Bridging the crack: paint technology reaches new heights

The growth of healthcare and residential projects has placed new demands on paint manufacturers. Christopher Sell profiles some of the recent innovations in the sector.

COMMENT, Materials

A more mature and discerning customer has forced key players in the Middle East paint and coatings sector to develop innovative products as a means to capitalise on the broadening market, which has led to some companies enjoying strong financial returns.

These new products, which offer a range of benefits over conventional goods, have been developed to ensure the increasingly complex demands of the UAE market - which spans healthcare, residential and commercial development - are met.


It is capable of reducing the temperature indoors by two to three degrees.

One such company, ICI Dulux, illustrates this growing diversity with the recent launch of products in the UAE that fight harmful bacteria. Sterishield is a new water-based coating designed to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria on walls and ceilings, and is clearly targeting the healthcare and hospitality sector, both of which are burgeoning areas in Dubai.

"We have seen in the UK and other parts of Europe that the MRSA superbug is a serious threat to health. Globally, the spread of harmful bacteria is a major concern for all hospitals and clinical institutes," says Philip Mathew, general manager, Al Gurg Leighs Paints (AGLP).

Sterishield is a new paint, developed to promote a more hygienic environment. Its effectiveness lies in its active silver-based bactericide formula that combines with the durable and washable nature of the paint film.

Launched last year in Europe, Sterishield has been independently tested in real-life conditions created to assess its impact on harmful bacteria such as MRSA, E.coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In all cases Sterishield demonstrated a dramatic rate of decline in bacteria population compared to standard paint.

Independent laboratory tests in the UK revealed that after 12 hours, 99% of bacteria are eliminated on contact with Sterishield, compared to regular paint. After 24 hours, bacteria are still detectable on standard paint, but not on Sterishield. Furthermore, the coating is notified under the Biocidal Products Directive for the Product Type 2 standard and is designed especially to prevent bacteria-related problems, while assuring durability and a good finish.

Suitable for both interior and exterior use - it can also be applied to concrete, plaster and wood - customers can also choose and create their own colour shading for the coating using Dulux's tinting system.

One of the other leading players in the market, Jotun Paints has developed and produced two new innovative and unique products; Lady and Jotunshield Thermo. According to Eirik Kristensen, regional marketing manager, Jotun Middle East, Lady is said to be the best interior paint in the market, which does not smell after painting, is very easy to clean and comes in thousands of colours that last year after year. This innovation is the result of three years of surveys and preparations by Jotun in the region. Lady is the first product which targets ladies' specific requirements when it comes to interior paints.

"We can clearly see that ladies are the triggers when it comes to design and home décor, and they are looking for a paint that does not smell after painting, which is easy to wipe clean and has colour which lasts, especially after cleaning," says Kristensen.

Coatings technology is also being developed to assist the longevity of buildings, enabling them to cope with the extreme meteorological conditions experienced in the Middle East. Jotun's other unique technology Jotunshield Thermo, is an exterior paint that will reduce energy consumption in a house by reflecting the heat, and prevent humidity from penetrating the building.

"This reduces fungus and other harmful properties that attack the surface and also helps reduce the air conditioning bill," adds Kristensen.

Jotunshield Thermo is a pure acrylic exterior coating for concrete, cement and plaster and is specifically formulated to provide thermal insulation with a choice of 95 colours. By deflecting sunlight, it reduces the heat absorbed by walls. It reduces the heat indoors, so less energy is required to cool a home or building.

"In comparison with conventional coatings it is capable of reducing the temperature indoors by two to three degrees depending on the thickness applied," explains Kristensen. "This in effect can contribute to a 15-20% energy saving."

In addition, it is also an effective anti-carbonation coating, which helps to protect the structure and enhance the life of the building. And being a lightweight coating, it is ideal for maintenance and for use on old buildings.

"We have carried out various tests with independent laboratories on conductivity, reflectivity, emittance, crack bridging, water and moisture vapour transmission and carbon dioxide diffusion," says Kristensen. Some projects which have used this technology in the region are the Rashid Hospital Emergency and Trauma Centre in Dubai, the Movenpick Hotel in Kuwait, 290 villas for the Dubai government, two 12-storey buildings for Ali Mukhtar Ghusais in Dubai and Khalifa City Villas in Abu Dhabi, to name just a few.

Dulux and Jotun aren't the only companies broadening their range of coatings. UK company Treatex has recently launched a range of finishes for concrete that offer first-class protection and dust-reducing properties as well as the option of enhancing surfaces through colour. Such a finish is ideal for use in situations where concrete dust may be an issue, such as car parks, garages and loading bays, as well as where architects may wish to create statement façades.

Treatex concrete finishes leave no harmful residues whilst producing a micro-porous, water repellent and fire-resistant surface. Treated surfaces are also resistant to grease, oil and most other chemicals. The protector/hardener penetrates deeply into the surface, increasing the hardness by 34%. Furthermore, the concrete finishes also significantly reduces potentially harmful concrete dust which can cause problems in enclosed areas, and those surfaces that are in regular use. In addition, a range of colours can be used to enhance the surface, and when used outdoors in conjunction with Treatex's concrete base and concrete emulsion, UV resistance is increased.

Such is the buoyancy of the UAE market, Dulux recorded Middle East sales of US $71 million (AED260 million) in 2006, representing an increase of 35% over 2005. According to the company, the bulk of this growth was generated by the decorative and architectural coatings market, which comprised 91% of Dulux Paints' global turnover of $4.8 billion. And with several new projects being launched and freehold ownership gaining momentum, Dulux's Middle East sales are estimated to reach $204 million by 2012.

ICI Paints managing director, Tony Myers, says: "The decorative paints market in the UAE is evolving at a rapid pace. Dubai's booming hospitality, healthcare and real estate sectors have prompted the need for higher quality and durable finishes in hospitals, restaurants and affluent homes."

Ashish Chaturvedy, manager, marketing and business development, AGLP, says: "We are seeing growing regional demand for quality products and services which are safe and environmentally sound. The launch of innovative products like Royal Touch and Sterishield in the UAE addresses this demand."

Royal Touch is premium washable emulsion, and the first of its kind in the region, offering a luxurious sheen and high durability for internal wall surfaces. Available in more than 20,000 shades, the product offers high stain resistance with anti-bacterial, flame-retardant and crack-bridging properties.

Whatever the future holds for Dubai's fast evolving market, it is clear that for those firms who are willing to innovate and invest in technologically advanced products will thrive. The rest will simply fade away.

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