6 Most Innovative Paint Technologies

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Painting the interior or exterior of a home keeps getting easier, and paint quality keeps improving. Check out these six new paint technologies.

Interior and exterior house paint might not seem like it’s changed drastically in the last 20 years or so. Ashley Kloehn, manager of Hirshfield’s Uptown, a long-established paint and coatings store in Minneapolis, Minnesota, confirms that’s the case.

However, says Kloehn, subtle changes are making a significant difference for consumers. “The long-term performance they expect is far from where it was even 10 years ago,” he says. Incremental technological advances in paint chemistry have changed the way we paint.

We asked Kloehn and other paint experts to discuss the most innovative paint technologies out there today. Here’s what they say.

Sheen and Scrubbability

“The sheen of a paint has always been one of the big characteristics that predicts how it will resist moisture and how washable it will be after applied,” says Kloehn. Basically, shinier paint equals more washable paint, even if not everyone likes a shiny surface.

But Kloehn says an increase in 100 percent acrylic resins, colorfast technology (like Benjamin Moore’s Color Lock) and durability additives have allowed consumers to turn down the shine.

“People are moving to lower sheens once they’re convinced the lessor sheen can meet their performance needs,” he says. “These changes in paint have positively affected their durability, washability and resistance to mold since they repel moisture.”

Greener, Faster Drying Paint

The paint and coatings industry is changing formulas to reduce the chemicals released into the atmosphere when products are applied. That’s especially true of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), says Kloehn. “VOCs have been part of paint for a very long time,” he says. Removing them not only makes paint safer and less odorous, but also lets it dry faster.

But VOCs aren’t the whole story. “Customers should look for any changes in formulation that replace VOCs with other compounds that are also not user- or environmentally friendly,” Kloehn says. He cites ammonia as a common substitute for VOCs.

One Coat Wonders

Innovations in water-based (latex or acrylic) paints permitted the development of true one-coat paints. These thick, combination paint-and-primer products are major step-savers. Virtually every major paint manufacturer makes a version.

The Home Depot sells five one-coat brands, including Behr Dynasty Interior Paint & Primer, described by Behr spokesperson Ericka Cruz as its “most durable, most stain repellent, scuff resistant, one-coat hide paint, ever.”

And fewer coats aren’t the only pluses. Besides its scuff and stain resistance, Cruz says the Dynasty line features a tack-free film that reduces downtime between application and use. “This allows homes to return to ‘business as usual’ faster after a paint project,” she says.

Clearing the Air

Anyone who has ever painted an interior room deals with at least a little chemical odor, while applying the paint and in the hours and days after. But new technologies, such as Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint with Air Purifying Technology and SuperPaint with Sanitizing Technology, claim to actually reduce indoor odors and improve air quality.

Rick Watson, director of product information and technical services at Sherwin-Williams, says the Air-Purifying Technology version contains “special odor-reducing compounds [that] deconstruct odor molecules that come in contact with the painted surface, neutralizing and dissipating odors.” This new feature makes the paint especially suited for the kitchen and bathrooms.

The Sanitizing Technology product, Watson says, “helps keep walls sanitized 24/7 by delivering ongoing antibacterial action that kills 99.9 percent of certain bacteria on painted surfaces and remains effective for up to four years.”

Self-Cleaning Paint

Yes, you read that right. In the last few years, a few companies introduced self-cleaning exterior paints to the consumer market.

What does self-cleaning paint actually do? It creates a waterproof barrier so when hit with water, from rain or a hose, the water runs down the surface and takes dirt with it. Sherwin-Williams Emerald Rain Refresh is one such product. Watson says it “offers excellent application, flow and leveling, and weather protection,” and can be tinted with compatible Sherwin-Williams paint colors.

Color Matching Apps

Paint chips, make way for the digital future. Paint-matching apps have been around for a few years, allowing consumers to “try out” paint colors by taking a photo of the room they want to paint and virtually applying the color in the app. But a partnership between ColorReader and Samplize takes things one step further, offering an actual paint sample on your wall.

Use the ColorReader app to match any color you like. Whether it’s from a 1980 architectural magazine or your Grandma’s prized China collection, the app will find the closest color on the current retail market.

With Samplize, you can order a peel-and-stick paint sample of that color (as long as it’s a brand available through Samplize) and try it out on your wall before you commit to buying paint. It’s a neat idea, one that can result in fewer trips to the home store and fewer cans of “oops” paint in the wrong color.

Elizabeth Heath
Elizabeth Heath is a travel, culinary and lifestyle writer based in rural Umbria, Italy. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, HuffPost, Frommers.com, TripSavvy and many other publications. Her guidebook, An Architecture Lover's Guide to Rome, was released in 2019. Liz's husband is a stonemason and together they are passionate about the great outdoors, endless home improvement projects, dogs, their unruly garden and their slightly less unruly 8-year-old.