Painting the interior of a commercial building is a major undertaking for property managers or facility operators. When the building is empty the project is much easier to execute. There are no tenants to work around and nobody gets inconvenienced. In an empty or new building the challenges are all about production. The general contractor expects good production, and a reliable painting crew. Cooperation with the other trades and flexible scheduling is the expectation here.
Painting the office interiors while the building is functioning is a different proposition. The building’s tenants are not always able to alter their business activity. The contractors needs and schedule are secondary to safeguarding the customer’s convenience.
The Painting Maintenance Alternative
One way to deal with this major undertaking is to do a little at a time. Facility managers can implement painting maintenance as part of the overall maintenance plan for the building. Busy areas get prioritised and painted during weekends or after business hours. Hallways, elevator lobbies, common washrooms and doors see a lot of abuse and need to be freshened up often. The stairway walls, floors and railings do not get used as much, therefore require less attention.
When a tenant is relocating or moving in, there is a short window of opportunity to bring the painters in. This is a good time to examine the condition of the floor along with other elements of the suite. The painters can be in and out very quickly when they don’t have to worry about protecting flooring that will change.
What Paints to use
There is a lot of choice of low and zero VOC paints available to the contractor. Ecopainting has been painting since the nineties. We followed the development and used green coatings since then. Years ago zero VOC paint was not that durable. The lack of resins meant that it was “soft” on the surface. While that was acceptable for most wall surfaces, doors and frames still got painted with traditional acrylic or alkyd paints. The emergence of good bonding primers made the transition to low VOC paints much easier. Today there are many better options available to the painting contractor.
The new challenge is navigating through the claims manufacturers make for their new coatings. As usual, the most durable paints are the expensive ones. Zero VOC paint should stay at zero after colourants are added. Using cheaper paints for darker colours is a waste of money. Benjamin Moore for example, developed the “color lock” technology to address this problem and it actually works. The new waterborne alkyds meant to replace enamels are a big improvement but they have limitations.
New exterior coatings and interior paints have issues with adhering to the previous substrate. This is worse with darker colours because of the volume of tints in the paint. The solution for now is to use a good bonding primer. Some of the better primers are Urethane Modified Acrylics (UMA) and they will adhere to anything. We used them on hard surfaces such as glass or ceramic tiles with no issues. The solutions are now available for a conscious contractor to deliver a successful paint job.
The Plan and Sequencing the Job
The most successful paint jobs start in a meeting room. Right before the estimate, meet with the contractor and describe the specific situation of the facility. Which areas can be done during business hours and how? Are there any people on vacation? How much can be painted during weekends? What will our employees do when you paint the washrooms? The more concerns you share, the more time the contractor has to address them in the proposal.
After the job is awarded and the stakeholders are informed, it’s time to meet the contractor again. Now is the time to make specific plans, taking everyone’s input into account. Keep in mind these plans should allow for some flexibility, especially on larger projects. Sometimes the project will slow down and other times it will speed up. It’s a good idea to stay open minded to these possibilities, especially because of factors that can’t be controlled. Daily communication with the crew managers and the building staff makes the project go smooth. More importantly bring up any issues that come up as soon as possible. Daily little annoyances can end up being bigger issues if not addressed properly.
For years, Ecopainting Inc. has been painting building interiors for commercial clients. We can work directly for the tenant company or the facility manager. This type of painting is our specialty and we have done a lot of it.
If your company premises need painting services call 416 733-7767 and request a consultation. We will address your needs right from the start and give you the confidence to move forward with a smooth project. Take a look at our client list. It’s very extensive and a good representation of our corporate clients.
Note – update: Starting in 2019 Ecopainting is using the new Benjamin Moore SCUFF-X for all interior maintenance painting. The paint features good scuff resistance and durability.