Every good tradesperson knows the importance of quality products in achieving a superior finish on a job. When it comes to exterior surfaces of timber, metal or masonry there may be the need for a preservative or finish other than the natural surface of the materials of landscape components. Enhancing and preserving landscape components with the use of exterior paints allows any number of design effects to be enhanced. The new generation of exterior paints has advanced in terms of technology to ensure not just a quality finish, but also other characteristics that will enhance the longevity of finish and component protection.
Paint manufacturers are exploring a whole new world of technology that is producing paints with some very cool characteristics from bacteria stomping formulas, mould and fungus resistant properties as well as heat reducing compounds, fire retardant paints and paints that are elasticised to eliminate cracking. There are even paints that have infrared reflective technology that reflects solar rays back into the atmosphere. Infrared reflective coatings aim to offer protection from cracking, peeling, mildew, and premature weathering, especially in warm climates. Aesthetic appeal and durability have been the hallmarks of paint selection in the past but with the new generation of exterior paint products available there is a lot more to consider.
Exfire is the Australian distributor of FIRESHELL, a product worth considering as a paint finish on timber landscape components particularly in bushfire prone areas where asset protection is a primary consideration. This product can be used on exterior timber and other combustible surfaces reducing ignition and flame spread. A breakthrough in exterior fire-resistant paint technology AS3959 compliant FIRESHELL stops ignition and stops flame spread on the coated surface. FIRESHELL meets the requirements for bushfire-resisting timber specified in AS3959:2009 Construction of Buildings in bushfire-prone areas Appendix F.
When exposed to direct flame, radiant heat or ember the product reacts to the heat forming a carbon char layer, encapsulating the timber surface and providing an ignition barrier. It is ideal for use with bushfire resistant timbers and in a wide variety of landscape applications, including timber decks and sub floors, exposed joist and rafters, weatherboards and fencing.
As with all exterior coatings there will be a price difference between quality products. Specialist paints and surface preservatives may come at a significant cost but the benefits will offset the expense. Timber paint applications can be limiting in that the finished surface yields a solid colour that can detract from the natural beauty of the timber and can date in terms of colour trends and design. Despite this there are certain applications where paints are preferable as a timber finish. The type of wood being used in construction will to some extent determine the type of timber preservative finish required. Paints, like stains, are available in both oil and acrylic formulations, the choice of one over the other will be largely determined by specific project requirements and timber type. One drawback with paint as a preservative is they are topical and do not penetrate the timber. Cut ends on painted timbers will require treatment to prevent possible decay or insect damage.
Nano technology in paints is the new frontier when it comes to surface protection. Nanomaterials are chemical substances or materials that are manufactured and used at a very small scale. Nanomaterials are developed to exhibit novel characteristics compared to the same material without nanoscale features, such as increased strength, chemical reactivity or conductivity. Nanomaterials are thought to improve the functionalities of paint’s water and dirt repellence making the surface ‘easy to clean’, UV-protected, antimicrobial resistance, scratch resistance or extending the paint’s lifespan. There are even nano paints that can block the signals from mobile phones. Innovations such as this will continue to advance as nano technologies and their application are still in the infancy stage of development. Taubmans is an Australian company using nano paint technology to bring superior products to the market. Taubmans Endure is engineered with Nanoguard, which has an interlocking molecular structure that creates a protective shield so everyday dirt and stains can be wiped away without compromising the quality of the paint. It provides excellent mould and mildew protection and is one of the most advanced paint technologies available today.
Microban ingredients in Taubmans Easycoat paint provide antibacterial protection against bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, Golden Staph and the growth of mould, mildew and fungus on painted surfaces. It is ideal for walls and ceilings in bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms as well as damp, high humidity areas, ideal for enclosed alfresco areas in a landscape.
Dulux is another company leading the way in exterior paint technology, completely committed to providing customers with the very best in professional exterior paint products. Dulux Weathershield range of exterior paints incorporates stretch technology, Dulux MaxiFlex Stretch Technology provides a tough flexible finish for long life protection under all Australian weather conditions. Dulux guarantees that this product will not blister, flake or peel and it has the added benefit of being self-priming on most surfaces.
Traditional exterior paints such as acrylics have the benefit of being water based, which provides them with a distinct environmental advantage and mildew does not feed on the acrylic resins making them suitable in more humid environments. Clean up with soap and water also gives acrylic products the edge over oil-based products but clean up should not be the only consideration when it comes to product performance.
Oil based paints and timber coatings are still very popular and many of these have been formulated to provide exceptional penetrating qualities. This gives the timber a greater degree of resistance to both climatic degradation and insect, bacterial or fungal organism attack. Oil based products also tend to last longer between reapplication requirements than their acrylic counterparts.
Acrylic and oil based products in both stains and paints have been formulated for increased UV protection. This is an important consideration particularly in highly exposed situations. Despite the new wave of nano paint technology, traditional paints can be just as effective in many landscape applications. Whatever paint product is selected for covering exposed surfaces in a landscape, purchase the best product for the job. Price points are not such a contentious issue for many clients particularly when they know they are getting value for money. Nano paints may cost a little more than traditional products but the functionality of these products can make them a better financial investment in the long run, particularly when their longevity based on degradation under UV exposure can far exceed that of some of the more traditional formulations. So, paint the town red, the colour combinations are endless and can take any landscape construction from drab to fab, one brush stroke at a time.