Can you imagine:
• Achieving a Venetian plaster effect over bare drywall in one day?
• Achieving a Level 5 finish with color and durability over bare drywall in one day?
• Achieving a textural finish with color, scrubbability and mold and mildew resistance over bare drywall in one day?
• Achieving metallic finishes with no special preparations?
Now, can you imagine the competitive advantages and profits that would come with these industry-changing innovations?
REAL-WORLD CONCERNSVenetian plasters, metallic finishes, textural coatings and multicolored decorative wall finishes have risen in popularity in recent years. It is clear that consumers–whether they are custom homebuilders, commercial contractors, property owners, architects or interior designers–have a thirst for these unique looks. But it is also clear that they usually have concerns relating to the cost, timeline, final visual effect, and maintenance of these finishes. Unfortunately, most product manufacturers and installers have products that only the wealthy can afford in both time and dollar cost.
Now, there is an entirely new segment of products and processes that achieve these finishes on a realistic commercial budget and within a reasonable timeline that meets today’s fast-paced job sites. What was previously thought to be too costly, labor-intensive, specialized and high maintenance is now attainable and viable beyond its usual high-end residential niche.
Instead of artisans spending multiple days with sponges, feathers and trowels to achieve their decorative solutions, paint and drywall contractors can spend mere hours using sprayers, texture rigs and common tools to achieve the same decorative looks with an enhanced commercial durability.
Builders and general contractors are particularly excited about the new hybrid of products and processes. The previous obstacles in choosing a specialty finish were the change in work flow, special preparations to the substrates and the decrease in productivity for all of the trades involved. By taking away these special needs and giving the decorative solutions to the drywall contractors and painters, the possibilities for success expand dramatically.
In recent years hospitality, commercial and residential new-construction markets have seen the new trend with the emergence of knockdown textures applied by both paint and drywall contractors. These popular treatments provide a visual texture, while usually lowering the overall cost of wall and ceiling finishes.
Some of these same contractors are getting involved in sprayed Level 5 finishes prior to the painting and finishing stages of a project. While both the textural knockdown and the Level 5 finishes provide cost-effective alternatives, they don’t take advantage of opportunities with high-end custom finishes like Venetians, metallics and multicolored finishes.
After keeping a close watch on the growth of these market niches, a few manufacturers have stepped up to the challenge and combined innovations in product development with a focus on the field needs of the contractors who, as we all know, can make or break any product specification.
After more than 20 years as a painter, I have personally witnessed the failure of some wonderful products due to either the nature of the installation or the multiple days involved in the installation process. The new products allow virtually anyone on a paint or drywall crew to contribute to the decorative process, using tools and timelines that are their daily norm.
EASIER VENETIAN WITH A SPRAYERLet’s start with Venetian Plasters. Generally speaking, these high-end, handcrafted finishes are pricey, as they require meticulous wall preparations and primers along with highly trained installers to trowel multiple layers on the walls and ceilings.
An innovative process achieves a similar look in a fraction of the time using airless spray equipment. Instead of getting the wall finish to a Level 5 and applying primer and paint, then the Venetian finish, this can be achieved over a standard Level 3 finish in one step.
The Innovative Process:
Step 1: A special acrylic coating with marble-reinforced resin, sprayed through an airless machine capable of shooting one gallon per minute, sprayed 12 ml wet, can achieve the first step of a Venetian finish in one application, prior to the trimming or finishing of a space. This 8 ml dry Level 5 finish, which has the color and high scrubbability, is the foundation for the final steps of this Venetian look.
Step 2: A few hours later, the contractor can skip trowel or sponge roll and back skim a very tight finish of the same previously sprayed coating, creating the visual effect of troweled plaster.
Step 3: Either the same day or later, the contractor can roll or spray on a decorative semi-transparent glaze. This can be left to dry, polished around with a rag or simply squeegeed tight to highlight the texture and create the polished effect of Venetian plaster.
Timeline: This amazing decorative effect takes no more time than primer and two coats of paint. This is achieved in either one or two days, depending on the other trades. It is recommended that the glazing be the last finish in the project.
A QUICKER LEVEL 5Generally speaking, a Level 5 finish requires multiple steps by highly trained plaster or drywall contractors. There are some high-build primers that achieve this effect with sprayed applications. These Level 5 primers require a couple of coats of paint to achieve color and washability.
The Innovative Process:
Step 1 (the ONLY Step): A special acrylic coating with marble-reinforced resin, sprayed through an airless machine capable of shooting one gallon per minute, sprayed at 12 mill wet, can achieve a Level 5 finish. This 8 ml dry Level 5 finish has the color and high scrubbability and does NOT require any additional paint. This finish can be easily washed clean with no burnish marks and in cases of serious wall damage, the coating can be touched up and blended in by hand without the use of a sprayer or the need to repaint an entire wall.
TEXTURAL KNOCKDOWNTextural Knockdown finishes are currently prevalent in the hospitality market. These coatings first gained popularity due to concerns over the use of commercial vinyl wallcovering and the many mold and mildew issues as well as environmental debates on PVC related to vinyl.
Most knockdown finishes are achieved by blowing joint compound onto a wall and then knocking it down. The finish is completed with the application of a couple of coats of paint. In some cases, the coating is a water-based textural paint with aggregate and color integrally applied in a two-step spray application. Most systems designed to address the issues of mold and mildew as well as scrubbability require a special primer and a clear coat. This takes the process from two steps to four and drives up the cost and timeline.
The Innovative Process:
Step 1: A special acrylic coating with marble-reinforced resin, sprayed through an airless machine capable of shooting one gallon per minute, sprayed at 8 ml wet, primes, seals and paints a smooth base coat over bare drywall. This first step is mold and mildew resistant as well as permeable.
Step 2: Thirty minutes later, the same product is then spattered on the wall with a hopper gun system and then knocked down for the final result. No clear coat or additional paint coating is required.
GOING METALLICThe high-end glitz and shimmer of these usually temperamental coatings require a nearly perfect wall finish prior to application. Multiple coats at a higher price than paints, special spray equipment, along with maintenance issues, are the leading field concerns related to this finish. Today, the general rule when applying metallic paints is to have a drywall finish devoid of imperfections, primed and painted with two coats of paint and then followed by at least two coats of metallic paint.
The Innovative Process:
Step 1: A new hybrid of true metallic pigmented products allows for the application of a metallic finish to be achieved in a one-coat spray or roll application over conventional primer.
A recommended approach to easy application of metallic coatings is a random-rolled application. A random, “sweeping V” pattern is suggested for a soft and subtle directional effect. This effect enhances the shimmer and natural beauty of metallics while hiding any drywall seams or imperfections.
The arena of decorative wall finishes–using some of these innovative products and processes–opens up a new way for builders and paint and drywall contractors to leverage these offerings to grow their margins and beat the competition. We no longer need to assume that a high-end look requires an enhanced budget, or increased work time. Contractors who take a serious look at these field-friendly innovative systems may watch their business grow in ways that they never thought commercially viable before.