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By: Custom Coatings on February 10th, 2021

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Five Smart Tips for Painting High-Traffic Education Spaces

Commercial painting | School Painting

Schools are public icons – visible monuments to the investment a community makes in its future. If you’re a school facility manager, you get it. Great grounds, a crisply painted exterior, and hallways and classrooms that feel fresh and clean are a standard that you will battle to uphold through time, wear and the grime of a couple hundred bodies shuffling through the space nine months out of the year.

Did you also know however, that selecting both the right kind of paint and the right caliber of school painting contractor can make a big difference to the cleanability and durability of your surfaces?

At Custom Coatings, we’ve been painting and maintaining the look of schools for more than three decades. Along the way, we’ve learned quite a bit about efficiency, effective materials, and ways to ensure your school maintains its appearance long term. In our experience, it all starts with choosing the right materials for the job.

Our very best tip? Select the very best paint you can afford.

Before you skewer us for trying to up-sell every client, you should understand that for the most part, to us, paint is paint. The hours of labor it takes to apply it are largely the same whether you opt for the cheapest stuff out there, or the highest-tech premium brand. (Note: There are a few exceptions to that rule; see below for more.) All in all, for basic clean, prep, repair and one coat of paint to your walls, you’ll be looking at an average of $.45-$.65 per square foot on walls that are 10’ or less. Paint price affects that cost, but less than you’d expect over a large job.

What quality of paint does significantly affect however, is how well your paint wears and how long it will be before you’ll need to paint again.

 

Here’s our best advice on getting the most from your dollar and the work:

High-quality paint is more cost-effective in the long run.

As mentioned above, the labor cost is the same for a team to install $10 a gallon paint and $100 a gallon paint, but the life cycle of the more expensive paint will be much longer, meaning your cost per project will be lower overall. It’s pretty simple math: Higher quality paint carries a higher price tag per gallon, but costs the same in labor to install as cheap paint. The better paint however will last longer, extending the cost of installation out over more years than with the cheap stuff. Oh, and once the calculation is done, great quality paint almost always comes out on top.

 

Better paint can save in other ways too.

Imagine you have 80 door frames in your facility. They take a little time to paint and require quite a bit of attention to detail. Imagine as well that the painter is using a high-quality paint to get the job done. High quality water-based epoxies are smooth and silky. They flow onto a surface nicely and don’t easily leave obvious brush marks. A school painting contractor using a paint like this is going to create a beautiful result in less time, with crisp-clean lines and fewer streaks and bubbles.

Imagine however, that you’ve given that same skilled contractor sub-standard paint. Inexpensive paints tend to be sticky, globby, and more difficult to make smooth or cover evenly. The same hands are spreading the paint, but the task is harder to make look great, so your craftsmen spends more time, charging more in labor costs. Over the course of 80 doors, it adds up. Choose better paint and you choose a seamless, swift application experience.

 

Premium paints can be cleaned more often and wear better over time.

School surfaces take a lot of abuse. First from dirt, grime, scuffs, and even chemicals (think photo studios and chemistry labs). Then, those surfaces take abuse again when the custodial staff gets down to business scrubbing them. Hot water and industrial cleaners can do a number on painted surfaces, but you’re not going to just not clean them, so how can you extend the life of your paint job?

Again, better quality paints make a difference. More premium paints simply clean up better, withstanding both solvents and scrubbing better than their cheaper, thinner counterparts. You know the trouble spots: that scuffed-up place low on the hallway wall that seems to attract dark-soled tennis shoes like a magnet; that area in the cafeteria where an overzealous custodian scrubbed so hard the paint has actually rubbed off. Better paint will both better repel stains and better withstand scrubbing over time. So, go for the good stuff and scrub away. Your walls can handle it.

 

Cheaper means more room for error.

Many paints must be mixed on-site in specific ratios to make them usable (and even then, cheaper options often don’t apply well).  Simply not having to account for the the precision needed to measure and combine your paint’s elements in the midst of a worksite can save your team time, and save your project from becoming an unnecessary headache. Better paints that come pre-mixed save time by removing a step from the process.

You’re obviously going to hire an experienced contractor to do your next school painting project (You are, right?), and they should be able to handle paint mixing, but minimizing complications and potential human error created by this unnecessarily fussy task is just a good idea if you can do it. When the job is large, risk-aversion is just a smart move all around.

 

Armed with all this information, you’re just about ready to find a school painting contractor, get an estimate, and plan your project. But there's one more decision to make, and it’s an important one:

What paint should I choose?

The answer: Pre-mixed epoxies and urethanes are the gold standard.

These high-quality paints are water borne, not solvent-based. This means they don’t release as many smelly fumes into the air, helping with air quality and keeping staff and others who will spend time in freshly painted rooms comfortable. These epoxies also come pre-catalyzed – pre-mixed as a single component, ready to go on the wall. They hold back stains and scuffs well, wear hard even after cleaning with harsh chemicals, and go on like a dream.

As for brand, Sherwin Williams makes one, PPG makes one, and Benjamin Moore makes one. They're all good.

 

Have additional questions? We’re here to help. Contact us at info@customcoatingsinc.com or visit our website to fill out a contact form. Want more helpful tips and information on school and university commercial painting? Check out our education series on our blog, including How to Ensure Painting on Your Schedule and How Much Will it Cost to Paint My School?