Facilities managers should heed these expert tips when considering paint work for their buildings.
By Myrna Traylor
Painting is an essential aspect of maintaining and enhancing the appearance of a building. Thus, it is crucial for facilities managers to understand the process of painting and its impact on the property.
Facilities managers must rely on their supplier to select the right type of paint, prepare the surfaces and ensure a high-quality finish. In turn, the supplier relies on the FM to provide critical guidance to make sure that the job proceeds smoothly and achieves the desired result.
Brian Foster, Senior Vice President of the Painting Division at Paint Folks, said guidance begins with “having a clear scope of work describing what will be painted along with the colors. Many companies spend a lot of money on developing their image or their brand, so it's important that we have the correct paint colors, paint codes and proper sheen to not only meet but exceed customer expectations.”
Design and brand standards might be very specific, depending on the organization. Foster said that one of his clients has “eight different restaurant designs and specifications for all their sections — the color on the dining room wall, the restroom ceiling, around the cash wrap and the doors. They have it marked down because they really care about their brand.”
In and Out
The other major factor to consider is whether the paint job is for the interior or exterior. With a few exceptions, most interiors can be painted year-round, but exterior surfaces can only be painted when the environmental conditions are right. Low temperatures (or rain, obviously) prevent proper adherence and drying and, ultimately, the longevity of the paint. A painting company that offers a service warranty will likely only paint under conditions that won’t require the job to be redone because of paint performance problems that could be avoided. In addition, exterior paint is specifically formulated to withstand weathering and minimize fading from sunlight.
FMs may be concerned about how quickly a space can get back to use, so drying times might be a significant concern. “The time required for paint to dry depends on humidity, the substrate you are painting, the air temperature, whether there's wind — so many different factors,” Foster explained. “Every paint has a datasheet from the manufacturer that tells you how long that individual brand of paint will take to dry. They might say, for example, ‘Four to six hours to dry at 70% humidity at 45 degrees.’ The data sheet will also tell you what kind of brushes and rollers to use or the proper sprayer tip.”
Before painting, it is essential to properly prepare the surfaces by cleaning and repairing any surface damage or imperfections. This will ensure the paint adheres well and results in a smooth finish. Proper preparation also includes choosing the right primer, which helps to seal and protect the surfaces. “Some people think painting is just painting, but that's not the case. There are different types of substrates and surfaces, and certain paints will last longer. The cheapest isn't always the best,” Foster said.
Just as with other types of contracted service, it's crucial to follow safety protocols when handling paint and other chemicals. Facilities managers should ensure the appropriate safety gear is worn and that the area is properly ventilated during the painting process.
As we look to the future, several key trends will influence the painting of commercial spaces.
There is a growing preference for sustainable and eco-friendly paints. Increased consumer consciousness about environmental impact is causing a shift towards products with low volatile organic compound (VOC) levels and paints derived from natural ingredients.
The use of technology in paint selection is on the rise. Digital color matching tools and virtual reality applications allow facilities managers to visualize different color schemes before making a decision — if there are no established brand or tenant requirements.
There's a trend toward more vibrant and diverse color palettes in commercial spaces. This movement is driven by the understanding that color can greatly influence mood and productivity, so some businesses are more willing to experiment with bold color choices.
“A lot of other trades take higher priority than painting because painting is not considered a critical part of operations,” Foster said. “Things like plumbing, electric or doors not working, will impede operations. Peeling or dingy paint doesn't necessarily impede operations, but it will affect customers’ impression of the location. People may come there once, but they won't come again if it continues to look bad.”