Don’t worry, if you can’t find your color here, there’s plenty more swatches to look at in the back. Image Credit: Flickr User Clean Wal-Mart (CC BY 2.0)
“You need to go back to the paint store, Jim,” Anne says. “Look at it. It’s hideous.” “You can’t even see it,” says Jim. “The wall’s white. What do you want?” “I want it to be the same white,” says Anne. “I can see it. Right there.” She points to a roller’s width of paint on the living room wall. It almost blends in with the rest. “The Hunters are coming over for dinner tomorrow. You know that if our walls aren’t all the same shade of white that I’m gonna hear about it from Stephanie, and then from the rest of the neighborhood when I take the kids to swim practice next week. I swear she doesn’t have anything better to do.” Jim scowls. He crosses his arms across his chest. “Maybe I’ll paint that Stephanie white,” he says. “Maybe you’ll go back to the paint store,” says Anne. “Any why don’t you take a chip of paint with you so you get it right this time.”
Inaccurate Printed Color Swatches are Replaced with Spectrophotometers
Color matching has long been a standard offering of paint retailers. In the old days, it involved thousands of different printed color swatches homeowners or contractors could visually pair with the sample they wanted to match to. They’d bring in a paint chip from their wall, a cut-out from a magazine, or maybe something weird like a bird’s feather. Then they’d compare their sample to the printed swatches and pick the closest match. Your technician would then run out to the stock room or mix up a new can, and they’d be on their way.
This method resulted in a lot of complaints of poor color matches, which meant unhappy customers. Printed swatches aren’t the same color as liquid paint in a can or solid paint on a wall. The fluorescent lighting of your store isn’t the same as the incandescent or LED lighting of a home’s interior and certainly isn’t the same as daylight through a window or on an exterior surface. Matching under these conditions will yield results that are fairly close to the desired color, and if people aren’t picky, that’s probably close enough. However, some people want exact matches, and as the human eye can distinguish between millions of discrete colors1, they’ve got a lot to pick from. So paint retailers found a better way.
Spectrophotometers: your store almost certainly already has one2. When a customer brings in the color swatch that they want their walls to look like, your technician zaps it with the spectrophotometer, which quantizes the color measurement into exact color coordinates. These numbers are fed directly into your automated mixer and produce the exact shade that the customer desires. It’s simpler, quicker, and more accurate than the old system.
Roofing color is one of the most important features homeowners consider when selecting a new roof, often trumping even brand and style.
Image Source: Unsplash user Wojtek Witkowski
Roof replacement is one of the most expensive routine home maintenance endeavors most homeowners will undertake. As such, cost and durability are two of the major factors informing roofing product purchasing decisions. However, as interest in home design, aesthetics, and environmental responsibility has grown, the choice of roofing materials has become more important than ever before; rather than simply replicating their current roofs, consumers want to enhance the appearance, value, and function of their homes by thoughtfully considering both roofing type and roofing color.
As Building Products of Canada Corp. points out:
Studies have shown that roughly 60% of homeowners’ final buying decisions are based on color. Builders have become more cognizant of this and new home projects are increasingly designed with set color themes in mind, themes that give projects a sense of balance and unity. Similarly, renovation and remodeling projects incorporate color as a key criterion in materials selection.1
Today, homeowners often have a unique vision for what they want their home to look like and color is a central factor in realizing this vision; in fact, color is so important than 90% of contractors say roofing color can determine both the brand and type of product their customers select.2 In response to this market demand, roofing manufacturers are now offering an extraordinary array of color options to meet the needs of today’s discerning consumers. Along with expanded color choices comes a heightened need for advanced color quality monitoring within the roofing product industry.
New paint technologies are allowing even darker colored roofs to maximize light reflectance. Image Source: Flickr user Charlotta Wasteson
New technologies are enhancing color consistency in ceramic tile via algorithmic color formulation. Image Source: Flickr user Living Rooms London
Ceramic tiles are one of the most versatile and widely used building materials in existence. Both practical and decorative, these tiles can be incorporated in a multitude of ways within both residential and commercial structures, where they adorn everything from walls to floors to ceilings. With the surging interest in home decorating and renovation, consumers are more willing to experiment with unique shapes and colors than ever before.
But as interest has grown, so too have aesthetic standards, as consumers expect both a wide variety of color and color consistency in ceramic tile production. UV spectrophotometric analysis of emerging color formulation technologies is playing an essential role in expanding and enhancing the variety and quality of color, helping researchers create new and improved methods of controlling the look of these functional and often beautiful products.
While color formulation algorithms have become standard in many industries, ceramic tile production presents special challenges for implementation of this unique technology. Image Source: Flickr user DuPont Surfaces
Plastic playground equipment comes in a broad variety of colors to create vibrant plays paces for families. Image Source: Flickr user Frances Gonzales
I can tell it’s summer by the sounds I hear from my window. Ecstatic with summer vacation excitement, children laugh and shriek at the playground next to my house, running, swinging, and climbing themselves into exhaustion. To me, it is the soundtrack to a season full of lazy days and late night swimming
The playground was built a year ago, replacing worn and discolored plastic parts with new, brightly colored components. The result is a wonderland of swings, jungle gyms, and slides, still looking fresh out of the box. But while countless families are now enjoying this new addition to our community, few are aware of the complex processes that must take place in order to create and preserve the vibrant colors of plastic playground equipment.
The Benefits of Plastic Playground Equipment
Playground equipment can be built using a wide variety of materials, from wood to steel, rope to rubber. Plastics, however, are amongst the most forgiving materials, providing relatively soft surfaces, rounded edges, and no risk of splinters.1 As such, playgrounds are increasingly integrating plastic components in their designs, allowing for improved safety and comfort. For the environmentally conscious, recycled plastics are particularly popular choices.
But the benefits of plastic playground equipment is also aesthetic; available in a virtually endless range of colors, plastics allow for the creation of vivid and beautiful spaces for kids to play and explore. Creating those colors, however, can bring unique challenges.
Precise blends of pigments and color-protecting additives create the perfect colors for modern playground equipment. Image Source: Unsplash user Joel Filipe
From historic and weathered, to modern and sleek, bricks play a vital role in the aesthetics of American architecture. Image Credit: Unsplash user Fernando Reyes
Brick is an essential part of the aesthetic fabric of American architecture. In every major U.S. city, and thousands of smaller cities, towns, and villages, brick buildings line the avenues, house after house, business after business. Even in areas dominated by wooden, cement, or modern steel-and-glass architecture, brick buildings still dot the streets, relics from earlier days or testaments to the taste of their builder. Often, even buildings made from other materials have a brick facade simply for looks. In the U.S., we like to build with brick. 1
Builders Choose Bricks Based on Color
The reasons for the prevalence of brick are myriad. Brick has enormous compressive strength, allowing it to hold heavy loads. It insulates highly effectively, regulating temperature and blocking out noise, making it ideal for use in harsh climates and high-traffic areas. Another major selling point is that brick does not burn, a fact that led to the proliferation of brick buildings after a number of historic fires in cities across the country. After Chicago burned to the ground in 1871, for example, brick was mandated in the building code. But perhaps the most important reason people choose brick for their homes is the aesthetic, which explains why even wooden homes so often have brick facades. People simply like the way brick looks.
Because aesthetics are so important, the final color of bricks is of considerable value for brick manufacturers. While a range of colors are tolerated—and even prized—in bricks used for architecture, builders are still choosing brick based on hue. As such, brick manufacturers must ensure that their bricks are the color that builders desire. This is accomplished both by paying careful attention to the mineral properties of the clay they fire to produce brick and by using color measurement instruments to ensure that each batch of bricks falls within acceptable tolerance standards.
Builders pay great attention to the color of their bricks. Credit: Unsplash user Kevin Wolf
The color of mortar contributes to the aesthetic of any brick structure. Image Credit: Unsplash user Francesco Mazzoli
It’s the same old story. Brick gets all the press, but it’s really the mortar that’s holding everything together. Which means that, for architects, contractors, homeowners, and mortar manufacturers, the color of mortar is every bit as important to the overall aesthetic of a structure as the color of brick. While few may notice or comment on a mortar color that perfectly complements the hue of a building’s brick, incorrectly colored mortar can become glaringly obvious to even the casual observer. For this reason, contractors pay close attention to the mortar color specified by architects and desired by homeowners. Manufacturers, therefore, must closely monitor their products to ensure they continually produce the mortar colors they advertise. This is especially true for manufacturers who fill special color orders from architects, mixing to the preference of their customers.
Architects choose mortar to match the color of their materials. Image Credit: Unsplash User Mike Tinnion
Reflective glass has replaced concrete in the facade of many modern buildings. Image Credit: Flickr User paul bica
“Why didn’t anybody check that?” asked Stephanie. “You must’ve noticed it during installation, right? It must’ve been pretty obvious that a quarter of the panes weren’t the same color as the rest. How come you didn’t stop and double check with me?”
Around the room, the heads of her contractors nodded in guilty agreement. A few hid behind their coffee cups. Stephanie shook her head. “We did notice,” spoke up Ted, her general. “But we were already behind and we figured you knew about it. You weren’t around to check with. Sorry, Stephanie. I should’ve called you.” “Yeah,” said Stephanie. “You should’ve. We’re going to get another week behind taking them down and reinstalling. Alright, let’s go. You know what to do.”
As they filed out of the trailer, Stephanie stopped on the bottom step and looked up at the building. In the facade of steel-blue glass building, copper-colored panels stood out like missing teeth. She shook her head again and picked up the phone. It was time to have some words with the manufacturer.
Glass Color Consistency Is Essential for Brand Reputation
For manufacturers of architectural glass, color is a major component of brand. Architects and contractors purchasing glass products for buildings expect that glass will conform to their exacting standards. If manufacturers deliver off-color sheets, not only will they be required to provide a replacement at their own cost, they may suffer significant reputational damage as well. Architects often share advice on their materials sources within their firms, networks, and professional associations. As a result, a manufacturer incapable of consistently producing glass within established color tolerance standards stands not only to lose future projects from a single customer but referral projects as well.
Architectural glass must be consistently colored over large areas. Image Credit: Flickr user Bernard Spragg. NZ