The paint sector constantly endeavours to counter the dual effects of harmful chemicals and wear and tear caused by the region’s environmental pressures. Mustapha Selim, Brand Manager, Caparol paints, throws light on a few of the high-tech solutions to hit the market.
The governmental push towards making the build -environment more eco-friendly has encouraged the paint and coatings industry to develop new technologies that provide healthier living and working environments. These new technologies allow for less power wastage, comfortable interior climates, increasingly durable and long lasting coatings that save time and money and lead to creating a sustainable-minded consumer.
In the Middle East, extreme weather conditions make these new technologies even more necessary than in other parts of the world. Excessive heat adds to the wear of coatings. Fortunately, however, there are solutions designed to withstand environmental pressures and simultaneously be light-footed on the environment. Moreover, products are being added to and redeveloped all the time. We are, therefore, likely to see a continuous flow of high-tech products hitting the market.
The efficacy of ETICS/EIFS
Poor or non-existent insulation in old buildings is one of the biggest carbon footprint culprits, especially in the Middle East, where air conditioning is a necessity. Good thermal insulation is, therefore, crucial to prevent heat from seeping in through the exterior building envelope to the inside living spaces.
ETICS/EIFS (External Thermal Insulation Composite Systems/Exterior Insulation and Finishing System) play a key role in maintaining temperatures within buildings and, thereby, lowering power consumption. In this regard, new technologies are adding to the efficacy of ETICS/EIFS by combining black and white expanded polystyrene beads, which together create the right mix of insulation and flexibility.
To insulate well, it is not necessary to have thick walls. New technology uses products that are thin and light weight, incorporating a carbon fibre base coat that reinforces it, making insulation systems 20 times more impact-resistant and, thereby, more durable.
ETICS/EIFS is longer lasting, needs less labour to install, and can easily be painted over. Yes, there is a marginal difference in cost when installing good insulation. However, in the long run, there are enormous savings to be made. Proper ETICS/EIFS installation has been known to cut building energy consumption by up to 40%.
In the heat of the Gulf sun, surfaces expand and contract continuously. Unless a coating can move with and accommodate this expansion and contraction, it will generally become brittle and crack, failing prematurely and no longer doing the job of beautifying and protecting the substrate. To solve this problem, there are paints made from pure acrylic resins that help ensure that the products not only cope well with the expansion and contraction movements of surfaces, but also stand up to the degrading effects of UV radiation, thus ensuring a system that lasts the maximum time.
These high-tech paints also incorporate film preservatives which offer special protection against algae and mildew growth.
Low VOC paints
Some paints and coatings on the market contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are toxic chemicals that evaporate easily into the air, where they are inhaled by humans and animals. These chemicals also go up into the atmosphere, where they contribute to global climate change.
The reason companies continue to produce paints containing VOCs is because they allow for quicker drying time and easier application in terms of viscosity and flow. One can usually identify high VOC paint by the intense smell that can linger for weeks or even months after application.
From an environmental perspective, VOCs have the potential to create photochemical smog, contributing to the greenhouse effect and ozone depletion. As VOCs are evident long after application, both the applicators of the paint and those living and working in the newly painted area are affected. Therefore, the best way to avoid exposure to the potential health hazards is to choose an appropriate product with lowest VOC content.
Products with almost zero VOC content are now available, and are becoming increasingly popular amongst homeowners in the Middle East, who are becoming better educated about domestic toxins and the potential impact of exposure to them.
The paints, coating and insulation industry has stepped up in terms of sustainability. Now it is just a case of getting the construction industry to take up these new technologies and reap the long-term benefits therein.
The writer is Brand Manager, Caparol Paints. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org