New trends, palettes and coatings for the paint industry

by Tania Wannenburg
new trends palettes

Anne Roselt of Plascon and Helen Gurura of Cedar Paints give top information on the latest trends regarding colours, textures and functional spaces.


The paint and coatings industry is constantly changing, with new trends, palettes and colour schemes that continuously give design professionals more options. Walls & Roofs Magazine spoke to industry leaders to find out more about the latest trends, as well as learn more about functional colour, how texture and finishes change the perception and depth of colour, and how all of this can be combined to create aesthetic, workable and intriguing environments for building occupants.

Plascon’s 2015 Colour Forecast was recently launched at Decorex in Johannesburg. Plascon’s colour expert, Anne Roselt, is one of South Africa’s leading colour authorities, having previously served for ten years on the panel of the London-based International Colour Authority (ICA) and now contributing to the panel of Global Colour ResearchTM– a global thought leader in the world of colour and interiors and the colour experts behind MIX magazine.

“Plascon’s Colour Forecasts are a blend of the latest trends, both locally and internationally. Each colour plays a vital role in translating the trends that we see in a multitude of industries,” says Roselt.
The four main colour themes for 2015 are Urban Glow, Natural Balance, Vivid Expression and Tailor-Made.

Urban Glow
Urban Glow explores an ethereal world within an urban scene, inspired by the first light of dawn over a cityscape. It is a beautiful combination of a pastel-coloured sky to more graphic accents of the industrial landscape. Urban Glow is a story full of hope, exploring the progression of colour to create spaces with illusory aesthetics, allowing us to escape into another world. Some of the key points in this trend include that we see paint effects are back with multi-colour washes, ombre and diffused shades.

Natural Balance
Exploring the cycle of life in the natural world, the first signs of new growth, ageing and decaying, all breed a colour palette with added depth and curiosity. Health and wellbeing are the new commodities, with nature being a key driver in creating soothing spaces. Natural Balance explores the importance of bringing nature to our homes, as well as other living and working spaces. People feel happier, more relaxed and are more productive when they are in close contact with nature. Worn finishes, gloss sheens, rich colours and tranquil spaces are all key influences of the Natural Balance theme.

Vivid Expression
Vivid Expression is a celebration of bright colours uniting in one story and reflecting a world where seasonality no longer applies. These bright tropical hues challenge our preconceptions with clashing colour combinations and artistic paint effects, creating a joyful and playful atmosphere. Vivid Expression heightens the senses with floral overloads, large-scale designs and indulgent surface decorations.

Delighting in the everyday, Tailor-Made explores a quiet luxury where simple design is valued for its honest and thoughtful approach. Familiar objects and everyday materials are renewed using this new palette, forming a trend that builds emotional connections. Driving the story are the warm neutrals offering the ultimate approach to comfort, with deep colours to create intimate spaces and great backdrops for furniture and collections.

Functional colour: A growing trend in architectural colour specifications
“While focusing on trends and new ideas is a great way to keep on top of industry needs, there’s also a lot more that goes into choosing colours for various spaces,” says Helen Gurura, architectural colour design consultant and residential colour specialist at Cedar Paint.
Mahnke et al (2007) states in his book, Colour – Communication in architectural space: “Trends in fashion and consumer goods might in fact be prepared and strategically planned for the economy, but this would be erroneous in the field of architecture or interior design.”
“Responding to trends doesn’t always respect the need for effective colour design, which is based on psychology. Short-lived trends have the ability to contradict fundamental design philosophies,” says Gurura, who is also the vice-president of the International Association of Colour Consultants and Designers’ (IACC) International Committee representing South Africa.

Functional colour design is becoming ever more popular in the realms of the architectural colour specification process. This smart colour application approach not only takes into consideration the ergonomic role of colour, but also the human psycho-physiological reaction, including the psychological, neuropsychological, visual ergonomic and psychosomatic effects of hues within the built environment.

“Designers need to not assume that current colour trends and personal design traits are sufficient justification for the creation of suitable architectonic environments. Colour can supersede mere decorative impressions and the design of functionally appropriate environments will result in the creation of architectural spaces that benefit the end-user,” says Gurura, before explaining that colour is much more than a decorative element.

The use of colour in creating a psychological mood always has to fit the function of an architectural space and not entertain the senses. A classroom has a different function to a doctor’s consultation room, an industrial assembly line, an office work space, a restaurant etc.

“Colour has to be used in context and still manage to satisfy the aesthetic element of design,” says Gurura.

Cedar’s architectural and trade division is ushering in the concept of functional colour design locally. Their long-term specifications outlook includes geographic-specific palettes best suited for each province and/or region of South Africa.

Eco-trends in paint
One thing that is a top trend in the paint and colour scene is to be future-friendly. “Cedar’s efforts to go green have been supported by their compliance with lead-free legislation in the formulation of their decorative coatings range. Their awareness of the harmful effects synonymous with chemicals found in traditional industrial and decorative coatings, such as carbon-based volatile organic compounds (VOCs), has resulted in the substitution of high VOC-emitting additives with low VOC-emitting additives in their Premium Range paint product ranges,” says Gurura.

The effect of pigment tints on VOC levels
Pigment tints can increase the VOC level content by up to 10 grams per litre of paint, which implies that some pigments and their oxides have a greater likelihood of increasing the VOC content of paint than others would.

“Generally speaking, white, light and pale pastel colours have less VOC content compared to brighter, darker and deeper colour palettes,” said Gurura, before adding that Cedar’s colour forecast consequently included a range of timeless earthy classics – not only for their aesthetic appeal, but also due to sustainability reasons.

Enhancing the visual depth of paint with texture and coatings
The latest trends in wall coverings have also shifted from plain painted surfaces to the incorporation of texture, which enhances the visual depth and perceptual impact of colours on walls within the architectural space. The application of textured coatings to walls can help to bring some “architectural character” back to structures and focal points within the design space.

“Textured paint has the unique ability to absorb and reflect light. Depending on the finish used, textured paint can create unusual and unique visual colour effects if applied correctly. Textured coatings create a natural, heavy-bodied, earthy feel, whilst adding a sand-like finish to the walls,” says Gurura.

Introducing such textured paints to the walls incorporates elements of subliminal colour shifts to the surface, owing to the effects of light absorption and reflectance which textured surfaces are synonymous with. This effect has been clearly noted in contexts where the same colour looks radically different in appearance when painted on smooth versus rough surfaces.

Other coating trends include high-build trowel coatings, which provide a more refined textured finish. These unique products give a uniquely distinct granular finish and are popular for accentuating feature walls and architectural features of interest, including pillars and columns.

“The use of metallic and pearlescent coatings on interior walls is also proving to be trendy and popular. Metallic paints add a splurge of luxury and opulence to any given space. Owing to their metallic nature, they add dimension and create added depth to wall surfaces. Their colour effects exude a sense of sophistication and opulence,” concludes Gurura.

The importance of adhering to the technical specification of decorative paints

“Paint serves the dual function of decorating and protecting surfaces. The latter aspect is least understood and often overlooked,” says Toni Stella, national training manager at the South African Paint Manufacturing Association (SAPMA).

It is easier to decipher the functional aspects of coatings if you are aware of the constituent components that make up paint and understand their core role as additives. Paint is a water- or solvent-based coating, comprising of a blend of raw materials, namely resins, emulsions, pigments, solvents and additives.

Resins are the film-forming ingredients and binders that give paint most of its physical properties, including its adhesion and durability properties. This “film” is essential to protect a surface that has been coated. Emulsions are the water-based/aqueous resins and binders used in the paint manufacturing process.

“Pigments not only give the paint its colour, but also contribute to its opacity and hiding power. There are four main categories of pigments, namely colour pigments, extender pigments, titanium dioxide and rust-inhibiting pigments,” explains Stella.

Solvents, on the other hand, thin the resin/pigment mixture for easier application of the product, whilst additives evidently enhance the properties of paint and help to give the coating its flow, sag resistance and drying qualities.

“In addition, paint has numerous other characteristics inclusive of its gloss, sheen, durability, scrub-ability, opacity and flexibility attributes. It has numerous other properties that influence its appearance, application and overall performance, as well as those that help to define its viscosity, film thickness levels, hiding power, spreading rate and inherent thixotropic qualities,” says Stella.

Owing to the functional qualities of paint’s constituent composition as outlined above, it becomes much clearer to understand why adherence to a regimented application procedure is key if one wants to capitalise on the manufacturer’s product guarantee offered. A comprehensive paint coating specifications system consisting of a three-stage multiple components application process, inclusive of a primer, intermediate or undercoat and full-finish coat, is paramount if one’s objective is to ensure a successful paint job.

“Needless to say, this multiple component application process has to be accompanied by proper surface preparation – including a moisture content check of surfaces to be painted, the use of good quality application tools, compliance with the right painting weather conditions and most importantly, the employment of skilled, experienced and knowledgeable paint applicators,” continues Stella.

Application errors and incorrect product specifications are by far the greatest contributors to paint failure statistics recorded on coatings projects assessed. The latter aspect therefore implies that a paint specification given will realistically vary if the paint project is located within an urban, rural or coastal setting. Humidity, moisture, intense sunlight, as well as extremes of low and high temperatures, all play a role in the overall success of a coating system’s performance within exterior environments, which are in general often subjected to fluctuating climatic and weather variables.

By matching the correct product to function, paint can and will clearly protect the substrates and surfaces it has been applied directly onto.

General surface preparation tips from SAPMA

Depending on the state of the walls to be painted, there will be surface preparation requirements needed prior to applying any paint system. “For every hour of painting, five hours of preparation work is needed,” says Stella.

For surfaces that are in a sound condition, a good wash-down with liquid sugar soap or another suitable detergent will remove dirt, stains and grease which may have accrued over time.

Previously painted surfaces in a poor state will need more remedial action before paint work commences. Badly plastered walls, groves and indentations can create perceivable shadow effects, which will have an adverse effect on the overall appearance of your chosen paint colour.
“Scrape away loose flaking paint and any other irregularities of old paint. Ensure that all bare surfaces have been primed with a good quality alkali-resistant primer, and that glossy surfaces have been sanded down with sandpaper to provide good adhesion for both the universal undercoat and the final top coats specified,” says Stella.

Cracks should be filled with a flexible ready-mixed filler to create a smooth and even wall surface. If dampness is noted on the walls, the source of the moisture must be traced, before consequently filling and applying the correct damp sealer. The specified paint coating system can then be applied thereafter.

“Remember to apply at least two top coats for an appealing paint finish, and always make use of the services of a competent and qualified paint contracting team,” concludes Stella.

For more information, visit www.sapma.org.za, www.plascon.co.za and www.cedarpaint.co.za, to which full thanks and acknowledgement are given.

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