Thursday, February 4, 2010

Painting the town

As wonderful as glow-in-the-dark photoluminescent tape is, sometimes it is just easier to paint something.  Odd shaped or textured surfaces, or just bulk application frequently makes it more economical to do this, too.  Another reason to paint rather than stick, is that the finish is more permanent.  Tape-based products vary in the type of base material they are made from, and adhesive backing provided.  In high traffic areas (for hands, too, not just feet) tapes can sometimes snag on the edge and either create a trip hazard and/or a peeling problem.  Curious vandals may want to re-appropriate your carefully applied glow-tape, too.

When looking for glow-in-the-dark photoluminescent paints, it is highly recommended that you verify that the products meet ot exceed the New York City MEA 451-05-M-2 Standard for LL26 Safety Evacuation Markings.  These aren't the only certification for products, but it is one of the most common and well publicized references out there.

Also, note that some products don't use the Stontium Aluminate (SrAl) based pigments, either.  The products by GloNation, although very cool and helpful for special effects, use phosphorescent dyes; and the Rustoleum 214945 'Glow-in-the-Dark' Latex paint, which uses zinc sulfide (ZnS).  Many of the cheaper photoluminescent Low Location Lighting (LLL) systems in use today are based on zinc sulfide (ZnS) as the main pigment. The advantage is relatively quick charging, but these products have a limited 'storage' life and the ZnS corrodes over time (2-4 years lifespan).  It also doesn't glow as long or brightly after being charged. However, the introduction of Stontium Aluminate (SrAl) as a pigment, has provided a much higher level of performance. Although it takes slightly longer to charge, it can 'store' more light, making it much more suitable for use in locations where ambient light levels are low, or dark for extended periods.

Lastly, in order to get a good bright glow paint treatment, it is very important to follow the manufacturer's directions (you know: RTFM! ).
  • Most of them require a bright white base coat so that there is a reflective surface behind the paint to assist the glow.  If you paint the glow material over a dark surface, then the glow that emits from the back-side of the coating will just be absorbed into the background instead of reflected back out through the nominally transparent glow paint coating.
  • Apply several coats of the material to build-up a few mils of  paint thickness.  One thing you will notice with most photoluminescent products is that the brightness of the product is related to the thickness of the product (it is also related the formulation).
  • Apply a clear coating to protect the photoluminescent coating.  Otherwise it will eventually scrape-off or wear-off.  This stuff ain't cheap, so make the effort to keep it intact.
You can also apply traction grit additives to the coatings.  Ask your vendor what they recommend, and whether it should be mixed into the photoluminescent coatings, or into the clear over-coat.

American Permalight ( - Spray paint, Acrylic Wall paint, and 2-part Epoxy & Polyurethane paints
EverGlow (
GloBrite (
GloNation (
GloTech International (
KanKote (
KryptaGlow (
GBC Coatings (
Metal Safe Sign International (
ProLayer Inc. (

Get samples.  Apply.  Test - for a really long time - say . . . 12 hours.  Buy the one that works best.


  1. Erich,

    I like your comments on safety grade photoluminescent coatings. I would like to add a few suggestions:

    1. Although epoxy and urethane coatings are generally the most durable photoluminescent safety markings available on the market today, these coatings should only be applied by those end users or contractors familiar with and who have experience applying these coatings.

    These are not applied like latex wall paint; they are much more difficult to apply properly than oil base or other paints and coatings with which your readers are most familiar.

    2. High performance epoxy and urethane coatings are commercial and industrial coatings that must be applied according to the manufacturers instructions.

    EverGlow ( provides kits with premeasured pigment, epoxy resin and epoxy hardener that, when mixed completely and properly perform as desired on a properly prepared surface. But, these coatings have a defined pot life and become very hot as they cure in the mixing bucket. Hot enough to burn an inexperienced user.

    3. Epoxy and urethane coatings must be applied on a clean, primed surface. We recommend a white color primer suitable for the specific surface if a long lasting coating is desired. A white or gloss white color primer is necessary to reflect the glow from the pigment and effect maximum coating luminance. For high wear, high traffic areas, a clear urethane top coat can also be applied over our EverGlow coatings. We offer specific coating solutions to meet the needs of the end user and his application surface.

    4. If these coatings are applied on stair nosings in theater seating areas, the end user may want to add a slip resistant additive. A "grit" surface, when used, must not reduce the luminance of the photoluminescent coating below design or code required luminance levels.

    5. EverGlow offers high performance epoxy and urethane coatings which provide these luminance levels with only one brush or roller application. We do not require multiple coatings (each) of the same primer, epoxy or urethane. But, we do suggest that each coat be properly applied.

    6. Finally, we agree that any coating system should be tested in a small area before applying to an entire facility. Different coatings, different manufacturers and different application methods offer widely different performance for durability, resistance to wear and soil, adhesion to the application surface, pot life, cure time after application to the surface and luminance.

    Charles V. Barlow is the operations manager for EverGlow NA, Inc. - - or - toll free - 866-744-4706.

  2. Erich;

    Great comments! I would like to add a few things if you don't mind. First I would like to say that as the manufacturer of Photo-Luminescent coatings and as an installer of PL coatings and floor coatings We have a very specific Formula and application method per any given substrate. has a research and development department that tests not only every aspect of our coatings, we also test application methods and techniques. We have proprietary coating formulas that resist deterioration from chemicals, extreme wear and Ultra Violet Rays (UV). We Use a modified plural component epoxy polymer (white reflective) as a base coat, and Use a UV stable Chemical and abrasion resistant Urea modified polyurethane (Polyurea) and patented Strontium illuminate pigment as the final coating. Our coating does not require a third clear coat to protect the previous coatings because of the Unique characteristics of our proprietary Polyurea glow coating. The pigment in the coating is suspended slightly below the surface and is protected from degradation by the elements, wear and UV. It is in fact the only glow coating available that is rated for outdoor use, and is quickly being accepted as the standard for all glow coatings. Our coating technology is used in a variety of applications from outdoor signage and markings to UL 1994 listed emergency egress systems and UL 924 listed Exit signs. Traditional epoxy coatings sold by other companies simply do not compare in Glow intensity,Durability,Adhesion,UV stability, and Chemical resistance. Only has this coating technology and only has the expertise to either install or help you install this superior glow coating system. We will customize a system for anyone with any application. We offer design and installation to meet the needs of our customers. Our glow coatings found on are the best and brightest in the industry. We are happy to offer technical installation help to ensure the success of your project. Your Safety is our Concern! "Let our Coatings Show you the Way!"