Sugar coatings – trends in the paint and coatings industry

by Darren
Sugar coatings

WALLS & ROOFS revisits the latest paint trends, applications and innovative products on the market.


Achieving satisfying colour is not simply a case of going to the paint store and selecting the right shade of paint anymore. Paint has become so much more – it has become a case of selecting tones and contrasts and proper chemical make-up.

The ABCs of paint and coatings
• Anti-climb paint: A non-drying paint that appears normal while being extremely slippery. Used on drainpipes and public spaces to deter burglars and vandals from climbing them.
• Anti-fouling paint: Prevents marine organisms from adhering to the hulls of ships.
• Anti-graffiti paint: Used to defeat the marking of surfaces by graffiti vandals.
• Eggshell finish: Has slight sheen to it, ideal for bathroom walls.
• Emulsion paint: Water-based paint used for painting interior or exterior surfaces.
• Enamel paint: Has a hard, glossy finish and contains glass powder or tiny metal flake fragments instead of the colour pigments.
• Flat finish: Used on ceilings or walls.
• Glaze: It is an additive used with paint to slow drying time and increase translucency.
• Insulative paint: Reduces the rate of thermal transfer through a surface to which is applied.
• Lacquer: Fast-drying solvent-based paint or varnish that produces an especially hard, durable finish.
• Primer: A preparatory coating put on materials before painting to ensure better adhesion of paint to the surface.
• Roof coating: A fluid-applied membrane which has elastic properties that allow it to stretch and return to its original shape without damage.
• Varnish and shellac: Provide a protective coating without changing the colour.
• Wood stain: It is a type of paint that is low in viscosity and formulated so that the pigment penetrates the surface rather than remaining in a film on the surface.

The technology bug has bitten the coatings industry in a big way, as high-tech innovations are making their way onto shelves.

Exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) has been related to organic solvent syndrome, although this relation has been somewhat controversial. This has resulted in the continuous development of innovative low- or zero-VOC “power” paints. These power paints often have less colour rub-off and added durability, while giving perfect coverage in one coat, with or without the use of primers.

Trend talk

Some of the most notable innovations on the technological front include detector paints, which change colours, anti-microbial paints that inhibit the growth of mould and mildew, and super-saturated paints that provide better coverage while using less paint.

“Eco” is also a big word in the coatings industry. Low- or zero-VOC and non-gassing paints are able to be environmentally sound while making homes healthier and anti-allergenic. Apart from that, paint has also become a solution to reducing a building’s energy consumption with the dawn of the “cool roofing” trend.

Plascon’s roof paint products, for example, are fitted with a formulation that boasts increased solar reflectance characteristics. According to Plascon South Africa’s senior marketing executive, Carol Ras, the company is extremely aware of its products and manufacturing processes and their impact on the environment.

Tony Mash, president of TMA Consulting in the United Kingdom, recently addressed the Coatings for Africa 2013 Symposium and noted: “The coatings industry needs to take the lead and develop a consistent global approach to sustainability to avoid confusion, over-complexity, unnecessary manufacturing costs, supply chain sub-optimisation and ‘greenwash’.”

Mash said to boost innovation, both raw material production and coatings manufacturing had to be considered. “Bio-sourced raw materials with lower carbon footprints, coupled with improved efficiency in production and supply chain management, are essential components in the selection of raw materials. In coatings manufacturing, energy reduction, closed loop systems to reduce emissions, moving tinting to as late as possible in the production process to reduce waste, and rain harvesting and recycling to reduce water usage have to be introduced.”

He concluded that a globally co-ordinated approach to sustainability would ensure that efforts on one continent were not negated by the actions of another, and would reduce the high cost of regulation and manufacturing, particularly for multi-national coatings companies due to scale and reduced product range complexity.

The growing demand for green products and rising energy and raw material prices have been continuously driving formulators to seek multifunctional ingredients.
Natural ingredients have also gained popularity in the past few years, as ingredient suppliers discover a broad range of new raw materials that afford increased formulating flexibility to coating manufacturers.


Paint and coatings manufacturers have also made significant technical advances in paint production and application processes, mostly aimed at reducing energy and water consumption and dramatically lowering CO2 emissions.

The use of stir-in pigments, for example, has resulted in reduced waste, lower overall costs and increased colour consistency. Xfast stir-in pigments from BASF are supplied as free-flowing, low-dusting granules and can be stirred directly into aqueous coating formulations. They are tailor-made for application in aqueous architectural paints and coatings and in the construction industry. The pigments can be directly incorporated into substrates such as emulsion paints, lacquers, plasters and mortars. Furthermore, they are excellent starting materials for the facile, easily reproducible formulation of aqueous preparations.

Quick and easy are also the buzzwords in a world that wants everything done better, faster and cheaper. The introduction of high-performance formulations has eliminated entire steps in the painting process by providing satisfactory coverage in one easy coat.

Lighting up the night

At the 2013 Design Indaba Conference in Cape Town, another jaw-dropping technology in the paint and coatings industry was showcased by Daan Rosegaarde of Studio Rosegaarde in the Netherlands, who has been working on developing glow-in-the-dark road paint for use on road markings.

The project, “Smart Highway”, is backed by Heijmans Infrastructure, and aims to eliminate the need for streetlamps via road markings powered by photo-luminescent paint that absorbs the sun’s energy during the day and emits light during the night.

The new colour wheel
• Mix and match unexpected pairings such as orange and purple.
• Holistic palettes that affect the human psyche.
• Full-spectrum colour means that there is red, blue and yellow in every colour, eliminating the use of black.


Howard Harris, an independent energy consultant, says the coatings industry should use the global demand for increased sustainability to its advantage instead of regarding it as an obstacle to future profitability. “If the South African paint industry cannot comply with future demands for lowering the VOC content in paints, an increasing number of buildings will remain unpainted,” Harris warns.

Ongoing efforts focus on future expectations for the industry, taking into consideration the continued need for minimising the environmental impact of processes, ingredients and final coatings products. Raw material availability, energy costs, transportation issues, geographical differentiation, global and regional regulatory requirements are all factors that need to be considered when developing new technologies and products.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to the South African Paint Manufacturers Association, Plascon Group and BASF for the information given to write this article.

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