Fastflow: what The Decorators Forum members wanted to know
Last month, we teamed up with The Decorators Forum to host a Facebook Live session all about our recently launched Fastflow range of water-based trim paints, which are now available in a choice of hundreds of different colours.
Our panel included Paul Fish, a 30-year veteran of our product focus laboratory; John Pritchard, manager of our Blackburn Crown Decorating Centre; and Matthew Brown, a senior application specialist in our technical department.
Hundreds of decorators watched the live stream on the day, and the video has racked up thousands of views since then with tradespeople keen to learn more about Crown Trade, the Fastflow range and water-based paints in general.
We’ve put together some of the top questions here so read on to find out more!
Andrew Alan liked the fact that Fastflow is suitable for both interior and exterior projects, but asked our panel what makes it different from products solely for interior trim work?
Paul explained: “The polymers we use indicate how well it’s going to work outside, and we select them very carefully. We screen lots of different polymers from different suppliers before choosing the one that best meets the properties we want. Before products go to market, we do natural exposure testing and accelerated weather testing so we’re confident that the product will perform when used outside.”
Harry Stone also wanted to know how Crown Paints ensures our products have the best opacity – something that Paul and Matthew’s departments work closely together to achieve.
Paul said: “We specially formulate our paint to achieve the optimum use of the white pigment that we put in to give the opacity. We then compare that to competitors. We make sure that, as a system, it will cover extremes of colour change – such as white over black. In the applications department, they apply wall paints over a black and white striped wallpaper to check opacity.”
Matthew added: “Yes, mine and Paul’s department work hand-in-hand, so once Paul is happy with the formulation in the lab, I do all the applications that a decorator would do onsite to test it thoroughly in a real-world setting. We go over multiple substrates to see if the opacity or application changes, and once I’m happy with it then we can confidently say ‘this is better than anybody’s out there’.”
Chris Milwood also had a question about Fastflow’s opacity – namely, why is the Fastflow undercoat not as white as the gloss: would this not improve opacity too?
Paul responded: “That white pigment is one of the most expensive components in paint, and to put so much of that in to achieve a really good opacity with the undercoat is a bit of a false economy. That’s especially so when you’re going to be painting over it with two-coats of the Fastflow satin or gloss: it’s just not worth putting it in.”
On a practical level, Lee Quin asked about the best method for cleaning brushes after using Fastflow.
Matthew responded: “One little tip for keeping brushes clean when using any water-based trim product: keep a paint kettle next to you, with a little water in, and when you go for your break give the brush a quick swill. You don’t have to clean it thoroughly, just give it a quick swill, spin it out, and it should be ready to go when you get back off your break. Otherwise, even in a short time, water-based paint can start to dry in your bristles, particularly near the stock as there’s more oxygen coming into contact with the paint there.”
John added: “If that doesn’t work we have plenty of options down at The Crown Decorating Centre, plenty of systems that will help you refresh your brushes, or try some new ones!”
The Decorators Forum’s own Mike Cupit, our host for the livestream, asked the panel to explain the benefits of switching from more traditional oil-based paints to water-based – something our panel feels passionately about.
As Matthew explained, health is a big factor: “There’s not always open space in the painting game. You’ve got boiler rooms, you’ve got cupboards: and painting with solvents, the fumes can start making you dizzy. There’s none of that with water. It’s easy to clean off yourself, so no more scrubbing yourself with white spirits. Health is the main health aspect for me.”
John continued: “People are creatures of habit, and there are pros-and-cons to both systems. With water-based paints there’s the environmental benefit – we have to be a bit more conscientious, and that’s the main thing for me.”
Paul added: “We’ve tried from the off to match the performance of the solvent-based products with Fastflow, and I think we’ve achieved that. The turn-around times for jobs is much quicker.”
But the question that our panel judged to be the most insightful came from decorator Ste Markey, who asked why Crown – or any other paint suppliers – doesn’t give some sort of money off for empty tins for reuse-or-recycle.
John was more than happy to clarify that in fact we already do re-use and recycle our cans! As John explained: “Crown is in partnership with an organisation called Nimtech – a social enterprise that works with people on the job seekers’ scheme. Nimtech works in partnership with the Prince’s Trust, and we’ve recently opened up a second site at our Hull facility.
“Everything comes back through our Nimtech scheme: all the plastic gets recycled, the paint gets recycled and sent to good causes across the UK, and the plastic is made into benches and donated. If we started to do a rebate scheme for cans at store level, we wouldn’t be able to work with Nimtech, which does invaluable work in communities around the country.
“So we do emphasise recycling, we are a big, big fan of it – and via Nimtech we’re able put the money back into the community and the Prince’s Trust.”
To watch the video in full, click here!