There’s more to paint than meets the eye

Dulux Trade Brand Manager Daniel Hall explains how selecting the most appropriate paint types and finishes for different spaces within a healthcare building can create enhanced environments for patients and staff

A healthcare building is a working facility with a difference and it’s important to choose ‘transformational’ products and finishes that benefit patients and health professionals alike.

Research shows the way people interact and engage with a healthcare building can be directly affected by the colour and design of the space.

When choosing paints for healthcare environments, hygiene, quality and cost are all important considerations.

It’s also necessary to meet the requirements of NHS Estates Health Building Note 00-10 HBN 00-10. This outlines the NHS safety policy and performance requirements for flooring, walls, ceilings, sanitary assemblies and windows used in healthcare facilities.

Reduce infection risk

An effective infection prevention strategy is a key aspect of quality according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and a key requirement for wall paints in certain rooms and areas.

There are water-based interior emulsions available for healthcare facilities – including operating theatres – that contain an anti-bacterial ingredient.

These products have the power to inhibit bacteria within 12 hours of contamination, preventing the spread of infection and are proven to be effective against MRSA, E.coli and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. Moreover, washing surfaces coated with anti-bacterial paints, far from damaging the paint, results in increased anti-bacterial activity.

Minimise maintenance costs and disruption

To help minimise this disruption and avoid the need to close wards and other facilities, try and use hard-wearing, fully washable water-based emulsions. However, look for products that have high resistance to scrubs, scuffs and stains – typically, these have exceptional durability and exceed the longevity and performance characteristics of traditional paints, allowing repeated cleaning to replace the need for redecoration.

These are available – in order of durability – in matt, eggshell and high-performance eggshell and are commonly used in high-traffic areas such as staircases, corridors, waiting rooms and reception rooms.

Repeated cleaning rather than redecoration means that surfaces painted with these products can have extended maintenance cycles of up to five years, helping to lower costs and disruption. Redecorating twice every ten years as opposed to five times also has the benefit of reducing the environmental impact of the decorating process.

Making rooms feel brighter and more spacious

Space available for staff and patients within healthcare facilities is often limited, which is why the choice of certain colours and light-reflecting paints help make the most of places with little natural light such as corridors and alcoves.

In tests to compare light absorption values, walls decorated with specialised light-reflecting paints absorbed eight per cent of specialised visible light, whereas conventional emulsions absorbed up to twice more.

The result of this is a reduction in the need for artificial lighting. In large spaces such as healthcare facilities, this reduction can help achieve significant savings and sustainability targets – especially when the paints combined with an ultra-tough formulation to extend maintenance cycles.

Creating colour schemes with patients in mind

Well-chosen decor can contribute positively to the creation of an environment in which patients can feel comfortable and at ease.

Certain highly reputable paint manufacturing companies and brands will be able to provide you with access to commercial colour consultants to design colour schemes specifically aimed at a healthcare environment.

It’s important to bear in mind three types of spaces, based on their requirements and constraints: public areas, patient accommodation and treatment rooms and offer specific specifier guidance for each one.

Generally speaking, there will be a neutral colour used for the majority of wall surfaces, flowing throughout the area. This should be complemented by accent colours or stronger shades, used to create visual interest, with door colours being stronger still.

These colour differences are important not only for patient and staff wellbeing but also help to create the necessary level of colour contrast to help visually impaired people find their way around, as required by the Equality Act 2010 Guidelines.

Architects’ resources As a professionals specifying products and colours for the healthcare industry, there are several tools you should make the best of:

• Mobile and tablet apps that allow you to visualise different colour options on the wall in real time.

• Partnership schemes, which allow you to find vetted professionals to collaborate with. For example, a free-to-use website allows architects to search for high quality contractors based on location, project size, skills and accreditations and to compare contractors without commitment.

• Paint specification tools, which you can use as a quick reference guide or to help build an in-depth specification document for tenders. For example, some tools will allow you to search, filter and select the right paint for a project and the relevant clauses will be automatically incorporated.

Last but not least, always choose a respectable paint and coatings company as you’ll have access to a range of professionals and colour consultants with expertise specifically in healthcare to help you select the correct products for the job.