Ultra Spec® 500 Review — The Perfect Paint for Facility Services?

Review of Ultraspec 500
Is Ultraspec 500 the perfect paint for facility services and maintenance painting?
Benjamin Moore first introduced the
Gennex waterborne colorants system for their top line paints. The Aura and Natura lines benefited immensely from this new technology. The writing was on the wall for their commercial paint lines. We expected that the new technology to trickle down to most of their paints. When Ultraspec 500 was introduced the commercial painting community jumped all over it. This was supposed to be a paint made specifically for us. It was also inexpensive, good quality and had zero VOC in all colours.

Benjamin Moore says Zero-VOC Ultra Spec 500 is a professional-quality interior coating designed to meet the needs of professional painting contractors, facility managers, and property managers. Professionals will appreciate its excellent hiding and touchup properties, good flow and leveling, easy application, and soap-and-water cleanup.”

The Review of Ultra Spec 500.

It’s been a few years since it was introduced, why review Ultraspec 500 now? We used thousands of gallons of this product, so why not share our experience with it. Overall this is still our “go to” interior paint for most commercial projects. In fact it’s the perfect paint for Offices, medical and care facilities.
Painting facility maintenance with Ultraspec 500

Quick Drying Time and Recoat.

When a paint dries faster the painters can apply multiple coats in the same day. This feature alone opened many scheduling opportunities for us. Occupied spaces don’t have to be painted at night or during the weekend. Like most employees, painters prefer not to work weekends or evenings. Facility managers don’t have to arrange night and weekend access and security clearance. Rooms and areas can be prepared, coated and put back in service the same day. When heavy furniture is moved away from walls these walls can be painted twice within 2-4 hours. Less furniture moving results in lower expenses to the customer and of course less work for the painters.

Durability of the Paint.

Ultra Spec 500 uses patent-pending cross-linking resin technology that strengthens the dry paint film and significantly extends the life of the coating. As a result, Ultra Spec 500 is more washable than most comparable commercial coatings. It comes in a wide range of sheen levels which are actually very thoughtful. There is a low sheen version of eggshell which makes for a more durable alternative to a flat finish. The low sheen  compensates  for surface conditions that are in bad condition. When the walls are in better condition, their eggshell with it’s higher sheen will provide a durable coating.

In washrooms and utility rooms where the eggshell is not durable enough, the semi-gloss can be used. The semi-gloss has a softer than usual sheen for a semi-gloss. Along with the shinier eggshell the semi compensates for the lack of Pearl or Satin sheens.
The semigloss sheen is sufficient for most doors and woodwork. If additional durability is needed there is a Gloss finish available.

Ultra Spec 500 Hiding Properties.

The ability of dried paint film to conceal (hide) the previous colour is called hiding. This can be determined by the tools we use and also the thickness of the film we are able to provide. Different paints contain varying grades and quality of resins in them. Volume solids is the volume of paint after it has dried.The percentage of solids content per volume is a primary factor of how well a paint film hides the previous colour.

Ultraspec 500 lists Volume Solids of 42 ± 2% in their technical data sheet (eggshell). This is a very high percentage for any paint, especially a commercial line.

In corresponds accurately in real life experiences of this paint application. Two coats are sufficient for most colours except certain bright whites (OC-65 Chantilly Lace comes to mind). Hiding red with two coats works most of the time when a gray primer is used. Certain reds oranges and yellows will require a third coat. While that is to be expected with most paints, Benjamin Moore spoiled us with Aura’s performance. To be fair, Aura costs twice as much as Ultraspec 500.

The Flat is not 100% dead flat. Because of it’s good hiding qualities painters use it for new construction and real estate purposes. As expected, the flat sheen is not at all washable and we don’t recommend it where washing is needed. We use a lot of the flat as a ceiling paint. It dries very quick and often allows a second coat within one hour. When painting a ceiling in a room with large windows Ultraspec 500 may not be the right paint. A dead flat is a better choice for these ceilings.

Best residential use. Good value zero VOC product. Ideal for new construction, quick turnaround repaints, apartment painting. It has a good ceiling flat, a pleasant low sheen line and a zero VOC primer.

In Conclusion.

Ultraspec is a very good line of paint for facility managers. Zero VOC, with good hiding and durability and quick drying make it ideal. The relatively low pricing and availability makes it a popular choice for painting contractors as well.

Ecopainting is an experienced painting contractor in the Greater Toronto Area. We have painted for many facility managers and will be happy to discuss your facilities paint requirements.

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