F******n, why not is it not in every 5 gallon bucket of paint already?
September 20, 2015 1:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm a construction professional. I'm not a painter, but I frequently paint my own properties. Here's my question: there is an additive that makes every paint way, way better by eliminating brush or roller marks. I already pay good money for awesome paint because I know how much better it is than anything sold at big box stores. Why isn't paint sold with the miracle additive already in it? All the painters I work with know about it and think it's the best thing ever –– to be fair, only genuinely high-end clientele would notice, but that's my target group. (I won't disclose the name of the product because this is not an advertisement, I genuinely don't understand paint marketing vs. paint chemistry vs. paint marketing.)
posted by halogen to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (Yes, the title has been sufficiently altered to obscure the brand name. I'm not an advertiser.)
posted by halogen at 1:37 AM on September 20, 2015

Why would you obscure the name? We can provide better answers if your question isn't a secret.
posted by ryanrs at 1:51 AM on September 20, 2015 [23 favorites]

.Why isn't paint sold with the miracle additive already in it?

to be fair, only genuinely high-end clientele would notice

Well, assuming that adding the magic costs more than not adding it, isn't it completely obvious that people don't want to spend he money on it for the vast majority of clients to not notice?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:03 AM on September 20, 2015 [7 favorites]

Is it something that doesn't store well longterm when mixed with paint? Because my understanding with paint is that it's now made industrially in large colour batches and canned ahead of delivery where it gets sold to the professionals and stored for longterm use (paint buildings xyz every two years), but for the interior/non-industrial market, it's made in a base colour that's only mixed at the delivery end because the colour trends change so often. There's lots of chemical reasons an additive might not last well when mixed with a solution before storage, compared to just mixed-in.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 2:20 AM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: halogen is referring to paint conditioners like floetrol (for latex paint) or penetrol (for oil paints). They slow down drying and increase flow which has a bunch of effects. One of which is to reduce brush/roller marks since the paint flows more after you brush/roll it on.
posted by Justinian at 3:11 AM on September 20, 2015 [22 favorites]

Being able to segment the market and sell fancier things to people who care and will pay, while selling the basic product to people who wouldn't be willing to pay a premium probably makes them more money.

If they put it in everything and didn't up the price, they would lose the extra money from people paying for the premium product.

If they upped the price and put it in everything, they would lose sales from people who don't want to pay the premium price.

So they sell two versions and make more money.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:28 AM on September 20, 2015 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I think Justinian is correct. Most paints are now "low" or "zero" VOC. VOC standing for Volatile Organic Compounds. Some of the ingredients that used to help paint flow better or even prevent paint from freezing were removed to meet these new standards.
posted by ashtray elvis at 3:45 AM on September 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

I wonder whether the additive might increase the tendency for paint to run if applied too heavily, making it problematic for the amateurs that buy most of the paint.
posted by jon1270 at 3:46 AM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Without knowing the name, is it possible that the additive is patented or trade-secreted such that it is either not possible for paint companies to manufacture it themselves, or prohibitively expensive/time consuming to purchase and add to large scale batches?
posted by fermezporte at 4:12 AM on September 20, 2015

Best answer: In my experience, most professional painter/decorators would rather get the job done quickly rather than well. Those people won't want slower drying times holding things up. Most people doing DIY won't know it's an option, and may also prefer a quicker drying paint. I don't see that there's likely to be much market pressure to make it ubiquitous, and probably the opposite, to be honest.
posted by howfar at 5:25 AM on September 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

Best answer: It will be ashtray elvis's VOC reason: California and Europe have appropriate controls for VOCs, and since they are large markets, they get to say what everyone buys. These flow conditioners are essentially vinyl acrylics (latex) or solvents (gloss).
posted by scruss at 7:16 AM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

VOC reg compliance is also why Tesla cars come out of their California plant with "softer" paint than other car makes, much more susceptible to swirls from simple washing. Aftermarket paint protection solutions (e.g. Opti-Coat) are widely used by Tesla owners; they get it applied by a professional literally hours after taking delivery, before the finish gets blemished (even more than it already has).
posted by intermod at 7:49 AM on September 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

Paint chemistry is a complex field but I think the answers here touch on some possibilities. It may be that there are paints with the flow and curing characteristics you like and you just aren't upgraded enough to the top of the line. Maybe they also add mildewcides, more titanium oxide, etc. at the same time so the price jump is even greater. It may not be shelf stable. It may add to the VOC load.

The last is my suspicion. VOCs relate to the solvents and the higher solvent load slows curing. You are likely adding solvents to the paint which increase off-gassing in exchange for more forgiving working characteristics.
posted by meinvt at 7:53 AM on September 20, 2015

Floetrol makes paint dry slower (thus giving brushstrokes time to level out). It also makes the paint more likely to be drippy. I think those qualities would be seen as negative by the general population. As someone who paints pretty often, though, I agree that these products are great.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:21 AM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Many thanks to the OP for not making this look like an ad, and to Justinian for answering our curiosity.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2015

So, can I ask for this to be added to my paint when I go buy it at the store? I'd pay more for that!
posted by mccxxiii at 10:13 AM on September 20, 2015

So, can I ask for this to be added to my paint when I go buy it at the store? I'd pay more for that!

Generally no, but you can buy a bottle and stir it in yourself.
posted by jon1270 at 10:29 AM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I imagine they'd let you pour it in and run the can through the shaker if you brought the bottle to the paint counter.
posted by ryanrs at 10:38 AM on September 20, 2015

Best answer: Floetrol can be added to latex paint to increase the drying time which may reduce brush strokes when you are painting slowly. But it may also increase drips and it may reduce the dry film thickness resulting in poorer coverage and service life.

Generally, professional painters want faster drying paint, not slower, so that they can apply a second coat the same day. And they tend to move very fast so they don't have to worry about their brush line drying too quickly. They may use Floetrol for special circumstances such as slow painting of intricate trim or cabinets.

So the reason they don't put it in every gallon is that painters typically don't want it. You can always add Floetrol for special circumstances but you can't take it out, so the default is without.
posted by JackFlash at 11:12 AM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I do a lot of painting, mostly older properties (and mostly decorative/faux work). Floetrol is great for making your paint super-smooth. Rarely is this desirable. Super-smooth paint tends to show off every imperfection in the wall, including all that settling/wobbliness that doesn't really sand easily or requires re-mudding or drywall replacement (rarely in the budget). That tiny bit a roller texture can surprisingly make the difference between "OMG is that wall going to fall down?" and "OMG that looks great!"
You say construction...do you mostly do newer properties or are painting mostly new walls? Then you have a smoother canvas. Personally, I usually just use a little water to get better flow (because yeah, volatiles suck), but usually only if the paint is particularly thick. A little roller texture (like eggshell as opposed to flat) tends to last longer/age better. (Things that are overly perfect get wrecked easier.)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:02 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

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