By Jennifer Perez, SchoolFacilities.com

Like so many other small school districts nationwide, Indiana’s School Town of Highland district is pressed for funding and inundated with repairs. So any renovations better be reasonable in every sense of the word.

“Schools today cannot afford to spend any wasted dollars, especially smaller districts,” said Ken Woolf, President of ProCoat Products, Inc. and a registered engineer. “So, although ceilings represent a major area percentage-wise in schools they are often the first thing to be neglected, simply because of the time and money it takes to repair or replace them.”

At School Town of Highland, this was the case. The 2’ x 2’ stone-faced ceiling tiles throughout the 3,200-student district were discolored and dirty – so badly they were not dispersing light effectively in many areas. But replacing the ceiling had been avoided for years not only due to cost, but availability of matching materials and inconvenience. Out of desperation, School Town turned to paint.

“The tiles we had were obsolete, so we really didn’t think we had another choice,” said Michael Boskovich, Director of Special Services for the School Town of Highland.
“Like most schools, we tried the paint, but it was a mess. It reminded me of painting a car with a brush.”

At Highland High School’s cafeteria, the problem was particularly bad. The ceilings were so dirty, even blowing them out wasn’t working, said Boskovich. And even an expensive peroxide cleaning treatment didn’t last.

Boskovich was desperate when he found ProCoat at a Tradeshow in Chicago. The company’s president offered him a spray can sample of its ProCoustic pigmented acoustical coating and Boskovich tried it as soon as he got back to school.

“Within seconds, I thought ‘This stuff is great,’ said Boskovich. ‘It gets in the grooves and everything!’”

Instant Gratification

Procoat’s ProCoustic is a non-toxic specialty coating designed to restore structurally sound ceiling surfaces. It is a perfect option for schools that can’t afford replacement and don’t want to lose their acoustical value and fire retarding by painting or chemically treating.

The main benefit over painting is that grids (t-bars), air diffusers, and speaker plates can all be coated at once, giving the entire ceiling a completely new appearance. It has the same aesthetical benefits of paint in that it can also be tinted to pastel colors or formulated to deeper tones. The fire-retardant product comes in 5- and 1-gallon containers. In addition to stone-faced and conventional ceiling tiles, ProCoustic can be applied to popcorn, textured, plaster and other acoustical ceiling surfaces.

After learning more about it, Boskovich decided to give ProCoustic a try. Over the phone, Woolf helped him decide how much material he would need and talked him through the entire process. A review of ProCoat’s website also provided answers to many common questions.

“Like so many small school facility managers, he was concerned that this was a job too big for his own maintenance staff,” said Woolf. “For obvious reasons, he couldn’t afford to get halfway through and realize he was in over his head.”

But Woolf assured Boskovich, the job would not only be simple, it would be fast.

With ProCoustic, large ceiling areas can be restored in short periods of time, typically overnight – even by a school’s own crew. This process is ideal for occupied spaces where the renovation work is limited to nights and weekends or for schools on year-round schedules that cannot afford to disrupt class time.

Boskovich purchased enough ProCoustic for two 1,000-square-foot cafeterias – as well as an extension pole and sprayer for reaching the buildings’ 10-foot high ceilings. In addition, he purchased ProCoat’s Acoustical Tile Restorer as a preventative maintenance solution for other classrooms and buildings within the district.

This unique one-step product presents the ideal, cost-effective solution to water stains, fingerprints, and dirt smudges that typically lead to costly tile replacement. Available in white, ultra-white and eggshell aerosol spray cans, it makes preventative maintenance of acoustical ceilings not only possible, but simple and convenient.

“Every ceiling, no matter how new, will accumulate soot around air-diffusers and develop water stains,” said Woolf. “Proper treatment of these blemishes extends the life of a ceiling, safeguards the original investment, and avoids more solid waste disposal.”

It didn’t take long for Boskovich to learn that ProCoat was the right choice. It took two maintenance employees two days to complete a 1,000-square-foot cafeteria, said Boskovich. And everyone – including the workers and the school’s principal – was impressed.

“When they were done, it looked better than a new ceiling,” said Boskovich. “The lighting was more reflective and the overall appearance was unbelievable.”

Sound Investment

But the true sell was just how little time and energy the process took. Boskovich said his two-man team spent just one shift masking and another spraying – and additional costs were minimal. They expect to be even more efficient the next job they do.

“I think we spent $140 on supplies and $.10 per tile for the ProCoustic,” he said. “I’d say those are pretty low costs for such a big payoff.”

But an even greater savings came in what was not spent. Because there was no demolition, there were no disposal costs, and more importantly, there was no impact on the environment.

“Because the ceiling was saved, no non-biodegradable materials were dumped into our already overcrowded landfills,” said Woolf. “That is a savings you can’t put a dollar figure on.”

Another immeasurable value was its impact on School Town students. Because ProCoustic allows schools to maintain their fire protection and acoustic performance, while at the same time improving lighting reflectivity, the benefits will be felt for years by those who matter most, Woolf said.

“That is what it is all about… providing the best possible educational environment for students,” he said. “That is what we should all be working together toward in the end.”

For more information about ProCoustic and other ProCoat products, call (714) 279-7933 or visit ProCoat on the web at www.SchoolFacilities.com and use search word ProCoat in the product search field.