What Coating is Best for My Commercial Building?

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Maintaining a commercial building can be demanding and complex. Business owners may find it time-consuming to navigate the world of industrial paint, finishes, and coatings. However, a basic understanding of your options will make it easier to plan necessary maintenance projects. While you’ll need an experienced painter to give you the best recommendation for your unique building, you can review the most common coatings for commercial buildings below. 

Commonly Used Paints

The most common surface coating is paint; a working knowledge of the qualities and features of different paints will help choose the best coating for your environment.

Primers are a common first coat for surfaces. Priming helps prepare the surface for paint, increasing surface protection, adhesion, and paint durability. Primers can be used to protect surfaces from things like rust, mold, or water. This can be particularly useful in industrial settings where open warehouses let a lot of moisture into buildings. Professional painters will have the experience to recommend the right kind of primer for your project to prevent future chipping or peeling.

Acrylic paints are some of the most common coatings for exteriors and commercial buildings due to their durability and water-resistance. These paints come in multiple finishes like gloss, semi-gloss or eggshell. They can be applied easily with brushes or rollers, and dry relatively quickly. However, this chemical-based option does require good ventilation when used indoors. Acrylic paints are recommended for exterior walls or other places where excessive moisture exposure is expected.

Latex paints are commonly used for interior or home painting and tend to be less expensive than acrylic paint. Latex paint is water-based and can easily be cleaned up with just soap and water. Compared to acrylic paints, latex paints usually require fewer coats and tend to dry more quickly.

Enamel paints are most often used for vehicles but building owners can utilize them for painting and protecting metal and wood surfaces. These paints are designed to be durable, hard, and glossy; they will hold up well in high-use places.

Specialty Paints

There are several new specialty paints on the market that are trending for commercial spaces.

For offices or educational settings, there is a new whiteboard paint that can turn any surface into a whiteboard. This paint transforms a wall so that it can be written on with a dry-erase marker and then erased away without residue. This paint can be more economical than purchasing multiple dry erase boards and allows for larger whiteboards for big projects.

For exterior walls, Sherwin Williams has created an anti-graffiti coating. This coating creates a non-stick surface that repels graffiti from spray-paint and permanent markers. It requires only simple pressure washing or hand-wiping to remove graffiti and can withstand repeated abuse.

For buildings in sunny, hot areas, cool roof coatings may be useful. These paints are designed to reflect sunlight from a roof to help keep the building cooler. These are particularly recommended for flat roofed buildings that are common in commercial settings.

Another exciting new technology is anti-pathogenic coatings, which are designed to combat three common problems.  Antimicrobial coatings are designed to disrupt organisms like mold, mildew or bacteria that can damage substrates or cause disease. Antibacterial coatings inhibit the growth process of bacteria. Lastly, the development of microbicidal coatings target disease causing pathogens, destroying them within a few hours of contact to prevent the spread of infections. Sherwin Williams has already released a microbicidal coating called Paint Shield, and other companies are also working on releasing similar products. 

Commercial floors need the right coating to protect against traffic

Epoxy and Urethane

Floors are a surface that can see a lot of wear and tear.  Commercial buildings such as warehouses, factories or garages utilize heavy machinery, causing substantial wear that requires industrial-grade floor coatings that will hold up over time. Epoxy and urethane coatings are generally good choices in these settings as they resist chemicals well and dry very hard.

Floors in buildings such as restaurants and hospitals will need a coating that will not only withstand heavy foot traffic, but also hold up under the chemicals used in frequent cleanings. For these floors, a Pre-Catalyzed Water Based Epoxy would offer extreme protection against chemicals used for cleaning and degreasing.


A varnish is a type of clear finish that is often used on woods. These are usually not pigmented but designed to allow the natural characteristics of the wood to show while adding a layer of protection. Varnishes are common coating on cupboards, furniture or other surfaces where the natural wood can be featured.

Finding just the right coating to use on a surface requires knowledge and experience. At Streamline Painting and More, we have over 25 years of combined experience in the commercial, residential and service industries and want to help your business thrive. Contact us if you have any questions about what coatings would be best to use in your commercial building.

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Kyle Caywood

Owner of Streamline Painting

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