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A new generation of odor-free paints saves time and money.

Facilities managers and paint crews at hotels, healthcare facilities, schools, stores, and office buildings are challenged every day to meet tight paint schedules without disrupting guests, patients, customers, or workers. In the past, the best solution was to pay overtime rates and paint at night after the facility was closed. Not so today. A new generation of low-odor and odor-free paints has transformed the way facilities professionals and paint crews do their jobs.

Paint fumes can be a significant problem in active environments. Hotels, restaurants, offices, and apartments require routine repainting to look their best, but managers cannot afford to close off sections or annoy guests or tenants with lingering paint odor. Schools constantly need repainting, but paint odor can cause complaints from faculty, students, and parents to pile up at the principal's door. The healthcare environment offers the additional challenge of working around patients whose conditions can be aggravated by paint fumes.

Odor is caused by the solvents, additives, and resins traditionally used in formulating paints. Despite their smell, these components contribute beneficial characteristics to paint, such as ease of application and durability. In the earlier generation of low-odor paints, reducing the amount of solvents to lessen odor often meant sacrificing other positive qualities. After years of research, paint technology has developed to the point where solvents and other odor-causing components can be stripped out or replaced, and the resulting product has the qualities characteristic of premium paints.

Another impetus in the development of new low-odor and odor-free paints has been the growing concern about environmental quality. In 1999, the federal government imposed new regulations governing the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) allowed in paints. VOCs, the solvents that can cause paint odor, are believed to contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer in the earth's atmosphere. By developing paints with no or low levels of VOCs, paint manufacturers are creating environmentally friendly products.

Many paint manufacturers produce low-odor and odor-free paints. Characteristics to look for include a product that dries quickly, demonstrates excellent hide or coverage characteristics, is resistant to spattering during application, and leaves no detectable, lingering paint odor. Facilities managers have, found these qualities allow for repainted areas to be back in use within 24 hours -- rather than two to three days after painting. That means less lost revenue, lower painting costs, and limited inconvenience to occupants.

Duron Paints & Wallcoverings, Beltsville, MD, recently introduced Genesis [Odor-Free.sup.TM], an interior latex paint that contains no solvents and emits no detectable odor. It was developed to meet the demands of facilities managers who must avoid the disruption of paint fumes, while providing the application qualities and premium performance paint contractors require. It has been used by facilities ranging from the 728-room Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, to the Indiana Historical Society's four-story museum in Indianapolis to the PinnacleHealth Hospital system in central Pennsylvania.

Today's low-odor and odor-free paints offer facilities managers and building owners many benefits -- a premium finish, a health-conscious product, quicker turn-around of painted areas, and more revenue. But the greatest measure of success may be the satisfied clients of active facilities who never even notice that a paint job is under way -- right under their noses.

Gene Merrill is director of product development at Duron Paints & Wallcoverings, Beltsville, MD, the nation's fourth largest paint manufacturer with company-owned stores. Visit Duron on the Web (

Breathing Easier

"Working around patients -- especially those with allergies or respiratory difficulties who might be bothered by paint fumes -- makes my job a constant challenge. With odor-free paint, we can paint in rooms or hallways adjoining occupied rooms and not worry about patients and a staff complaining about odor-One time an individual who was highly allergic passed by and said she wished she had known I was going to be painting there. Not positive, but confident that the paint would not aggravate her condition, I assured her that if the odor was bothersome to let me know, She never complained." -- Jay Stahler, paint shop supervisor, PinnacleHealth Hospitals, Harrisburg, PA
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Title Annotation:paints
Author:Merrill, Gene
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2000
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