In the fall of 2004, British Columbia’s Advanced Light Rail Rapid Transit system, known to area residents as Broadway Station, was cleaned and recoated. The high-solids polysiloxane finish chosen for the job is delivering new standards in performance, aesthetics and safety.

An artist’s rendering of Vancouver’s Broadway Station.

Nearly 130,000 people living in Vancouver depend on British Columbia’s Advanced Light Rail Rapid Transit system to transport them to work each day. Known to area residents as Broadway Station, the 18-year-old facility operates 20 hours per day, transporting residents throughout the greater Vancouver area.

Cleaning and recoating the aging 30,000 ft2suspended station would be a challenge under any circumstance. But in the fall of 2004, this would prove especially true. The massive undertaking would have to be done during operating hours, without interrupting train schedules or putting the public’s health and safety at risk.

Each work area was shrink-wrapped to partition the public from work crews.

Finding the "Right Stuff"

The station’s owner, Sky Train, consulted with coatings supplier Bill Gemmill, vice president of sales for Cam Coat Industries, to discuss safety issues and potential alternatives to epoxy and polyurethane finishes that contain harmful isocyanates. A long-time distributor of International Paint products, Gemmill recommended using Interseal epoxy primer and full coat, and Interfine 878, the company’s new thin-film, high-solids polysiloxane finish.

“As health and safety issues continue to be top-of-mind with commercial facility owners, the need for products that can meet VOC [volatile organic compound] regulations, without compromising product performance, is crucial,” said Gemmill. “When a product like Interfine 878 can deliver safety, superior performance and a 25% longer lifetime, it sets a new standard for the entire industry.”

Gemmill worked with painting contractor, Clara Industrial Services Ltd., to ensure that health and safety standards were met. This was the 10th station in Sky Train’s line for which the contractor would perform cleaning and recoating services, and perhaps one of the most challenging. An elaborate scaffolding system was erected that soared 60 ft high and stretched 70 ft wide and down the platform’s 280-ft length.

Sky Train specified that each work area be meticulously shrink-wrapped to partition the public from work crews. For nearly three months, two six-man painting crews worked around the clock to complete the cleaning and recoating. In all, nearly 500 gallons of the epoxy primer and 250 gallons of the polysiloxane topcoat were used.

Aesthetics and Safety

According to Mark MacKave, manager of operations at Clara Industrial Services, selecting the right protective finish was critical because it had to provide more than safety and aesthetics. It would need to be versatile enough to adhere well in cool, damp temperatures, while handling complex applications to the steel tubing, beams and screen configurations that make up the station.

“The painting crews were impressed with Interfine 878 because of its remarkable ease of application whether being applied by roll, brush or spray,“ said MacKave. “It gave consistently smooth coverage on surfaces and held especially well on edges.”

MacKave further said that because the finish is isocyanate-free, it did not require the use of any additional safety equipment or special gear outside of the air-fed respirator hoods normally used in the industry. In addition, the workers and the public were not exposed to the harmful components contained in most conventional urethanes.

Figure 1. The high-solids acrylic polysiloxane finish outperformed a standard epoxy polysiloxane and urethane in a three-year QUV A gloss retention test.

Results That Make the Grade

Obtaining approval on inspections is always a concern on large public projects, and Broadway Station was no exception. Veteran inspector Bob Humble of ProCo Inspections Ltd. has been providing consultation and inspection services to Sky Train for nearly 12 years. With a career background as a specifier, Humble is no stranger to protective coatings and their various performance characteristics.

“Over the last 10 years, I’ve seen other companies try to produce isocyanate-free finishes. The trouble was, they never performed well. What’s so impressive about Interfine 878 is that the lab data actually matched what I saw in the field,” said Humble.

For example, Humble notes that the coating’s sag resistance and flexibility were immediately visible, as was the finish’s ability to cover surfaces and edges evenly, without pinholing. He believes that these attributes, along with its superior gloss and color retention (see Figure 1), now provide the industry with a product that can outperform anything else currently on the market.

The project’s success has now secured International Paint as the coatings supplier for two more stations in the Sky Train station line.

For more information about the epoxy primer or polysiloxane finish, call 800.525.6824 or visit