In the architectural coatings market, beauty is in the eye of the beholder: it varies depending on whether the beholder is a formulator, a professional painter, or a DIY enthusiast.
In this case, beauty can encompass performance, sustainability, and, of course, color choice.
Color trends in architectural coatings are difficult to pin down, mainly because they vary widely by market and region. In the experience of Brandon Achord, Senior Scientist of Formulation Additives at BASF, the criteria for color choices are divided into two different camps.
“The first group wants to cover with as little work as possible, and their choice typically trends towards deeper and richer colors that offer single coat coverage,” he explains. “The second group cares more deeply about room aesthetics and flow of colors throughout the space, and less about the work required. They tend to go with a brighter color palette.”
It’s important to note, when it comes to choosing the right architectural coating, color choice only scratches the surface. For formulators and users alike, the functionalities of these coatings often play a bigger role in the selection process.
With that in mind, let’s look at the top coating performance attributes we’re expecting to see on trend in 2018.
Trend: Cutting costs through TiO2 reduction
Cost reduction is one trend that never seems to go out of style. In particular, formulators have been looking for ways to reduce the levels of titanium dioxide (TiO2) in their coatings.
“TiO2 has increased in price dramatically,” says Camilo Quiñones, Market Segment Manager of Architectural Coatings at BASF, noting the price has gone up more than 20 percent over the past twelve months. “That has caused formulators a few headaches.”
BASF has been working with formulators to offset TiO2 levels in coatings by using opacifying polymers, such as AQACell® HIDE 6299, and latices with superior TiO2 efficiency, such as Acronal® PLUS 4670.
“When opacifying polymers are added, they can provide the same level of opacity with less TiO2,” Quiñones explains.
“That means formulators can add opacifiers to offset TiO2 and decrease the overall formulated cost without compromising opacity.”
Products like Acronal® PLUS 4670 yield excellent TiO2 efficiency, allowing for lower formulated costs.
Trend: Stain-resistant coatings
When it comes to consumers and do-it-yourself painters, says Quiñones, “Appearance is king.”
“The DIY market cares about final appearance, namely color and gloss. They expect this appearance to last and properties that allow coatings to perform well over a long period of time, such as stain resistance, have become very important.”
“Stain-resistant coatings are all the rage,” Achord agrees.
He mentions the underlying trends to achieve “appearance over time” include gloss retention, blush resistance and dirt pickup resistance. The trend is driven mainly by a growing interest in longer-lasting coatings that require minimal maintenance.
True stain resistance is all about making sure the coating can handle anything life throws at it — whether it’s wine stains in the dining room, grease spots in the kitchen, or your kids’ masterful crayon wall-art in the hallways.
A good stain-resistant coating will prevent the stains from penetrating into the paint. When the time comes to scrub off the unwanted marks, stains should come off easily without marring or burnishing the paint.
Trend: Ultra-sustainable formulations
Achord notes that in architectural coatings, sustainability has been steadily growing in importance from both a regulatory and consumer-driven perspective.
“As consumer concern for the environment increases, so does the pressure to reduce regulated and perceived environmental impacts,” he says.
The past two decades have seen an influx of regulatory mandates to lower VOC content in coatings. In response, the industry has developed low-VOC products to meet the tightening regulations.
“We are getting to the point where low-VOC has become the new norm,” says Quiñones. “Low-VOC products used to be the next big thing, but they have come to define the idea of sustainability in architectural coatings.”
So, what’s next in the world of sustainable coatings?
BASF has introduced a concept called Biomass Balance Approach, a system that incorporates sustainable and renewable feedstock into the final products.
Biomass balance certified products have the same quality and properties as those derived from fossil fuels, but they contribute to sustainable development by saving fossil resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, this approach provides customers with ready-made, high-performing sustainable solutions at a competitive price.
Trend: Hassle-free application
From the end user’s perspective, ease of application will be coming more into focus this year.
Quiñones says a coating’s ease of application is very important for both DIY and professional painters.
The ideal paint should spread farther, reduce splatter, load faster to the brush or roller, easily transfer to the wall, and be faster to apply. For professional painters, that usually translates into saved time and effort. In the case of DIY painters, the coating should also be forgiving, meaning it will provide optimal appearance even if users lack painting experience or are working with sub-optimal tools.
“For the coating to be easy to apply, and still have a good outcome — that’s critical,” says Quiñones.
Ease of application also means cutting out a step in the painting process: the primer coat. For instance, BASF’s Acronal® EDGE 4750 is known as a paint and primer in one, which allows users to apply one or two coats of paint without the need for a primer.
Quiñones says it’s a big time-saver. What’s more, “It has great versatility, and provides all the performance attributes that customers have come to expect from a premium paint.”
From trending to tried-and-true
While aesthetics will always be a central concern for users, this year’s coating formulation trends favor savings in time, money and effort along with superior performance. The main concerns of architectural coating formulators may change with the ebb and flow of their industries, but BASF continues to develop chemistry that transcends “trend” status — and withstands the test of time.