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How Antimicrobial Coatings Protect Surfaces

As we prepare to safely return to work, building owners and facility managers are striving to demonstrate that their properties exhibit a clean, neat appearance. This is especially important for high-traffic public buildings and common spaces, such as health care facilities, educational campuses, apartment buildings, senior living facilities, entries, waiting rooms and lobbies.

High-visibility, high-touch finished surfaces are under close scrutiny. These include such architectural aluminum products as windows and curtain wall framing, doors and entranceways, wall panels and column covers, interior partitions and handrails. Coupled with regularly scheduled cleanings, antimicrobial coatings can enhance the appearance and protective performance of these surfaces, spaces and buildings, providing owners and occupants with greater peace of mind.

How antimicrobial coatings work

Microbes, or microorganisms, include bacteria, algae, fungi and mold. There are an estimated 4.5 million bacterial and fungi species throughout our planet, many of which are spread by us humans. Under the right conditions, some microbes can double in number every 30 minutes or faster. Once microbes have multiplied to the millions, they may begin to cause stains, odors and even deterioration of the metal surface.

Antimicrobial coatings work by creating an inhospitable environment for damage-causing microorganisms, and prevent or limit the growth of mold, mildew and other microbes. Wherever stain- and odor-causing bacteria may be a concern on architectural aluminum surfaces, buildings and products can benefit from this extra level of protection. Unfortunately, by the time you can see an area of microbe build-up, the damage is already underway, so prevention is the best form of protection.

The most prevalent microbial threats to our surfaces―bacteria and mold―need moisture to flourish. The antimicrobial coatings commonly selected for finishing architectural aluminum products relies an ion exchange mechanism. This mechanism is activated by the presence of moisture, causing it to release silver cations. The silver disrupts the microbes’ metabolism and reproduction, so it will not grow or damage the architectural metal products.

How they’re made

Antimicrobial coatings for aluminum products typically are formulated using 70 percent PVDF resin-based fluoropolymer finishing systems. This three-coat liquid paint systems offers a nearly limitless choice of colors, including micas and metallic coatings, and custom color matches. Aluminum flat sheet, and straight, curved and 90-degree extruded aluminum all can be finished with colorful, antimicrobial coatings. Applied under factory-managed, quality-controlled conditions, the paint’s infused protective properties will work continuously for the useful lifetime of the coating.

The warranty and specification for antimicrobial coatings are quite similar to other 70 percent PVDF three-coat finishing systems. To ensure your finished material meets the highest performance, specify AAMA 2605-20. Published by the Fenestration & Glazing Industry Association (FGIA), this is our industry’s most stringent standard for architectural coatings. Finishes meeting this standard are proven to exhibit outstanding resistance to humidity, color change, chalk, gloss loss and chemicals for at least 10 years. In most cases, a standard finish warranty should cover the same timeframe.

If you have any questions about whether antimicrobial coatings are right for your architectural aluminum products and high-profile projects, please contact your finishing service partner.


Tammy Schroeder

Tammy Schroeder

Tammy Schroeder, LEED Green Associate, is the director of marketing for Linetec, Tubelite and Alumicor brands. With more than 20 years of experience in the finishing industry, she serves as an industry educator on high-quality, high-performance architectural products, finishing and services. She can be reached at