Scrub Cycles: What You Need To Know

What you need to know about scrub cycles

They’re Actually Important

There are a number of things you need to know when you start to work on a new paint project. Your paint’s scrub rating is one of them, and it matters in nearly every situation. There are a lot of misconceptions around scrub cycles and what ingredients are in your paint products.

Download our guide to choosing the right paint product here!

Scrub cycles are based on the American Society for Testing and Materials ASTM D2486 test. This is the agreed upon scrub test in the paint industry. What this scrub rating number means is how many times your paint can be scrubbed before reaching failure (paint coming off the wall with cleaning, etc.).

To do this test a machine scrubs the surface with a brush and an abrasive compound repeatedly and keeps count of how many times the product is scrubbed before failure. It’s pretty boring, but it’s pretty important too.


Scrub cycles are an important factor in choosing the right paint for your project

How They Affect You

What this means to you: the higher the scrub rating of your chosen paint product, the longer it’s lifespan on your walls. If you have a high traffic area, you’re going to want to make sure that product you’re using has a high scrub rating or you can guarantee you’ll be re-painting shortly. Figure out what the lifespan of the project is (or what your client expects in the future) before making a final paint decision. You’ll want to make sure the scrub rating reflects the expectations so nobody is surprised down the road. If you’re going to be applying the product, make sure you buy what was specified instead of flipping it out for something cheaper. It really does matter in the long run.

What Do VOC’s Have To Do With This?

Have you been wondering if VOC’s have anything to do with this? No? Just us? Well, not surprisingly, VOC content does play a role in scrub ratings. Lowering the number of VOCs in your paint products often means lowering your scrub rating. Taking that many ingredients out can weaken the integrity of the paint’s surface. Low VOC’s are great, but weakening the paint ultimately means re-painting and releasing more VOC’s and creating a vicious cycle. Make sure you know which is more important for each job.


Pick the right paint product for your scrub rating needs

How To Choose The Right Product

You’ll have to figure out on a case per case basis what product you need based on scrub cycles. If it’s a low traffic area, you can certainly get away with a low VOC and low scrub rating paint. Steady to high traffic areas will need something a little tougher that can hold up the wear and tear and last for your space’s entire lifespan. Make sure you have a conversation with the client and don’t flip the spec.

Download our guide to choosing the right paint product here

Get Your Scrub Rating Guide

High Traffic Schools Need High Scrub Paints

You probably already know that paint is the simplest and most economical change you can make on an environment. But it’s time to dig a little deeper. How long do you want your design to last? How long does your client want the design to last? This is where high scrub paints come into play.

Check out our checklist on 8 Steps To Choosing A Product For Your School Design!

British International School and Scuffmaster's ScrubTough

Back To School

Since it’s time for school to start, we thought we’d focus in on those school classrooms and hallways in particular. Hundreds of thousands of kids run through schools everyday. Books, bags (maybe even bullies?) can really damage those walls. Scuffs and stains, you name it, those school walls have seen it. So what’s a designer to do to protect their design, meet their client’s expectations and budget, all while creating a beautiful space for learning?

High scrub paint is your answer. Paint CAN hold up to the bullying those high traffic areas have to endure, you just have to make sure you’re picking the RIGHT paint for the project. If you’re choosing a standard eggshell with a scrub rating of 300, the product is going to fail and the client is going to have to repaint. That’s a situation neither parties want to be in. Paints with a scrub rating of at least 3,000 scrubs can transform those busy areas in school and keep them looking nice and tidy, while also being cleanable for years to come. The higher the scrub rating, the more durable the paint. This means that your design will last for many a good washing.

Scuffmaster's High Scrub Finishes

But High Scrub Paint Sounds So Industrial…

It does sound industrial, and a little intimidating. But it’s not! High scrub paints can look like your typical eggshell paint (but it’s secretly going to last forever), but also offer options like unique textures and metallics. Check out what specialty paints offer high scrub ratings and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with your options. Durable paints CAN also be beautiful!

Your Client's Budget Loves High Scrub Paints

Client’s Budget

You may be thinking, “specialty paints are so expensive, my client’s budget doesn’t support that”, but have you figured out how much it costs over its lifespan? Think about it. If you use a cheap paint in your client’s budget, they’re going to spend easily 2x+ repainting their space when that paint doesn’t hold up to the high traffic. A more expensive paint with a high scrub rating will actually SAVE them money over the lifespan of the space.

Competing Products Leave Your Walls Scuffed and Damaged

Competing Products

Right now you might be thinking that epoxy or a vinyl would be a good option for your project. Maybe… but what does the cost of the product over the lifespan of the space come out to? Epoxy and vinyl are more difficult and expensive to install than a high scrub paint, so you’re spending more of your client’s money right off the bat, let alone calculating the product’s lifespan. What is the lifespan compared to a high scrub paint? How much are you spending over the years patching and touching up? These are all things to consider when picking the final product for your school design’s high traffic areas.

 Wow, That’s A Lot To Think About

Not really, we crammed a lot into this post to make sure you’d have all the information you’d need, but in reality it’s pretty simple. Establish your client’s budget, determine what the lifespan of the products should be, research your high scrub rating options, calculate the cost over the products lifespan, then choose your product! Don’t forget to pick just the right color either. Easy.

Check out our checklist below on 8 Steps To Choosing A Product For Your School Design (seriously, it’s free)!

High Scrubs Checklist