Based on coating technology that has been an architectural industry standard for more than five decades, high-performance, water-based coatings made with Kynar Aquatec® resin extend the lifetime of commercial buildings in an environmentally friendly way.

Replacing building facade materials can be a costly, time-consuming, and disruptive endeavor. Fortunately building owners and project specifiers now have a more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable way to extend the life of building exteriors with less disruption to tenants and activities than completely replacing facade materials. To realize how, it is important to understand the history behind the coating technology that has been trusted by the architectural community for decades.

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610 Newport Beach, winner of the 2020 Metal Architecture Design Award in the Renovations and Retrofit category,
used W-1650 Bonding Primer and a custom metallic NeverFade Metal Topcoat on its anodized aluminum surface. Photo courtesy of APV Engineered Coatings

The Beginnings of High-Performance Coatings

In 1965 Arkema, Inc. introduced Kynar 500® PVDF resin-based architectural finishes to the market, and over the next 30 years they became the coating of choice for architectural firms worldwide. However, they are solvent-based, with high VOC content, and, because Kynar 500 emulsion-based finishes must be baked at over 400°F, they can only be applied in a factory to metal coil and extrusion substrates. These factors limited their ability to be used on other OEM building products that could not withstand the temperature—such as wood, vinyl, and fiberglass—and also did not allow for field-applied use.

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Solano Community College Vallejo Center, in San Pablo Bay, California, used NeverFade coatings to keep the building bright blue. Photo courtesy of APV Engineered Coatings

Kynar Aquatec: The Next Generation of PVDF Coatings

In 2001 Arkema addressed these initial limitations and began to develop a novel emulsion technology that became Kynar Aquatec®, a new PVDF coating.

The original goals of the program were to develop a resin that could be incorporated into a coating that could air-dry with long-term weathering performance similar to a Kynar 500 finish system but in a water-based formulation that required no baking and would film-form at ambient temperatures.

These objectives and the ensuing technical development work led to the 2005 commercialization of the first Kynar Aquatec grade called Kynar Aquatec ARC. This tough, engineered, and inherently UV-resistant thermoplastic resin found its earliest uses in coatings used in metal restoration projects and OEM building products. In 2009, Arkema launched Kynar Aquatec FMA12 for coatings used on cementitious and other substrates where breathability and/or greater elastic properties were needed. Arkema’s most recent offering in the Kynar Aquatec line is called Kynar Aquatec CRX. This resin was developed for applications requiring greater hardness, abrasion resistance, and chemical resistance since it can be cross-linked with a second component.

Today Kynar Aquatec has become an innovative platform of emulsions used by paint formulators, such as APV Engineered Coatings (Arkema’s first licensee), to make premium, low-VOC, weather-resistant, water-based coatings. Coatings formulated with these emulsions can provide the durability and performance of traditional factory-applied Kynar 500 based coatings. Coatings formulated with Kynar Aquatec can be applied in the field to a variety of substrates, including metals, plastics, wood, concrete, stucco, EIFS, and previously painted surfaces. Kynar Aquatec resin is also manufactured through an innovative and patented process that uses no PFAS surfactants or any other fluorosurfactants in its ingredients or manufacturing process.

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This Goodyear blimp used a custom primer and Goodyear Yellow and Blue colors of NeverFade Custom Topcoat so that it was recognizable from the sky. Photo courtesy of APV Engineered Coatings

Highly Resistant to Film Erosion

One of the primary purposes of exterior architectural coatings is to protect a building’s substrate from weathering. A key indicator of this protection is maintenance of the original film thickness. Figure 2 demonstrates a Kynar Aquatec-based coating’s ability to resist film erosion after outdoor exposure compared with an acrylic-based coating. Both formulations shown utilize cobalt blue pigment, which is not affected by ultraviolet light and does not block UV from penetrating the coating surface. Therefore, any degradation of the coating from weathering is related to the resin binder system only. After seven years of exposure in South Florida at 45-degree angle facing south, the metal panel is completely showing through the 100% acrylic-based coating, which demonstrates erosion and nearly complete degradation of the coating. The Kynar Aquatec-based coating is still intact with minimal color fade and no film erosion.

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Figure 2

Quality Control through Licensing

To ensure that final coatings made with Kynar resins meet Arkema’s quality and performance requirements, the company established a licensee program for its Kynar Aquatec family of water-based PVDF resins. Manufacturer and specialty coatings formulator APV Engineered Coatings became an Arkema licensee in 2009 for its line of NeverFade® Facade Restoration Coatings, which has since been used on hundreds of architectural projects and structures worldwide.

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The Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options (JAFCO) center in Sunrise, Florida, maintains its playful facade thanks to NeverFade. Photo courtesy of APV Engineered Coatings

NeverFade® Façade Restoration Coatings Save Time and Money

NeverFade is a line of water based, low-VOC facade restoration coating systems that provide the durability of factory finish in a field-applied product. Its quality ingredients and unique ingenuity provide a 30-year life cycle, unlike any other coating on the market. In addition to Kynar Aquatec PVDF resin, NeverFade coatings contain complex inorganic pigments, as well as additional UV-blocking and mold-inhibiting additives for long-lasting durability and color retention. The unique chemistry will not chalk and erode and resists dirt and mold growth.

The NeverFade Facade Restoration Coating System includes topcoats and compatible primers. NeverFade Original Topcoat is ideal for concrete, stucco, masonry, EIFS, fiber cement, composite materials, and vinyl building exteriors. NeverFade Metal Restoration Topcoat is formulated for use on ferrous and non-ferrous metal surfaces. NeverFade 2K Performance Topcoat is used in more demanding applications requiring greater chemical resistance, hardness and abrasion resistance.

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The Westin Tampa Waterside used NeverFade on both the structure’s masonry and aluminum window frames. Photo courtesy of APV Coatings

Proven Performance, Guaranteed

NeverFade coatings provide longer-lasting color performance than premium latex/acrylic, urethanes and even FEVE exterior paint systems thanks to unique chemistry of Kynar Aquatec PVDF polymer and special UV inhibiting additives and specialty grade inorganic pigments.

The harsh Sonoran Desert Climate in Cave Creek, Arizona was no match for NeverFade, which looked like it was freshly applied nine years after its original application to the Plaza at Black Mountain. The Plaza’s brown stucco exterior had faded to light grey then washed out completely after years of weathering, leaving the stucco exposed to high temperatures and harsh UV rays. In 2010 it was coated with a custom-blended NeverFade Original Topcoat in Sahara Yellow. In October 2012, one of the tenants moved out and took down their sign, leaving the bare stucco exposed. Thanks to the long-lasting performance of NeverFade, the contractor was able to fill in the small area where the sign had been, and it was a perfect match to the rest of the elevation and building.

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This mural in Cave Creek, Arizona, uses NeverFade coatings to shield its colors from weathering and keep its longevity. Photo courtesy of APV Engineered Coatings

Another tenant had hung a banner on the east side of the exterior of his shop after the building was freshly coated in 2010. When the tenant retired in mid-2019, the banner was removed and behind it, the area protected from the sun was identical in color and appearance to the rest of the wall. You could not identify that the banner had ever been on the building—even after nine years.

APV Engineered Coatings is so confident in the long-term, fade-resistant performance of NeverFade Facade Restoration Coatings that it offers a 15-year product-and-labor guarantee. If the coating fades by a ΔE of 5 or higher, APV will replace the product and cover the labor cost of re-coating. This warranty is unique to the architectural coatings industry.

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gb&dPRO members are recognized experts in their fields and contribute opinion columns as one of their member benefits. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and may not reflect the view of gb&d. We are committed to a diversity of voices advocating for high-performing, sustainable built environment practices. We’d like to hear what you think about this article or any of our other coverage. Send us an email at [email protected].