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Alan Mays, AIA
Senior Member
Username: amays

Post Number: 32
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 11:51 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Since Masterspec has recently adopted the MPI spec for both paint and high performance coatings, I am wondering if this has been fully adopted by other specifiers. What is the history of MPI? Has the paint/coating industry adopted it? What are the pluses and minuses of MPI? Any opinions?
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 212
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 01:47 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

From the persective of someone who has had to specify painting on projects in widely varying geographies, MPI should help substantially because I don't have to worry about figuring out regional manufacturers. In addition, since architectural paint manufacturers generally do not publish or provide their test results for hiding, durability, etc., at least MPI will give a base line for product quality. I have been told that the cost of testing one product is not high, but if a manufacturer has many products it can add up. I would expect to see manufacturers starting to test and list much more rapidly as specifiers start to use MPI as a basis. (Disclosure: I'm on ARCOM's Masterspec Architectural Review Committee.)
D. Marshall Fryer
Senior Member
Username: dmfryer

Post Number: 25
Registered: 09-2003
Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 01:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I believe this is primarily driven by the coatings manufacturers. I anticipate a lengthy transition, before most painting sub-contractors become comfortable with the system.

I showed one local painting sub an example of a spec written with the MPI designations, he looked as if I was asking him to translate ancient Greek.

My biggest surprise in reviewing the MPI system was that the old standby "two coats over a primer" has been designated a "Premium" coating system; a "Custom" grade system is only a single coat over a primer. This puts me in a bit of a defensive bind when trying to give cost-sensitive clients what I consider to be a standard level of quality.
Nina Dillon
Username: nina

Post Number: 3
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 02:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

The Charlotte CSI Chapter had a round table discussion last night on this topic, and in some cases it appears that the Manufacturer reps are as lost and confused as the rest of us. All in all it appears that it will be a good thing, but like most "new" things it will take time for it to be easy.

The question was asked last night about some discrepancies between ARCOM's MasterSpec version and the MPI guide spec that is available online through the website. Is one more current than the other or which should we follow? I don't have the specific discrepancies in front of me, but has this been or will it be addressed?
Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 07:33 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

To Nina - Your second para. sounds like you're referring to hi-perf ctgs. section updated in previous quarter by ARCOM, which lists both MPI#s and specific mfr/prod#s. Current update for "architectural" paint section only lists MPI#s. This stinks, as if you look at some MPI catagories, some mfrs have more than one product listed! My guess is that within that specific catagory, one product is premium while others are lesser? Guess which you're going to get unless you are more specific in your specs?
Nina Dillon
Intermediate Member
Username: nina

Post Number: 4
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 08:15 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

What "anonymous" indicates, may be true, but there is also the issue (not related to ARCOM/MPI discrepancies) that not every manufacturer has something that fits into each of the categories so we in fact may end up with products from more than one manufacturer on a project, something I believe we try to avoid.
Ralph Liebing
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 71
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 10:34 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

A few years ago in trying to establish a competitive painting spec, usable nation-wide, we came on a very insightful and valuable discussion in the MasterSpec evaluations. This dealt with sections of the country, and the variety of paint manufacturers available in each. To reach our goal, we reduced our spec to 5-6 manufacturers who distribute nation-wide,and eliminated the smaller regional makers.This has worked well, and we have found the technical input as well as the products we needed via this scenario. These manufacturers are the larger firms,and tend to have nearly identical product lines. We have not had to step-back to multi-supplier spec.
Posted on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 04:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Anyway, the "majors" tend to have a more "full"/complete product line than typical regionals (who generally have to "partner" with another (generally hi-perf) company) in order to present a "full" line of products; sorry to any regional mfrs who may be listening.
The other difficulty that I have found thru the years that each mfr (whether regional or national) has their own opinion/recommendations in coating a specific surface (how does one "compare" an alkyd primer recommended for a specific substrate by one mfr vs. a latex primer recommended by another mfr for the same substrate). MPI groups generically, so there's a possibility of specifying a particular mfrs product for a specific condition that is not the mfr's "best" recommendation?
Until the current dilemma (as I see it) in MasterSpec is resolved, our office is making a decision to keep using the previous version instead.
Richard Howard, AIA CSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: rick_howard

Post Number: 21
Registered: 07-2003
Posted on Saturday, April 24, 2004 - 09:06 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Mea culpa from another Masterspec review committee member.

This "new" method of specifying paints will be more than a little confusing for both specifiers and contractors until it becomes more common in practice.

Paint is one of the few things we specify that does not have a well-established industry standard. And we use it on almost every project.

Using MPI allows the specifier to write a performance spec for coatings. When using the proprietary spec method, it was difficult, if not impossible, to determine which products constituted equals. One manufacturer's "best" product may in fact, be inferior in some attributes when compared to another's "high-quality" product.

If you were satisfied with options available under the previous proprietary spec, I can certainly appreciate the inclination to continue using it. The method of specifying that gets you the desired results is the correct one. If you know your products you can write a good proprietary spec.

Regarding discrepancies in product listings, the MPI website will be updated frequently and should be visited each time you prepare a painting spec to verify the existence of locally-available products for a given MPI product classification.

Products may also be added to the MPI listing between the time you issue your spec and the time a product is submitted by the painter for your approval, so you will have to check the listing again at the time you review submittals.

As with any reference standard, the MPI "pass" designation is merely a threshhold. There will be products that are clearly superior to others sharing the same designation. I expect that over time, manufacturers will address this apparent inequity by making "MPI-spec" coatings so that they can be competitive. They also will make claims that certain products outperform the standards. They may even quantify their claims.

For those uncomfortable leaving so much to the discretion of the bidder, one could also write a combination performance and proprietary spec by listing acceptable manufacturers or perhaps even adding a requirement that all coatings come from a single manufacturer. However, you would need to make certain that the spec does not become so restrictive as to make it impossible for anyone to comply.
Sheryl Dodd-Hansen, FCSI, CCS
Intermediate Member
Username: sheryldh

Post Number: 8
Registered: 09-2002
Posted on Thursday, April 29, 2004 - 01:04 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

You might like to note that there will be a presentation at CSI University in San Antonio, on Friday, July 9, 2004, by Barry Law, President of the Master Painters Institute, entitled "Taking the Pain out of Paint". It will include information on MPI Standards and Specifications; design considerations; the MPI Architectural Painting Specification Manual; gloss/sheen standards; Why Paints Fail; Quality Assurance; Maintenance Repainting and the impact on Operating and Maintenance Costs; Paint as a Green Material (i.e. LEED). MPI's websites are www.paintinfo.com and www.mpi.net.
Doug Frank FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: doug_frank_ccs

Post Number: 72
Registered: 06-2002
Posted on Thursday, June 10, 2004 - 10:40 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Iíve looked at the MPI standards in depth and am a little confused by the multiple listings of several individual manufacturers under the same category. For example, under MPI #53 Interior Latex Flat, MPI Gloss Level 1, there are two Benjamin Moore products listed (Moorecraft #275 & Regal #215), as well as two ICI products listed (Dulux Professional #1200 & Dulux Ultra #1201), with all showing identical properties based on the MPI chart.

In comparing the actual product data sheets from one of those manufacturers, its two listed products seem to be a little to quite different in a few areas such as Scrub Resistance, Touch Up Ability, and Volume Solids (nearly a 10% difference), and probably a $3-5 difference per gallon in cost.

The MPI Guide Specification , as well as Arcomís latest Section 09912, appear to be written as if to include ALL 19 products listed as being equivalent under each category (Gloss Level 1 for example) and being acceptable for use. But some of the listed products sure seem to me to be less equivalent or more acceptable than others.

For myself, Iím not comfortable in listing that many products, especially when they donít appear to all be truly equal, as acceptable for use on our projects. Iím curious as to how the rest of you are addressing the MPI standards in your Painting specs.

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