Thanks to Pinterest and a myriad of do-it-yourself websites, more and more consumers are flocking to local big box hardware stores in search of specialized paints for all sorts of home renovation projects.
When they get there, paint chip in hand, they’re looking for products that can stand up to the rigors of daily life. What they’re faced with is row after row of paint tins with varying price points and finishes.
Educating consumers about the benefits of premium products will drive business for coatings manufacturers and give eager homeowners life-proof products that they can simply apply and forget.
To find out what exactly “life-proof” means from a coatings perspective, we caught up with Camilo Quiñones, Market Segment Manager, Architectural Coatings at BASF.
What is a “life-proof” coating?
Camilo Quiñones: The term life-proof came about because we want our end consumer to forget about coatings being fragile, and just go about living their lives. When your average “do-it-your-selfer” goes into the Home Depot and spends a little bit more money on a premium can of paint, we want them to have the confidence that the coating will stand up to the tests of time, family and anything else life can throw its way.
That goes for the paint manufacturers as well. They can formulate with confidence and understand that our products are resilient and give them a lot of latitude when it comes to formulating.
What “life” hazards are the coatings designed to stand up against?
CQ: When it comes to exterior coatings, let’s look at your average single-family home. It probably has siding of some sort and maybe wood that needs to be painted every five to seven years. It’s a big job, so you want to be sure the paint will stand up to Mother Nature. That includes UV degradation. That means the coating needs to retain excellent gloss and color over time.
Beyond color retention, it also needs to withstand microorganisms such as mildew or algae, resist salt stains, and prevent surfactant leaching. An example of this is if it rains and some of the material in the paint leaches out and causes what looks like snail trails.
What about colder climates?
CQ: If you're in a place where freeze-thaw cycles are an issue — where it’s warm during the day, but cold at night — and you have a substrate in the exterior of your house that shrinks and expands with these temperature cycles, then the paint needs to move along with the substrate without cracking. We have also achieved that performance, so you don't start to see flaking. That is called grain crack resistance.
What does life-proofing mean for interiors?
CQ: Interiors are perhaps the biggest slice of the market, and the one where we’re playing in the most. Life-proof for interiors often comes down to washability. Washability allows people to mechanically remove a stain by wiping it. What we’re providing is a film that is good enough to withstand wiping and the accompanying abrasion without changing the appearance of the finish. That’s washability, and we have products that are good at that.
What we're doing beyond that, and where we're really differentiating ourselves, is in moving towards stain resistance. Those two terms have come to be almost equivalent in the market, but to be clear, washability is not the same as a stain resistance.
We're trying to establish a difference, and here's why: What if the stain doesn't bind to the coating in the first place? Like a non-stick surface, you can just wipe it off in a single swipe. It's like washability but without the elbow grease.
We call it Nouveau Stain Resistance.
Are the life-proof coatings low in VOCs?
CQ: Yes. Meeting low-VOC regulations is key, and sometimes challenging. A good example of this is when we were developing a feature that prevents dirt from sticking to your house. In the industry we call it “dirt pickup.”
When it comes to having low VOCs, that means you cannot use certain coalescing agents. Which, in turn, means you need to go in and try dispersions that are softer, so they will form without this coalescing agent — but if they’re softer, they typically allow more dirt to stick to the coating.
Our chemistry bridges that gap, and we avoid the trade-off. We actually deliver both: a dispersion that can be formulated in ultra-low VOC formulations, but has greater, thicker dirt pickup resistance. It’s called Acronal® Edge 4247, and it was launched last year.
Are life-proof coatings also resistant to bumps, scuffs and scrapes?
CQ: Yes, there is burnish resistance and scrub resistance. What this means is, if you're walking down the hall and perhaps rub your arm or whatever you're carrying against the wall, you won’t see a scar. You won’t see a changing sheen on your wall. We help the customer have a more durable film so, day-to-day, you will see less of an impact on the coating.
Do the chemical formulations needed to achieve life-proof qualities impact the color or aesthetic finish of the coatings?
CQ: No, not at all. You can still get the same range of colors and finishes that you want, but now there is a premium option that offers all the life-proof abilities too.