Architects: Impacts of Color Choice - A scenario








Better the color you know than the color you don't!!!
  • The architect designed a school - the latest of many done by the firm.
  • The specification writer prepared the detailed spec.
  • The color consultant released the color schedules.
    The general contractor had the project nearing completion.
  • The paint contractor prepared to start application.
    The paint store tinted the paint order to the selected colors.
  • The specified paint was applied.
  • The students came to school.
  • The surface marked excessively, prompting students to further mar the finish.
  • The school board demanded answers!
What happened? Who is responsible?

The architect and the spec. writer are the first approached. They respond that the semi-gloss alkyd specified had been used with considerable success on school after school after school with no such previous problem.

The paint contractor is next approached. He responds that he followed the spec., and purchased the specified semi-gloss alkyd coating, tinted to the color selected.

The paint manufacturer is then approached. He responds that the proper material was supplied and tinted with universal tinters to the color chip selected by the color consultant. The paint batch was checked at the lab and found to meet spec. The tinted color was checked and found to be within accepted tolerance.

What happened? Who is responsible?

The key to the answer is that the semi-gloss alkyd required approx. 15 ounces of universal tinter to be added to the base to achieve the color selected. This amount effectively changes the properties of the specified tinted semi-gloss alkyd. Some of these changes can be: a reduction in abrasion and mar resistance; a drop in sheen from semi-gloss to low gloss; a delayed drying time, sometimes double normal; low hiding, requiring extra coats.

Other areas where color selection can play a role in paint system performance is where, for example, a desired darker brown color is achieved by use of yellows in the tinting process. Excess fading may be the result on southern exposures experiencing greater amounts of UV light. Similar 'browns' obtained from other color mixing or pigments may be quite colorfast.

Color selection can be critical to the performance of the paint system. Currently, deep and accent colors are 'in vogue'. Many will require 4 to 5 to even 6 coats to achieve hiding! This always causes problems when the spec. calls for either 2 coats (i.e. custom grade) or 3 coats (i.e. premium grade). Some selected colors are produced using factory-ground pigments; some are tinted to produce the selected color. Some color systems use up to 6 tint bases, whereas some use as few as two. Some paints need a lot of tinting to match some other paint company's color chip - sometimes that amount of 'help' changes the performance characteristics of the matching paint.

Minimize disputes and the project flows more smoothly. The result is a better project, a better 'bottom line', and fewer ulcers!

Know the impact of your color choice before 'challenges' develop!!!

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