All Paints Are Coatings, But Not All Coatings Are Paints

The American Coatings Association defines paint as “the group of emulsions generally consisting of pigments suspended in a liquid medium for use as decorative or protective coatings”. From the time of the Industrial Revolution, when standardized paint manufacturers began evolving into a professional industry, up to now in the 21st century, scientists, engineers, environmental groups, manufacturers and entrepreneurs have been steadily working to improve the beauty, quality and serviceability of these amazing products.

With each generation, the goal has been to improve the ability of the paints and coatings to not only beautify the surfaces they’re applied to, but to better protect the surfaces from environmental exposure, corrosion, and human use.  Additionally, a tremendous amount of time and energy has gone into improving the safety of the numerous compounds used, such as the removal of lead in the late 1970’s, to the production of low- and zero-VOC products in the mid-1990s.

In addition to enhancing the appearance and value of homes, office buildings, retail spaces, commercial and other public buildings, the paint and coatings industry has also become a major player in Green building. To learn more about how the Paint & Coatings Industry has proactively addressed environmental issues Click Here.

What you may or may not know about paint.

The primary carrier or base material can be oil, or water, or solvent, or other.  Generally, for residential and commercial applications, most people are familiar with the use of latex paint. More people are becoming familiar with elastomeric paint, the next generation to latex. The elastomeric has greater elasticity, is more durable and holds pigment better.

Over the years the sub categories for paint have grown exponentially. As the variety of coating challenges have increased over the years, the paint and coatings industry has evolved to provide better solutions.  Today’s paints have been formulated to perform common challenges, such as resisting mold and mildew, increasing durability and scrubaility, to creating harder finishes for cabinets and trim. Additionally, paints and coatings have seen great improvement in adhesion and protection from corrosion when applied to metals, concrete, brick, etc.  With regard to climate change and a need to improve the building envelope for more responsible, efficient energy consumption, great strides have been taken to develop green building features such as heat-reflective barriers around your home or building.


What are Intelligent Coatings?

Intelligent coatings are products that can be applied using the same tools and methods as paint, to provide the consumer with a specific solution.  This can be as simple as applying paint for a color change, or as specialized as applying a coating of heat and UV reflective protection to reduce energy usage and increase comfort.

For example: Most realtors will agree when putting a house on the market for sale, one of the easiest ways for the homeowner to maximize the selling price is to apply a fresh coat of paint. This not only helps the home sell faster, but most homeowners will receive 100% return on investment.  In this instance, using a “good” paint will normally be the best, most cost-effective solution.


However, in the case of new homeowners moving into the house of their dreams, they may want to look more long-term at protecting the exterior from the elements, as well as, consider what options are available to reduce energy usage and improve the building envelope.  There are a number of products available ranging in price, according to the designed purpose, that will achieve this goal.

Since the 1960’s, paint and coatings manufacturers have striven to improve a building’s ability to maintain a more consistent temperature, alleviating the need to constantly cool (or heat) the building through energy consumption.  Part of that challenge is reflecting the direct sunlight and UV rays that create the heat built up during the day in the spaces behind or beneath the surface.  Again, thanks to perseverance, re-calculations, and thorough testing, several coatings manufacturers have formulated and developed elastomeric products that are durable, heat-reflective and can be tinted in a variety of colors, the same as paint.

Many of these elastomeric coatings contain nanotechnology in the form of microscopic ceramic hollow spheres in a variety of sizes. These spheres, when applied to a surface, settle into a pattern to create a fortified barrier that reflects the heat and UV rays from the outside.  Today, we have coatings designed for walls, roofs and even translucent coatings for glass and plastic skylights.

Some of the greatest advances in superior coatings have been made for roofing needs.  These improved materials provide even better long-lasting protection and greater reduction of heat on the exterior surface and the space beneath.  Depending on the type of roof, the coatings are formulated with rubber-, silicon- or elastomeric-base properties.  Rubber-based coatings are often found on flat roofs that may experience water ponding. These form excellent protection from moisture, increase durability, and contain reflective properties. Silicon based products also offer excellent moisture protection.


The mission of Intelligent Coatings Professionals is to diligently seek out those paint and coatings manufacturers leading the pack with advanced scientifically designed formulas that have been thoroughly tested and approved by the proper accrediting agencies. We seek to share and promote this information with consumers looking to find better ways to reduce their energy consumption in a sustainable green manner.  In doing so, it’s a win-win for the consumer, for the manufacturer, for us, and for the planet.