Performance is a critical part of the equation when evaluating Earth-friendly paints yet it is often overlooked. Low VOCs, low odor, plant-based, all natural, derived from magical rainbows - we’re familiar with all the other criteria, but how should we factor in the durability of a paint?
There's been a lot of buzz surrounding scrub scrub ratings lately. While having low VOCs, low odor and being environmentally friendly are important qualities to look for in a paint, so is the scrub rating. The truth of the matter is, if you're specifying a product with scrub rating of 300 scrubs, it's simply not going to hold up to the daily wear and tear and you're going to find yourself repainting all. the. time.
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, testing a paint’s durability requires something a bit more objective. The durability test method that the paint industry agreed upon is American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D2486 Scrub test. In this test, dried paint samples are repeatedly scrubbed with an abrasive brush until the surface of the paint deteriorates. This determines the number of “scrubs to failure”. The higher the number, the more durable the paint.
Well, What Does That Mean?
Think about it; the less durable a paint is, the more often it’s going to need to be touched-up and repainted. If you are frequently repainting–even with low VOC paints–you are repeatedly releasing more VOCs into the environment. And in addition to wasting time and money with recurring product and install costs, you're also increasing the amount of paint that is manufactured, shipped, delivered to the job site, and ultimately disposed of. To avoid the vicious cycle of repaints, do a little research and be sure you are picking the most durable, lowest VOC paints you can find.
What To Look For
If you are painting a smaller, low traffic area that doesn't need to be cleaned often, you might be able to get away with a paint that has low scrub rating. You'll likely need to repaint within a few years or so, but it should hold up fine to light traffic and look good for a while.
For those of us in need of the more durable product that can hold up to traffic AND be cleaned often, you'll want to make sure you are specifying a product with a high scrub rating. To avoid repainting, look for a product with an ASTM D2486 scrub rating of around 2,500 scrub scrubs to failure. This product, for example, has around 5130 scrub cycles.
Remember, the higher the scrub rating the more durable the product. The best coatings out there will have only a slightly higher VOC level than competing products but they will have dramatically higher scrub ratings. In the long run, that’s better for the environment, better for the budget, and better for the building.
Where Do I Start?
When it's time to specify paint for your project, make sure you ask your client what's important to them. Is it durability? Meeting environmental standards? Have a conversation with them about what they expect out of their paint. If they're thinking long term and don't want to repaint, make sure you're looking into products with higher scrub ratings.
Get your own handy decision guide below to walk you through selecting your paint.