Painting buildings is a necessary and repetitive occurrence. However, the life expectancy of many painting projects is cut short due to a variety of reasons. Many building owners find themselves faced with expensive reapplication projects when they or their contractor fall short in planning out the project and addressing the buildings needs as matched with the owner’s goals and budget.

Understand Pre-Existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions must be considered, but frequently this step overlooked. The best way of analyzing these conditions is to engage the services of a building envelope consultant trained in building restoration. Some commonly overlooked concerns are failed sealants and/or the existence of spalling concrete conditions, adhesion problems, and excessive material thickness. All too often, after a painting contractor has completed their work, a building will still leak. These cases are often the result of sealants, expansion joints, or other waterproofing concerns being overlooked or excluded from the project. This is not to say that the contractor didn’t perform a beautiful and high quality paint job, but rather, that the root cause of the leaks was not understood or was excluded from the original scope of work. Similarly, with no understanding of the existing conditions, owners sometimes make the mistake of addressing the exterior paint only and not repairing concrete problems first. Not only does this present a safety concern as spalled concrete conditions remain in place, but ultimately will result in an expensive repainting project to cosmetically conceal the concrete repairs once complete.

“Engineering Coatings” vs. “Paint”

In the modern world, coatings are made to perform very specific functions. In fact, building envelope consultants often refer to these specialized products as “engineered coatings” rather than “paint” to better describe their performance characteristics. Today, a coating may be selected for its breathable characteristics (yes, they do breathe) ironically to avoid trapping moisture inside the structure, or perhaps for its elasticity, or it’s bond strength, it’s ultraviolet resistance, perhaps it’s ability to bridge cracks, or even its ability to block certain natural or chemical elements which may be damaging to the structure. Selecting the right materials for a project is no longer just a matter of picking the color. It’s becoming more complex every day as building construction and repair techniques become more specialized.

How We Can Help

With so much complexity in the marketplace, there is no better way for owners to protect their interests than to engage the services of a building envelope consultant at the onset of a painting project. A consultant can help investigate existing conditions, select the right materials, prepare a clear set of specifications based on the buildings needs, and can recommend licensed and qualified contractors. Similarly, during the course of construction a consultant should be engaged to provide field verification that the repairs are being performed in accordance with the specifications, ASTM International guidelines, and the manufacturer’s requirements. By doing so, a warrantable installation is more likely to be achieved and the owners objectives are more likely to be fulfilled.