to achieving aesthetic appeal, matching school colours schemes, way-finding or achieving compliance with the relevant building regulations.

While the Equalities Act is open to some interpretation, current guidance states that contrasting colours used to aid visually impaired students or staff should vary in luminance by 30 points to create sufficient contrast. This is especially important when considering coatings for items such as architraves and handrails, so the ability to incorporate colour into trim work is essential when specifying paint products.

Time and money

Other potential cost-saving benefits of choosing water-based paints, and ones that can be enjoyed immediately, are their quick-drying and low-odour properties. As water-based paints have a shorter drying time, additional coats can be applied quicker and the overall time taken to complete the job is significantly reduced.

For interior works that may remain in use throughout, or which need to be handed over quickly, water-based paints can also limit any disruption as, unlike solvent products, there are no unpleasant or lingering odours to contend with.

With more and more trade professionals preferring to work with water-based paints, feedback remains an important part of product development and innovation. For schools, finding the right product can allow estates and maintenance managers to save money, reduce disruption and ensure that the school provides a pleasant and safe environment for staff and students alike.

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