H&C News meets with suppliers regularly to keep up to date with the latest product and service innovations, aiming to get the inside track on what companies offer to the market and how it is delivered.
This week, we met with Daniel Nevitt, Group Marketing Director at Armourcoat to gain a better understanding of the business. Armourcoat leads the world in developing polished plaster and high performance surface finishes, as already used in many hotels. A global brand operating in over 70 countries, committed to technical excellence.
Today you are a global business, but where did it all begin?
Daniel Nevitt – Armourcoat actually started life as a manufacturer of specialist racket sports plaster over twenty-five years ago, producing the hard impact plaster back wall for racquet, squash or real tennis courts. The company still holds an 80% global market share in these high quality products, and oversees a network of thirty agents around the world. Whilst the racket sports plaster is now a smaller part of a much broader product portfolio, it created the basis for the exacting technical performance of our finishes we see today.
We concentrate much more now on our decorative wall finishes, with a UK contracting division and a separate network of fifty trained agents representing seventy countries. In addition, we recently created a subsidiary company in Las Vegas to manage the North American market directly, and operate production facilities (for our pre-cast panels) in Las Vegas, Dubai, Moscow and Shenzhen in China.
How do hoteliers and restaurateurs begin the process of selecting a specific finish, it looks very technical to us?
The most important aspect for a good installation is correct substrate preparation. Our finishes are generally a final decorative layer, and therefore will not disguise any bumps, flares or imperfections in the wall surface. However, we offer expert advice and instructions to assist the specifier, and can even manage this process with our ‘AntiCrack’ fibre and resin reinforced gypsum skim-coat plaster, which resists cracking at board joints and significantly improves the impact resistance and durability of drywall construction.
Our core decorative product line is polished (often referred to as ‘Venetian’) and textured plaster finishes. These are applied seamlessly to the wall surface with traditional plastering techniques – with a hawk and trowel.
We also have a range of high performance architectural coatings for back-of-house areas, corridors, kitchens and public areas. In addition, we can create 3D sculptural effects – seamlessly or with an expressed joint – with pre-cast panels.
We offer a wide range of finishes and effects, and again our specification sales team can provide advice on options including large-scale samples, on-site mock-ups and custom colour matching and finishes.
Where are your finishes used in a hospitality setting?
Our finishes are specified throughout the interior of a project, although we generally see polished plaster and our Sculptural 3D wall system used in lobby areas, or feature walls in bars and restaurants.
We are increasingly seeing projects utilizing polished plaster in swimming pool, saunas and spa areas as the finishes are naturally breathable and resistant to mould, algae and bacteria. Armourcoat finishes (in particular Spatulata) have been used to great effect on swimming pool ceilings to provide a seamless monolithic highly polished surface, great for light reflection and creating a spacious and opulent effect.
If one hotel or restaurant in a chain works with you on a project, can the finish then be achieved at other locations?
Absolutely, we currently work with a number of national and international clients to achieve a ‘signature’ decorative finish. This could be a specific colour reference (we can match to Pantone or RAL references) or finish, but increasingly we work with vinyl stencils to create raised or recessed design such as logos or brand designs to give consistency of presentation.
To give an example, we have just started production of 2,000 ‘welcome wall’ panels for Choice Hotels International in America for the Comfort Inn and Comfort Suite brands. These are developed from our ArmourFX modular panels, which are finished in a ‘Travertine’ stone-effect, with raised logo and candle boxes for lighting. The panels are simply hung using Z-clips, to provide fast installation and ease of handling. The clips themselves are hidden by the secured panel with just 5mm build up between back of panel and substrate. Finally, panels can be installed and adjusted laterally and vertically for a perfect fit.
Many companies today use the sustainability tag in their marketing: can you justify your sustainability credentials?
We have been very fortunate to have developed a ‘green’ product from the outset. Our core product lines include Italian pre-consumer recycled marble, using the off-cuts from the slab industry. Rather than heading to landfill, we refine and grade, and use within our plaster recipes – up to 60% depending on the product. Each year we recycle close to 250 tonnes of marble. The products have low or zero VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and are zero fire rated.
When considering lifetime costs, Armourcoat finishes are extremely tough and durable. With the right preparation, the finish should last the life of the building – important when reviewing the cost of repainting or redecorating programmes. Our technical documents provide a wide range of test data to compare against other decorative products for surface hardness and scrub resistance.
As a fairly unique business, where do you recruit your workforce from and/or is there a training programme needed?
This is an artisan craft, and is perfected over many years. In the UK, we have a small team of highly skilled trainers who impart their knowledge and oversee our contract projects. The same team travel the world to work with our international agents on training and on local projects requiring specialist application skills. We also operate an apprenticeship scheme, taking individuals with limited plastering skills but with the right mindset and attitude, to join the training team.
What new product developments are you looking at in the near future
Company founder and Creative Director Duncan MacKellar is the driving force of the Armourcoat business, and is fundamental to the introduction of new products. At the moment, we are close to launch of new plaster finishes and a new external render. We’ll also be developing our use of Lafarge Ductal Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) for some novel applications.
H & C News comment
It’s clear that, in addition to the excellent and widely proven finishes that Armourcoat currently provides, it has new products, finishes and applications in the pipeline. Hotels and restaurants should watch out for their introduction and potential application in their own property.
We so enjoyed looking at all the images we were given to select from we have published more below, we hope you like them as much as we do.
For more information on Armourcoat please contact our friendly team.
Armourcoat Ltd, Morewood Close, London Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 2HU
Tel: 01732 467993