Glowing in the dark or not?
Fluorescent and luminous paints can be a significant aid to site safety, enabling areas of concern or hazardous objects to be identified, but confusion does exist around the roles and functions of fluorescent and luminous paints.
Fluorescent or Luminous – What is the difference?
While both Fluorescent and Luminous paints appear to glow, only luminous paint emits light.
Luminous paint works by storing light energy and then releasing it to emit a photo phosphorescent glow when a light source is removed. During the day and in a well-lit environment, a luminous paint will seem dull and will not draw attention, which limits the application of this paint to brightly lit spaces. Its full effect is only visible when the environment is rapidly plunged into darkness, it will then emit its stored light for up to 20 minutes.
Fluorescent paint works by enhancing the light, making the colours brighter and extremely visible in both bright and low light. However when there is no light to amplify, such as in darkness, fluorescent paint cannot be seen. Unlike Luminous paint, Fluorescent paint cannot be used to glow in the dark.
Fluorescent Paint – Application and Uses
The key function of Fluorescent paint is high visibility in both bright and low light, making it extremely useful for safety applications. Fluorescence is used in high visibility clothing and can be utilized further to draw attention to exits, safety and first aid equipment. It can also be implemented to highlight low beams, bollards and protruding objects that may present an injury risk.
The key element of a fluorescent coating is the base; the white base coat is fundamental in capturing the light and providing the reflectivity necessary for the paint to function.
The base coat should be applied to provide a strong consistent reflective white finish. Once dried, only one or two coats of the coloured coat is necessary – this coat is translucent in nature and designed to allow the light to pass through. The colour should not obliterate the white beneath as would be expected from a conventional coating. This can then be covered, if necessary with a clear protective topcoat to preserve the coating.
Fluorescent paints do have a lifespan, and over time the pigments become exhausted. This means they can no longer amplify light and can begin to appear patchy. When used inside, provided good painting practice is followed, and a protective topcoat is used, you can expect your coating to last a number of years. However, this could be little as a year when exposed to constant UV light outside, making re-application necessary.
Luminous Paint – Application and Uses
Luminous paints possess the ability to remain visible for a limited time in the event of a sudden loss of light, depending on the application this can sometimes be up to an hour, but as a rule of thumb for most applications this is usually closer to 20 minutes.
They are particularly useful for safety and security applications – highlighting escape routes, doorways and fire exits in the event of a blackout. They are also often used to produce some interesting theatrical effects, and have been used in contemporary art.
Unlike its counterpart Fluorescent paint, Luminous can be used unobtrusively, when applied it appears off-white, making it particularly useful in environments where the aesthetics of a space are important.
Much like Fluorescent paint, Luminous paint is also dependant on a well painted base coat, the white base should be applied to produce an even finish, over coated with one or two coats of the Luminous overcoat, and then finished with a clear protective topcoat. This will give the paint the protection necessary for most environments.
Luminous paint also has a lifespan, the pigments become exhausted and can no longer store the light after prolonged use. Provided good painting practice is followed, and a protective topcoat is used, you can expect your coating to last for a number of years inside. However, due to the gradual transition to darkness experienced with natural light, Luminous paint is not suitable for use outside.
Both products have a large range of applications in the factory, warehouse or home and are included in the Coo-Var Safety and Security range.
For more information: Coo-Var, Lockwood Street, Hull, HU2 0HN
Tel: 01482 320853