Decorative coating guide Canada

Decorative coating to make the world beautiful

From the white lead wall paint to the groovy colours of the swinging sixties, we love to decorate. On a grey gloomy morning there is nothing quite like a splash of colour to lift the spirits. As a result, more than 42% of the Canadian paint market value is due to decorative coating, and over 56% of the total coating volume is architectural coatings. DIY-ers, homeowners looking to spruce up a living room, new housing initiatives, and housing developers have all contributed to the improving market – nearly a half of all paints in the decorative coating sector are emulsion paints applied to walls and ceilings.

In this article we will discuss the many different varieties of decorative coating, and all the ways it can be used to liven up and protect a wall, door, window, space, building, and more. We will look at the available products and colours, and their effect on environments such as hospitals, as well as where to find these products in Canada.

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The difference between interior and exterior decorative coatings

It may seem like paint is paint, and surely it doesn’t matter whether you use it outside or inside. While this might have been true a couple of decades ago, developments in coating technology mean that today the differences between exterior and interior coatings are far more pronounced. The solvents used for both are either water- or oil-based, and the differences lie in the pigments, resins, and additives that provide these paints with the qualities needed to work their best.

Interior decorative paints

For an interior paint, the ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions is not important. What they do need, however, is low VOCs and abrasion resistance. The resins are more rigid than those in exterior paints so the paint is less prone to damage – helpful when it comes to scrubbing and cleaning. There is also less risk of fading from exposure to UV radiation, so more organic pigments can be used. Because of the desire for low VOCs and low odour formulations, the majority of interior paints are water-based.

Exterior decorative paints

An exterior paint is exposed to all the damaging elements the world can throw at it. Rain, temperature variation, and most importantly UV radiation are all conditions the paint will need to withstand. Because of this, exterior paints are formulated to deal with harsh conditions without peeling, fading, chalking, or blistering. They avoid pigments known to fade or contain higher quantities of pigment, have more elastic resins to flex with expanding and shrinking substrates, and many contain anti-mildew additives.

Choose the decorative coating finish that suits the purpose

Matte, satin, eggshell… what exactly a paint will look like and how best to use it are sometimes not clear. Though there are several steps to paint application, decorative coating is all about the finish. Exterior and interior paints both have a range of finishes available, each with different sheens and uses:

  • Flat and Matte: These paints have the lowest levels of glossiness of all the finishes available, at roughly 0-10% sheen. This means they are non-reflective and will hide surface blemishes and inconsistencies, effectively smoothing the surfaces on which they are painted. These are mostly used for walls, and have a smooth and velvety appearance.
  • Semi- and high gloss: The most reflective of the decorative paints, these are traditionally used for skirting boards, doors, mouldings, window, and other trim. It is also the toughest finish. Due to their high levels of sheen, gloss finishes show up imperfections, so it is important to prepare the substrate beforehand.
  • Eggshell and satin: These are the “mid-sheen” finishes. They have some reflectivity (satin is slightly glossier than eggshell, which looks like its namesake), and are more durable than the flat and matte finishes. Because of this, they are often used in more demanding spaces like kitchens and bathrooms, and satin is often used for doors and trim.

Decorative coating colours in action

Everyone has seen decorative coating used poorly. A glum hallway, a foreboding building, too much yellow, all of these can be fixed by a proper understanding of decorative paint and how to use it. The right coating can promote an atmosphere perfectly suited to the space, from calm to industrious. Industries from education to retail are subtly influencing us with their use of decorative coating. The psychological response to colour is well documented, and used in different ways:

man applying blue interior wall paint

Blue is the colour associated with calmness and therefore, the most common decorative coating colour in healthcare buildings.

  1. Education: Schools and universities aim at providing a pleasant and encouraging learning environment. Overstimulation through too much bright colouring – especially in primary schools –  can lead to distraction and inattentiveness. Neutrals with spots of colour strike the right balance.
  2. Offices and reception areas: A reception area needs to invite, welcome, and interest a visitor. Avoid natural tones and choose warm, soft colours. An office needs to be a space in which a worker can be productive and happy. A doctor’s office requires soothing colours to calm patients, where cubicle workers need stimulating colours to boost alertness – though not too stimulating, bright reds for example can also increase stress levels.
  3. Healthcare: In the healthcare sector, decorative paint contributes to the mood and possibly even wellbeing of patients. The goal is to make them feel comfortable and at ease. Blue is often used in healthcare settings because it is a colour which promotes calmness and serenity, a symbol of rest.

Architectural coating – beyond decoration

Decorative coating, or decorative paint, comes under the broader category of architectural coatings. Architectural coatings are those which are intended for application to stationary structures such as buildings, homes, decks, sheds, and pavements in interior and exterior settings. They provide decoration, protection, and durability to a substrate. An architectural coating is intended for on-site application to residential, commercial, institutional, or industrial buildings, and differs from industrial coatings because it is defined by its aesthetic, rather than its protective properties. Though an industrial coating may be decorative, it is its protective ability that defines it. However, there are architectural coatings that are also protective:

Decorative paint brands and suppliers in Canada

With such a healthy industry, it can be no surprise that Canada is full of hardware stores and decorative coating companies.  Companies like AkzoNobel, Behr, Farrow & Ball, PPG, and Benjamin Moore all provide their range of decorative paints for the Canadian market. 

If you have a project and require decorative paint, our experts are here to help. Take advantage of our 100% quote service by clicking on the “Request a Quote” below the article, and let us connect you with a coating solution for your project. We, in collaboration with our coating partners, can help you find the coating you need.

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