PaintPRO Vol 5 No 5

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Other articles in this issue:
Glass Textile Wallcoverings
Searching for Standards
Stenciling Existing Concrete
Dealing with Dry Rot
Estimating, Etc.
Contractor Profile: Tracy Wickwire
School: Faux Design Studio
Paint Industry News
Product News
Product Profiles
Painting Tips


PaintPRO Archives
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E/S Latex @ 60 degrees
Figure 3. When eight tinted samples were measured, results showed a wide variety of gloss levels, none 10 units or higher.

Eggshell, Latex & Alkyd @ 60 degrees
Figure 4. Compared with eggshell latexes (data set 1), eight brands of eggshell alkyds (data set 2) all measured between 10 and 25 gloss units at 60 degrees.
Eggshell, Latex & Alkyd @ 85 degrees
Figure 5. At 85 degrees, MPI observed a wide discrepancy between gloss levels of eggshell latexes and eggshell alkyds.
Semi-Gloss, Latex & Alkyd @ 60 degrees
Figure 6. A comparison between semi-gloss latexes (data set 1) and semi-gloss alkyds (data set 2) did not show the same gloss level variance that latex and alkyd eggshells did.

...continued from previous page

Gloss Paint Level Standards

Gloss level standards make choosing the right gloss less confusing.
by Denise Wendt by Denise Wendt

Next, MPI measured the same eight, white, eggshell latex paints, this time tinted by the manufacturers to the same pastel, medium and accent colors. This “tint to match” step resulted in no samples measuring 10 units and even more measuring less than 5 units (see Figure 3).

In a third test, MPI looked at 4 different colors from each brand, each group measured at 85 degrees. All but 3 colors measured above 10 units.

When MPI compared those four colors of eggshell latex (from eight brands) with four colors of eggshell alkyd (from eight brands) at 60 degrees, the results were surprising. All of the eggshell latexes were under 10 units, and most were under 5 units. Most of the eggshell alkyds were between 10 and 25 gloss units (see Figure 4).

MPI observed similar results when eggshell latexes and eggshell alkyds were compared at 85 degrees. At both 60 and 85 degrees, MPI observed a wide discrepancy in gloss levels among manufacturers between eggshell latexes and eggshell alkyds (see Figure 5).

Finally, MPI looked at four colors of semi-gloss paints from eight brands. MPI did not observe the same gloss level discrepancy between latex and alkyd paints that it saw with the eggshells. There was greater consistency overall — within a manufacturer’s four colors, between a manufacturer’s latex and alkyd paints and even among different manufacturers.

Knowing What to Use Where
Although glossy finishes are more durable, more stain resistant and easier to clean than flat finishes, they also are more likely to show surface imperfections because of their highly reflective appearance. Solvent-based gloss paints are generally the toughest, most durable and most stain-resistant type of paint. Gloss paints are ideal for areas exposed to heavy traffic or heavy use, especially where fingerprints, grease or grime are common.

Semi-gloss paints are less reflective than gloss paints, but also offer good stain resistance and are easy to clean. Paints with a semi-gloss finish are excellent for use on many of the same areas as gloss paints.

Paints that fall between semi-gloss and flat tend to impart more warmth and depth to surfaces than do flat paints. They resist stains better than flat paints but not as well as semi-gloss and gloss paints. These paints are good choices for areas where some sheen is desired and good cleaning properties are necessary.

Flat paints diffuse light, so they tend to conceal surface imperfections better than paints with higher gloss levels. As a result they are a good choice for use on textured walls and ceilings. Colors appear less intense in a flat finish than they do in a glossier finish. Flat finishes are less stain-resistant than glossy finishes.

Table 2 lists MPI’s recommendations for where to use gloss, semi-gloss, eggshell and flat finishes.

Table 2. Site-appropriate product use
Surface Gloss Semi-gloss Eggshell, Satin or Velvet Flat
Bedroom walls * **(1) *** **(2)
Bathroom walls * *** *** *
Family room walls * *** *** ***
Kitchen walls * *** *** **(2)
Laundry room walls **(1) *** *** **(2)
Hallway walls * **(1) *** **(2)
Interior doors *** *** **(2) *
Exterior doors *** *** **(2) *
Interior floors *** **(2) **(2) *
Exterior deck ***(3) **(2, 3) ***(4) *
Exterior masonry * **(1) *** ***
Exterior wood siding **(1) *** *** **(2)
Interior trim *** *** **(2) **(2)
Exterior trim *** *** **(2) **(2)
Not Recommended
Recommended with limitations.
May be difficult to get gloss and color uniformity.
Can mar and mark in high traffic area
May be too slippery.
Most non-slip surfaces appear as low sheen finishes.

Durability and Performance
“At the end of the day, durability is what keeps the painting contractor in business,” says Law. “The best painting contractors are the ones who work in the best interest of the owners and get the longest service life out of the paint job that they do. They prepare it properly, they use good products and they apply it properly. It lasts longer, they get happy customers and they get callbacks.”

MPI is currently conducting a study at a major university that involves some 7,000 units that have been painted with alkyds, conventional latex, high-performance architectural latex and different levels of gloss. “We’re looking at whether they can get another year out of the paint by using a higher gloss level than they used previously,” says Law. “If they can get one more year at a major university with nearly 7,000 units, this is a very big savings in terms of operating and maintenance.”

The results of this study could have industry-wide implications. “If building owners, building managers, recreation facility managers and others can get just one more year out of a product by choosing the right product with the right gloss and sheen, our industry will be better off because those customers will be looking less for replacement finishes,” says Law.

Comparing Apples to Apples
MPI hopes to level the playing field so that painting contractors, architects, manufacturers and others in the industry know that no matter what marketing calls the paint, that it falls within a given range and that range is known, says Law. “So if a company wants to call a product in a can eggshell — and it is in fact a flat — that’s fine,” says Law. “We’re not going to interfere with marketing, but we are going to try and let everybody who uses it know that it will fall within a range that is gloss level 2 or 3 or whatever.”

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