Information Underload: Presenting the Argument for Product Standards

From D+D Online, February 2012

by Walter Scarborough

A significant deficiency exists in the world of architectural paints and coatings that is not encountered in the industrial and maintenance coatings side of the market....
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Tagged categories: Architects; Architectural coatings; Architecture; Certifications and standards; Coatings manufacturers; Color + Design; Construction Specifications Institute; Design; Regulations; Specifiers; Walter Scarborough

Comment from Barry Lamm, (2/22/2012, 10:27 AM)

"Consumer Reports" magazine does a pretty good job of testing residential grade paints for wearability, cleanablity, durability, etc. about once a year. They don't seem to include specialty grade paints or finishes. I think their tests are aimed at homeowners mostly. Perhaps some organization like CSI could talk them into testing and evaluating several brands of commercial grade and specialty paints and publish the findings. The testing they do covers most of the list Mr.Scarborough mentions.

Comment from Richard Sophir, (2/22/2012, 11:27 AM)

Is the author unfamiliar with The Master Painters Institute (MPI)? It has been testing and rating architectural paints for years and has over a hundred categories that list manufacturers' products that meet its testing standards. See This accomplishes exacty what the author finds lacking and is available on-line or in print.

Comment from Donald Roberts, (2/22/2012, 1:56 PM)

Our firm has used the Arcom MasterSpec system for over 20 years and have found it very confusing when Masterspec switched over to the MPI paint specifying system. MPI does level the playing field for writing paint specifications, but you soon find out that companies you like to write your spec around don't always have products that are equal to each you have to go to a fourth or fifth manufacturer to find an equal product. Another problem with using the MPI system is that most small painting contractors don't know what MPI is and neither do the paint stores. They have to find a manufacturer's rep to interpret your MPI spec...but still you tend to get the latest up-to-date product. I had a major paint rep tell me that if you want the best paint for your project, you should use the retail "best" quality because that paint has better quality ingredients than professional paint lines. Professional painters are better at painting and can use a lower quality paint (saving them money) than the retail customer.

Comment from michael blackborow, (2/23/2012, 10:45 AM)

I have seen inappropriate MPI specifications chosen for projects. MPI is the bare minimum that a Specification Writer should use when writing a specification. The Spec writer should contact a coatings manufacturer who can guide them into the most suitable technologies for their project.

Comment from Robert Bullard, (2/27/2012, 2:28 PM)

Mildew Spec?

Comment from Trevor Neale, (3/2/2012, 9:24 AM)

I suggest missing from the "wish list" detailed by the author is full disclosure by the manufacturere of the application limits of the product e.g.temperature and humidity,in many cases coating performance is compromised due to adverse enviromental condition during the application process.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/25/2012, 8:47 AM)

There are well-established ASTM standard test methods for evaluating just about all of these characteristics. To answer one of the above questions: Washability is measured by ASTM D3450 while Scrub resistance is measured by ASTM D2486. To give a brief overview: Washability is a measure of how easily staining materials (such as ink or mustard) can be removed from the paint. Scrub resistance is the ability of the paint itself to stand up to many cycles of rubbing/scrubbing before the paint is removed.

Comment from Allen Zielnik, (4/26/2012, 8:22 AM)

Yes, there are many established test methods such as the ASTM methods methods mentioned for washability and scrubability. So if coating "B" survives more scrub cycles than "A" it should be of higher quality. I believe Walter Scarborough's disconnect is the lack of linkage of "x" number of cycles, for example, to what needs to be included in a paint specification. In other words, guidance linking a test method result to real-world performance levels; otherwise coatings can me unrealistically spec'd with no real advantage and plenty of downside risk and higher cost.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/27/2012, 8:33 AM)

Allen, an AAMA specification setting performance levels based on results from the various established test methods sounds like a good solution.

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