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Wet-applied coatings and finishes for commercial and institutional projects [AIA course]

This AIA CES Discovery course is worth 1.0 AIA CES HSW learning units.

February 18, 2015 |
Wet-applied coatings and finishes for commercial and institutional projects [AIA course]

A colorful hair spa called zoey + joey in Ann Arbor, Mich. “It’s a boutique salon that incorporates the simple use of color to support their brand,” says Wightman & Associates’ Marissa Kovatch. She says she usually specifies certain branded paint products as a basis of design, especially those that meet the VOC limits in LEED. Photo courtesy Wightman & Associates 

The rapid pace of development of improved liquid-applied materials and finishes has given Building Teams new options. These sprayable, paintable, or “gunnable” products can add performance and sustainability benefits and reach new levels of resiliency and durability. Architectural finishes from the paints, coatings, and sealants developed with nano-enhanced substances include site- and factory-applied coatings for structural concrete, steel, metal panels, aluminum frames, and other specialty metals.

Fortified with nanoparticles, these assemblies are often stronger, more durable, more resistant to fire, and easier to clean than traditional product, according to the science blog Nanowerk ( Some formulas with low or zero volatile organic compound (VOC) content have proven to be more resilient and stronger than their predecessors. In the case of masonry and concrete, the substances improve flowability and compacting--traits that improve the application of sealers and decorative finishes.

After reading this article, you should be able to:

  • Discuss the key issues related to coating, paint, and sealant specification, including sustainability and air quality considerations.
  • Describe how green standards, guide specifications and life cycle assessments, and environmental product declarations are used in the context of paint and coating selection and application.
  • List typical substrates for coatings, such as concrete and metal, and the key correlated considerations for coating selection.
  • Explain why in some circumstances it may be better for coatings and paints to be applied in the shop–and in some cases, why the materials might be better treated with anodizing or with no coating at all.


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