The market for exterior architectural coatings continues to feel the affects of the sluggish economy, but there have been some bright spots. An increase in new housing construction and an uptick in housing sales has given exterior architectural coatings manufacturers reason for optimism.
“The market continues to be depressed, on par with 2011,” said Monte Lewis, vice president of sales at Dunn-Edwards. “However, certain segments of the market have improved versus prior year. New housing construction is one - though the improvement is modest and is versus a reality of almost 10% of pre-cash highs. Most other segments have continued to be under pressure from new commercial construction to residential repaint and commercial repaint.”
According to Lewis, the real question is when it will improve. “The pace of new housing construction has begun to accelerate,” he continued. “But until home sales - a key driver in the residential repaint market - and overall consumer sentiment improve significantly, the segment, which is large and one of the more profitable, will continue flat.”
“We have been quite fortunate as to experience growth over the past few years despite the lessened economic conditions,” said Dan Cohen of California Paints. “There is still a strong demand for higher quality exterior products. Our consistently rated number one exterior house paint Fres~Coat continues trend ahead of expectations. The housing number numbers are starting to trend in a positive direction and that will be the impetus for stronger architectural sales in both the new construction and redo markets.”
As many parts of the global economy continue to improve, demand for finished building products has also expanded. “Many building materials are production finished before being used on the job site – including doors, windows, siding, molding, fascia – with primer, paint or both depending on the type of material and end-use,” said Kristin McNamara, director, brand communications, Sherwin-Williams Product Finishes Division. “As construction starts improve, homeowners looks to remodel their existing structures and movement within the rental market continues, demand for exterior finishes used in production has been positive in many regions of the world. We anticipate a continued upward trend in the demand for exterior building products and the coatings used to finish them.”
Benjamin Moore concentrates its business in North America. “Although our manufacturing can be affected by the global economy and fluctuation with raw material prices, our business potential is directly affected by the North America economy and the housing market,” said Jeff Spillane, senior product manager at Benjamin Moore. “We are experiencing an improvement in our architectural, stain and industrial coatings business. We have seen a slow but steady uptick in housing sales, resulting in an increased demand for exterior paints and stains. This can also be attributed to increasing consumer confidence and their decision to spend to protect, maintain and improve their largest single investment, their home. We expect that the increases we are experiencing now will continue to improve. Store traffic is on the rise with both the DIY customer and professional painting contractors.”
One area that presents good opportunity for exterior architectural coatings manufactures is the “Green Building” movement. Coatings manufacturers have developed sustainable product lines to meet LEED and other green building requirements.
Sherwin-Williams offers a number of products to meet the needs of the Green Building movement. “In addition to our strong line-up of end-use architectural coatings, we also have a number of production finishes for exterior building products that are environmentally-preferable,” said McNamara. “We offer a a wide range of water-based Kem Aqua finishes for exterior use, as well as Polane polyurethane coatings that are HAPs-free and lower VOC.”
Sherwin-Williams recently launched Kem Aqua BP Siding Plus, a one component, low VOC, water reducible enamel topcoat designed for OEM application to various substrates for exterior building products. It can be used on CPVC, wood, fiberglass pultrusions, fibercement and paper overlayed OSB, and also can be formulated with solar reflective pigment technology to help protect heat sensitive substrates.
“Sherwin-Williams developed the GreenSure designation for our products that offer maximum performance, long-term durability and were designed and manufactured taking steps to reduce environmental impact and to meet or exceed the most stringent regulatory requirements,” said Mike Conway, director corporate communications, The Sherwin-Williams Company. “Sherwin-Williams also offers a variety of products that are Greengaurd Indoor Air Quality Certified and GreenGuard certified for Children and Schools. These products have been tested according to rigid Greengaurd Certification standards and were found to have minimal impact on indoor air quality. Sherwin-Williams was awarded the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for an innovative paint formulation that utilizes soybean oil and recycled plastic bottles (PET).”
In July, Sherwin-Williams introduced Emerald Interior and Exterior paints, premium coatings that delivers durability and are backed by a lifetime warranty. “Emerald paints are tinted with our new ColorCast Ecotoner colorants, which do not increase the VOC content of paints when added,” said Conway. “This revolutionary tinting system maintains the paint’s full body after tinting, delivering thick, rich coats for maximum performance. We also launched Loxon XP Zero VOC masonry coating, which protects against wind-driven rain, alkali and efflorescence like no other masonry coating on the market. It is a direct-to-concrete and masonry high-build coating that offers maximum performance in one less coat, with no need for priming.”
Dunn-Edwards offers a number of products and services to meet the needs of the Green Building movement. “In 2010, we became the first paint company to label products with RAVOC values - Reactivity-Adjusted VOC Content, which is a better way to measure the potential air quality impacts of coatings,” said Tim Bosveld, vice president of marketing at Dunn-Edwards. “In 2012, we opened the world’s first LEED Gold-certified paint manufacturing facility, located in Phoenix, Arizona. Encompassing manufacturing, product development, quality control laboratories, a distribution center, retail outlet and office space, this 336,00-square foot facility was custom designed to be the greenest in the coatings industry."
This year Dunn-Edwards launched zero VOC colorants in Northern California. "Zero-VOC paints are made with no added VOC, but when tinted with conventional colorants, VOC is added,” said Bosveld. “Only with zero-VOC colorants can tinted paint be truly zero-VOC. Our color lab worked with our colorant supplier in developing zero-VOC colorants to make our paints greener, and to comply way ahead of future regulatory limits on VOC in colorants used for tinting paint. Now we can offer low odor, more environmentally-friendly paints in any color, while maintaining high performance and lower overall VOC s in all or our tinted water-based products.”
In 2012 California Paints’ Storm Stain Exterior Stains became a new division called Storm Systems. “This exterior stain and finish offering is now being distributed nationally,” said Cohen. “We have a few new niche products: Skid Grip, an anti-slip coatings; Grip Coat, a urethane modified bonding primer and NexTech low VOC alkyd dispersion enamels. We are preparing to launch a new premium performing DTM called Novus.”
A large portion of the Benjamin Moore portfolio address the Green Building movement and its growth. “We were the first company to introduce a zero-VOC resin-based colorant system, which means when you tint a Benjamin Moore product at retail the colorant does not add VOCs to the paint,” said Spillane. “Our Green Promise designation is an indication that those Benjamin Moore products have been third party tested and meet or exceed the industry's most stringent environmental standards.”
Benjamin Moore recently launched a number of new products. “Ultra Spec 500 and Ultra Spec Exterior are part of a complete line of premium commercial products offering a wide variety of sheen for both interior and exterior products,” said Spillane. “Also released in 2012 are two new specialty coatings. Grand Entrance is a special water reducible alkyd available in satin and a true high gloss for interior and exterior doors and trim. Molten Metallic is a special effect paint that creates the look of a hammered metal finish.