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BSD SpecLink's Paint Specification Strategy – 2015 Update

SECTION 09 9123 – INTERIOR PAINTING; SECTION 09 9113 – EXTERIOR PAINTING

What We Did: 

Section 09 9000 - Paints and Coatings has been divided into two sections; Section 09 9113 - Exterior Painting and Section 09 9123 - Interior Painting. We did this to improve the user experience. By separating the paint categories and their respective product listings, the user can streamline decision making and coordination using this specifying approach. In aligning the specific systems and preparation methods unique to interior or exterior environments, we have improved the overall organization of the information and ease of specifying paints.

Specific changes the user will notice:

What has not changed:

The strategies for specifying paints! The options outlined below were published in the LinkLine newsletter, summer 2012 edition. The content has been revised to reflect the most recent updates and division of exterior and interior painting.


The Problem:

A typical painting guide specification prepared by a paint manufacturer sets out each combination of top coat, intermediate coat, and primer for each sheen needed, for each substrate – each combination is called a “system.” This results in very long master text, most of which is not necessary for each project. The specifier must wade through all this and eliminate what is not needed. SpecLink could make that process somewhat easier by using links to automatically include related components of a system and simply not print the rest; however this would still be cumbersome for the user.

Our Solution: SpecLink’s Paint Specifying Strategy

Rather than using the conventional approach, SpecLink’s paint sections make paint specifying much easier. The following key principles make this possible:

Default System Strategy: 

SpecLink’s use of default systems is based on the fact that many substrates in a building may be painted with the same top coat, plus the idea that as few different paints as possible should be specified, to avoid confusion and errors on the job. Because SpecLink’s primary audience is designers of buildings, the default systems are those for buildings; however any system may be designated as the default by using similar language. The objective of the default is to avoid leaving anything out by accident.

Top Coat Strategy: 

For each system, there is a selection of top coats, provided they are made by a reasonable number of manufacturers, or there is an applicable MPI number. The strategy is based on only one top coat being selected for each particular system.

Sheen Strategy: 

Applicable sheens are listed for each system. The sheens offered are mostly the MPI listed sheens however, in some cases, other sheens that are manufactured are included. By selecting an MPI number, the appropriate sheens are indicated by a yellow triangle.  Each sheen description includes its MPI gloss level number and an option to state “use this sheen at all locations” or some other specifier-determined scope description. For example, the default interior system flat sheen includes “use at ceilings and other overhead surfaces” as one option. Sheens are not mutually exclusive – all applicable sheens are intended to appear in the final specification.

Primer Strategy: 

Three options are available for specifying primers: 

  1. Use the statement, “As recommended by top coat manufacturer for specific substrate.” This will suffice for the majority of cases.
  2. Specify with the system by using the fill-in-the blank option.
  3. Use the list of relevant primer types with optional MPI numbers. These can be coordinated with top coats by using the new MPI schedule in Part 3.

Primers are not mutually exclusive – all relevant top coat/primer combinations are intended to appear in the final specification.

Brand Name Product Strategy:

The products have been selected based on 1) use of MPI Approved Product listings, 2) the manufacturer’s preferred products as they want to have them listed, 3) the sheens the products are available in, and 4) other considerations relating to the application.

Volatile Organic Content (VOC) Strategy: 

SpecLink’s current VOC strategy remains the same -- the specifier includes the appropriate statements about VOC limits. Correlation with brand name products is up to the specifier.

Notes to the Specifier: 

Master notes explain this strategy and inform the specifier of MPI number descriptions and brand name products.

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How to Specify:

SECTION 09 9113 – EXTERIOR PAINTING:

Below are the FOUR (4) exterior systems. Additional “narrow scope” systems are not listed here, but are included in the specification as a way to define very specification situations.


E-OP = Exterior, Opaque:  (“Default” exterior system) Use this system to define requirements for the majority of exterior painted surfaces in normal environments. Keep it simple -- specify as many of the surfaces you can under this heading.  
Rationale for this system:

Paints offered are:

E-OP-FL = Concrete Floors and Wood Decks to be Painted:  For porches, patios and decks. Paints offered are:

E-TR-W = Transparent Finish on Wood:  Stains for vertical surfaces. Finishes offered are:

E-TR-C = Transparent Finish on Concrete Floors:  Includes semi-transparent or solid color stain for concrete, optional sealer. Finishes offered are:

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How to Specify:

SECTION 09 9123 – INTERIOR PAINTING

Below are descriptions of the EIGHT (8) interior systems, with illustrations. Where similar applications that are commonly encountered in buildings are usually finished using the same top coat, they are grouped into the same system. For the infrequent situations where this is not true – perhaps there are several “medium duty” applications that need different top coats -- the specifier can easily copy the system and make different choices in the copy. Also, if a new system or approach is desired, the flexibility of SpecLink allows the specifier to omit reference to MPI top coats altogether and insert a preferred brand name product. Additional “narrow scope” systems are not listed here, but are included in the specification as a way to define very specification situations.

The interior systems are as follows:


I-OP = Interior, Opaque:  (“Default” interior system) Use this system to define requirements for the majority of interior painted surfaces in normal environments. Keep it simple -- specify as many of the surfaces you can under this heading. If more than one sheen is necessary, define where each is to be used. For example, the same paint may be used for both walls and door frames; however the walls would be flat or eggshell sheen, while the door frames are semi-gloss for better washability.  

Rationale for the use of this system:

Paints offered are:


I-OP-MD-DT = Interior, Opaque, Medium Duty, Door/Trim:  Use this system to define slightly more durable paint for common items like doors and door frames, railings, and other items that people touch frequently. "Medium Duty" is not an absolute rating; it is implied by the context – usually by the items that it is used for.

Do not use this system unless the paint is different from that specified as the default for all surfaces, above. For example, if the default paint is durable enough, yet needs to be a different sheen from walls, use the default paint system instead of this one -- define where each sheen is to be used.

Rationale for the use of this system:

Paints offered are:


I-OP-MD-WC = Interior, Opaque, Medium Duty, Vertical/Overhead:  Use this system to define slightly more durable paint for walls or ceilings in some spaces. "Medium Duty" is not an absolute rating, though implied by the context – usually by the items it is used for.
The rationale for this system is essentially the same as for I-OP-MD-DT, though focused on walls and ceilings. The same types of paints are offered, plus:


I-OP-DF = Dry Fall:  Use this system for metals exposed overhead, including structure and overhead-mounted services. This system is primarily for utilitarian spaces where overhead items are left exposed. Items to be painted must be delivered and installed with appropriate shop primer. Almost all dry fall paints are white. Paints offered are:


I-OP-FL = Concrete and Wood Floors to be Painted:  Includes paint for normal interior traffic; no abrasive or steel wheeled traffic. Paints offered are:


I-TR-W = Transparent Finish on Wood:  Includes Danish Oil finish or varnish finish with optional stain, optional sanding sealer, and one or two top coats. Finishes offered are:


I-TR-FL = Transparent Finish on Wood Floors:  Includes varnish finish with optional stain and one or two top coats. Finishes offered are:


I-TR-C = Transparent Finish on Concrete Floors:  Includes semi-transparent or solid color stain for concrete, with optional sealer. Finishes offered are:

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