A critical view of façade coatings

14th of April 2021
A critical view of façade coatings

Dutch correspondent John Griep examines the claims made by façade coating manufacturers.

For cleaning companies, applying façade coatings provides an extra opportunity in their service offering. This is why more and more commercial façade coating offerings are available, with and without nanoclaim.

Do these coatings work in the way they say? Do manufacturers of coatings with nanotechnology take sufficient account of the health risks? And do they give the right information in the safety information sheet?

As a cleaning company, knowledge of façade coatings is important if they are offering the service. And they must be aware of any potential health and safety risks.

This was why VSR and Schoonmakend Nederland asked the Dutch Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) to carry out a study into the effect and safety of coatings.

TNO selected two functionalities for the study to concentrate on: 1. making faded aluminium façade components look newer again (coating) and 2. making stone façades water-resistant (impregnation).

In the two cases, the façades were artificially expose to heat, atmospheric humidity and simulated rain. In summary, almost all the products - with and without nanoclaim - withstood the quality tests. One of the coatings with nano did need a second application (resulting in higher costs).

A critical point were the coatings with coating particles of particular nano dimensions, on which suppliers turned out not to be able to provide any further information. Why is this a critical point? Particles with nano dimensions (1-100 nanometres) may be a significantly higher risk for people and the surrounding area than particles of the same substances that are larger or smaller. When they are breathed in, for example. Such particles, which do not degrade easily, can be harmful to the environment.

This is why European regulations have stipulated since January 2020 that suppliers are required to list these nano ingredients on the safety information sheet, including the relevant exposure and toxicity data. It is notable no further information was given for any of the coatings with nanoclaim investigated on the presence of the nano particles claimed. The consequence is that users are unaware of the risks and so cannot classify them, meaning their use must be discouraged according to TNO.

A solution is that suppliers of coatings containing particles in nano dimensions start supplying the relevant information needed to be able to classify the product into a danger class. At the same time, suppliers of coatings with nanoclaim, which do not contain particles in nano dimensions, must also start to mention this. A hallmark may help cleaning companies and their clients to recognise quality.

Does your service include façade coating? A few tips:

• Establish whether it involves aesthetic maintenance or technical maintenance
• Does a coating change the façade’s functionality? Communicate about this with the client • Specify in advance how the coating will be applied
• Where possible, set up a sample piece to manage expectations
• Make a risk analysis based on the safety information sheets for the coatings and check whether these meet the national and European regulations
• Ask critical questions of the supplier about the risks.


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