Beating the Heat – Heat-Reflective Coatings That Last for Life

Life Specialty Coatings
Written by Allison Dempsey

Now celebrating its third generation of family ownership and customer support in the coatings sector, Life Specialty Coatings boasts decades of knowledge and experience in manufacturing, producing, and distributing a variety of products, stretching back to its origins in 1963.

From oil-based wood sealers that developed into stains and solid color coatings, to waterproof wall coatings, cementitious waterproofing decking systems, epoxies, waterproofing solutions, elastomerics, and concrete resurfacing materials, the company has managed to not only meet industry demands but also set expectations and continually exceed them.

As one of the last remaining family-owned paint and coatings manufacturers in California, Life Specialty Coatings has been a premier manufacturer and leader in high-performance interior and exterior coatings for more than 60 years. The company prides itself on putting its customers first with superior technology, service, training, quality control, and technical support for applicators, general contractors, builders, designers, and architects.

Setting itself apart
“Life Specialty Coatings has differentiated itself from other manufacturers over the years by keeping the ‘family appeal’ aspect of the business, focusing on customer support and fostering teamwork initiatives with its clients,” says Joseph Benson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

The company offers a unique portfolio of distinctive brands that meet the needs and expectations of builders, property managers and contractors in the commercial, industrial, and residential sectors. Affiliated companies and products under the company’s umbrella include Life Deck Specialty Coatings®, Life Paint®, Cool Life®, Americrete®, Stretch-Guard®, Lifetime Plus Coatings of America®, Rain Shield®, and Fire Fighter®; all maintain identical high standards of quality control.

Life Specialty Coatings currently has more than 200 distribution locations across North America, manufactures dozens of private labels, and manages hundreds of coatings formulations that are used on international projects for organizations such as NASA, Boeing, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, the U.S. Government, and many others.

Leading the way
The company has secured a formidable reputation as an industry leader by continuously working to stay ahead of current trends and expertise.

Notably, during Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. Government utilized a special technology to camouflage U.S. tanks and conceal them on the battlefield. Once this technology became public, Life Specialty Coatings was the first privately held firm to commercialize this new heat-reflective acrylic coating that changed the face of the specialty coatings industry. “Life Specialty Coatings has always been at the forefront of technology and R&D,” says Jorge Felix, Marketing Manager.

Additionally, the company was the first in North America to merge this heat-reflective technology with acrylic coating technology to help building owners with energy savings and heat reduction initiatives for residential and municipal projects.

“Life Specialty Coatings has the ability to manipulate and customize this technology to thousands of different colors and product variations for application on walls, roofs, and floors to reflect infrared heat rays and dramatically reduce surface temperature,” says Felix.

Thanks to the energy savings provided by the coatings the company developed, the State of California has several approved financing methods to make the company’s “Cool Life Coatings” a cost-effective alternative to painting home exteriors with standard paint. “This initiative will help save on energy bills by cooling down the building’s exterior and interior and even reduce the urban heat island effect for those who live in city areas,” he says. The heat island effect occurs when structures such as buildings, roads, and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes such as forests and water bodies, according to the EPA. Urban areas, where these structures are highly concentrated and greenery is limited, become “islands” of higher temperatures relative to outlying areas. Heat Reflective Coatings are one way to cool down these hot spots and help with significant energy savings.

A longer lifespan
With Life Specialty Coatings’ products, homes also keep their good looks longer. Homeowners can delay repainting because the company’s IR technology also drastically increases UV resistance and prevents color fade. Ultimately, the home and building owners that use the coating on their property will need to paint less often and will save on their energy bills, says Felix.

“It’s like sunscreen for your building,” adds Benson. “We’ve been manufacturing this product for decades and we’ve seen significant savings for clients that use Cool Life to protect their homes and give greater longevity than regular paint ever will.”

To cool down its playgrounds, the Los Angeles Unified School District—the second largest school district in the United States—recently caught on to the concept and reached out to Life Specialty Coatings to develop a specification for the asphalt blacktops on hundreds of their schools. Cooperating with the Los Angeles Painters Union, LAUSD and Life Specialty Coatings trained hundreds of different applicators and painters to apply the product and thus reduce the heat in schools throughout Southern California.

“By applying the heat-reflective coating, the product helps to reduce ambient temperatures throughout the playgrounds and gathering areas,” Felix explains. “During the summer, this makes such a large temperature difference that students are much more comfortable when faced with summertime temperatures in Los Angeles well above 100 degrees.”

Along with the LAUSD asphalt project, Life Specialty Coatings has been involved in a number of noteworthy restoration initiatives, the most recent being completing product specifications on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, to help restore the ship for tours and design purposes.

The RMS Queen Mary, after sailing for 39 days from Southampton, England to Long Beach, California, landed on December 9, 1967. Taken over by the City of Long Beach, she was converted into a hotel, museum, and popular tourist destination, opening her doors on May 8, 1971 to class field trips, parties, and holiday events. For her restoration, Life Specialty Coatings’ chemical-resistant flooring epoxy and urethane system was used in the industrial kitchens to prevent chemicals, oils, and other contaminants from penetrating the subfloor.

In addition, the company has worked with organizations such as Knott’s Berry Farm and several other amusement parks on waterproof and high-performance protective and decorative coatings.

Prepared for the challenge
Along with its ongoing commercial and industrial success and involvement in many large-scale projects, Life Specialty Coatings has, naturally, experienced its share of challenges over the years. “COVID-19 presented major challenges in our industry as well as many others,” says Benson. “We faced longer than usual delivery times, shortage of delivery vehicles, shortages of certain packaging materials, and the common labor issues that impacted so many industries and countries.”

Fortunately, Life Specialty Coatings had prudent plans, a sort of “saving for a rainy day” attitude already in place for any unexpected force majeure event, which the pandemic turned out to be.

“Our major suppliers and Life Specialty Coatings had contracts in place for supply and demand, guaranteeing that our supply chain would remain full,” says Benson. “Offsetting labor hours and keeping a clean facility helped our labor force to fulfill the demands that our customers placed upon us.”

Facing an increased call for its products during the pandemic, the company was able to continue meeting its customers’ needs without any delays. “We’re very proud of keeping all of our employees working, never running out of product, and continuing a seamless flow of business to our customers,” says Benson.

The company also makes time to give back to its local and regional community whenever possible, and over the years has donated thousands of dollars of material and labor to Kinoshita Elementary School in Southern California to help it rebuild ramps and walkways and provide safe and easy access for teachers, students, and staff.

Generous growth ahead
Looking ahead, Life Specialty Coatings has its eyes on exponential company growth thanks to increasing interest in its coating technology being sparked in multifamily and government applications.

“Our team focuses on adjusting themselves based on customer feedback and always finding new ways to reach a customer,” says Felix. “This has included developing a mobile app to calculate the square footage of product needed for projects, ‘how to’ installation videos, and revamping customer resources.”

Over the years, the company has always taken great satisfaction in prioritizing the needs of its clients by offering excellent service, on-site training, quality assurance, and first-rate technical support via an extensive distribution network across California and the western states, and will continue to make that a priority. Additionally, the longstanding family involvement and dedication have not only contributed to the company’s ongoing success but have also created an atmosphere of inclusion and shared culture that has enveloped employees.

“Ultimately,” says Benson, “Life Specialty Coating provides excellent employee benefits and a collaborative, warm family atmosphere. So we’ve had employees who have been at our company for many decades, and some even over several generations.”



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