Sto Tint Training Ensures Color Quality

Storage and handling of colorant and maintaining dispensers and jet mixers ensures superior Sto color product.

The professionals at Sto take color very seriously as demonstrated in our recent series on color.  From Sto Studio to the Sto Color Lab, the company’s commitment to refined design is clearly demonstrated by the many resources it devotes to the art and science of color.

In addition to learning color theory at the Sto Tint School and how to best help customers realize their color requirements, Sto employees are also trained in tint product care and storage. Colorant, for instance, should be stored in a warm space — 65 degrees is the minimum – and automated dispensers should have a ceramic space heater with a thermostat blowing inside the cabinet to ensure the proper care and storage of colorant. Mixing colorant correctly is as critical as its storage, and is also an important part of employee training, as are equipment use and maintenance.

Basic dispenser and jet mixer instruction at the Sto Tint School includes calibration guidelines. Calibration is an important, but simple test to ensure a machine is dispensing colorant at an acceptable level of accuracy. Sto recommends using a digital cigar-box style pocket scale to calibrate properly.

The Sto color tech experts, recommend calibration twice a year, or any time you suspect one or more canisters has become unreliable. They even offer a video on tinting equipment calibration — one of many demonstration videos in the Sto website video gallery. The Machine Technology section of the video gallery offers clips on mixing and storing color product, as well as basic maintenance such as changing a seal on a tinting machine.

Sto produces world class color finishes and coatings, but handling these products properly and understanding them turns these superior quality color products into exceptional works of beauty that manifest technological prowess in the built environment.

The Sto Tint School – Color 101

The Sto Tint School trains Sto employees and distributors to be experts in the world of color in order to provide exemplary customer support for Sto's coatings and finishes.

In addition to the Sto Studio design services and the Sto Color Lab which we’ve described in previous blogs, the Sto Tint School is yet another asset that helps differentiate Sto Corp. in the building materials marketplace today.  At Sto, consistent material selection and consistent formulation results in consistent color and a superior product; at the Sto Tint School they strive to ensure quality customer service to support the tinted product.

At the Tint School in Atlanta, Sto employees and distributors are trained to be coating and finish specialists. There, they are schooled in the art and science of color, including an overview of color theory. This includes a primer on hue, chroma, and lightness (the attributes of every color) and an introduction to color creation based on the color wheel with its three primary colors of red, yellow and blue.

Students learn the elementary basics of color: Colors next to each other on the color wheel are referred to as harmonious; colors directly across from each other on the wheel (such as red and green) are called complementary. Mix two primary colors and you get a secondary color (red & yellow = orange; blue & yellow=green); mix a primary and a secondary color, you get what’s called an “intermediate” color.

The school also provides a primer on colorant — teaching, for instance, the differences between inorganic and organic colorant.

Inorganic Colorant

  • Excellent light fastness characteristics
  • Large particle size, tends to be opaque
  • Lower tinting strength
  • Lower cost per pound
  • Generally low in chromaticity

Organic Colorant

  • May “fade” sooner than a color produced exclusively with inorganic colorants
  • Is dye-like with smaller particle size and tends to be transparent
  • Higher tinting strength
  • Higher cost per pound
  • Tends to be bright, high in chroma

Made from raw materials and carefully tested before being distributed, Sto colorant is optimally formulated for use in water-based products and is generally stronger than other colorants used in the coatings market. A high-quality colorant is utilized for exterior use where UV resistance is required.

Tint School students learn that if a color needs to be a shade darker, you don’t add black; you add all the colorants in the formula in equal proportions. They learn the importance of matching a color standard, and that to do so they need to provide a clean color chart sample versus a popsicle stick dipped in material or paint smeared thinly on a piece of cardboard. They learn that appearance characteristics such as gloss, texture, and sheen make a color “look” different and that these characteristics cannot be altered with colorant.

Sto Tint School graduates become color experts who can tackle any issue involving color, providing smart, educated guidance to their partners in the building profession. It’s about understanding color and Sto’s products, but it’s also about the equipment and production of these products. So next week we’ll be discussing basic dispenser/jet mixer maintenance and calibration, and other important topics also covered at the Tint School.

The World of Chroma & Hue at Sto’s Color Lab

Sto's Color Lab makes the world of chroma and hue go round...including the Sto800 color collection system which is a go-to resource for those specifying color in the built environment.

In a quiet, light industrial neighborhood in Rutland, Vermont, on a tree-lined street named Quality Lane, there is a lot of good color activity going on; dare we say a lot of “quality color”.

This is the U.S. home for the StoColor 800 – a collection of 800 colors formulated to match the range of human visual perception. First released in 2002, this color system remains a valuable resource for those planning the use of color in architecture. But it doesn’t stop there. The Sto Color Lab turns out, on average, 70 fresh color variations and 100 samples a day.

Sto’s Color Lab in Vermont is a critical component in the company’s production of superior coatings and finishes. They offer what is in effect a color customization service, responding to requests from designers, architects, contractors and applicators seeking to match a particular shade that can be derived from the StoColor 800.

The Sto color formulations begin at a color computer there. A physical sample, or perhaps a color chart, is measured using a spectrophotometer. With the specific color target (standard) established, the color computer then uses previously stored colorant and product data to establish a new color formula. This initial formula is called a “starting point”. Once the color formula is approved, it is entered into the Sto color database where it “locked in” as a new standard for future use.

Color Representation: The Real World

The Sto Corp. Color Lab strives to produce the best possible match every time it develops a color formula in order to deliver ideal color representation.  This means that after all the inherent variables are factored in, the final color will closely match what was ordered. This can be tricky business, because color by nature is very subjective.  One person’s perfect match is another’s unacceptable hue.

Everyone sees color a bit differently.  Some people can have limited perception in certain color ranges; some might be completely color-blind. Color blindness, for example, is more prevalent in men than women. Color perception can also deteriorate as the lenses in our eyes begins to yellow with age.

The receptors in our eyes (or rods) that distinguish light and dark are 1500 times more sensitive than the receptors for color or hue (cones). That means when comparing a sample against a standard in the Color Lab, the easiest thing to distinguish is whether it is too light or too dark.

Once the color sample leaves Vermont, there are many other known variables that can impact the appearance of a color and can contribute to perceived color issues including:

  • Application technique
  • Substrate
  • Drying conditions
  • Angles/shadow
  • Colorant integrity
  • Texture
  • Gloss and sheen
  • Age/weathering
  • Light source
  • Dispensing machine accuracy

When a color matches under one light source and not another, it is a called a Metameric Match. Metamerism occurs when two objects display different spectral reflectance curves.  Different spectral reflectance curves are typical when the two objects being compared have a different chemical composition, i.e. they are derived from different colorants. This means a color can look good under daylight when compared to the standard but look totally different under another light source such as fluorescents.

Fortunately, Sto representatives are well-trained and well-versed in addressing these issues. They also understand that “hue” is the color perception that allows an object to be judged red, blue, yellow, purple, and that “chroma” is an attribute of color perception that expresses the degree of departure from gray of the same lightness (sometimes referred to as saturation or density).

The result is a lot of beautiful color for clients and achieving “just the right match” for the color requested.

Join us next week when we visit the Sto Tint School.

The Art and Science of Color

Color has become big business; and at Sto, the science and technology of color have been perfected over decades to create coatings and finishes that offer both form and function in the built environment.

With spring blooms beginning to burst forth from the grey, white and neutral tone of winter months, we are reminded once again of the significance of color in our world.  In fact, the right color can be worth a lot of money — in fashion, interior and exterior design, in advertising, and yes, even in building materials.

Color has become big business; the psychology of color is now well-documented, and the science and technology of color have been perfected over time. But then, as the famous painter Claude Monet said: “Color is my day long obsession, joy, and torment.” Color design truly is an art form and has become a defining quality that can seemingly make or break a business, whether it’s the “right” blue in Google’s ad links, the latest designer fashions, a building’s curb appeal or the wall color on a company’s entrance.

Since the Pantone company introduced its first “Color of the Year” in 1999, the mysterious art and business of color forecasting has been elevated to a competitive level on a global scale. That first color of the year was a cerulean blue, and it launched countless projects and generated millions of dollars, as recounted in The New York Times.


The experts from The Pantone Color Institute declared 2018 to be the year of Ultra Violet, saying that # 18-3838 was “a dramatically thoughtful purple shade that communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking.”

Experts continue to forecast color trends years in advance (What will resonate with consumers for instance in the Spring of 2019: brights or neutrals, jewel tones or pastels?) and while color forecasting is an interesting (and lucrative!) practice, it can be arguably subjective and somewhat suspect. However, the theory and basics of color are not, nor is the science of color, which Sto has been perfecting for decades. Color technology is grounded in far more than mere prognostication, and the science of color is where Sto excels.

The Sto School of Color

Sto has been a leader in providing high-performance color systems, with a colorant scheme that offers form and function, which means it offers an unlimited spectrum of colors and aesthetics, along with durability, and safety. It starts with the design gurus in Sto Studio, a team of color professionals who are inspired by color and art in architecture, and who know the science of color mixology, but also the gestalt and psychology of color.

Then there is the Sto Corp Tint School – a training lab for sales reps, distributors, applicators and other contractors — and the professional Sto Color Lab in Vermont that turns out, on average, 70 new color formulas and 100 samples a day. With all these resources, Sto has a corner on mastering the art, science and psychology of color in coatings and finishes.

In 1965, Sto introduced a revolutionary color system and has been building upon that first offering since then. The StoColor 800 — a collection of 800 colors formulated to match the range of human visual perception — was released in 2002, and remains a favorite go-to resource for those in the architecture, engineering and construction sectors.

StoColor 800 Collection

The StoColor 800 Collection is based on an understanding of the complete range of human color perception. The related StoColor System is a unique tool for planning the use of color in architecture.

Sto colored coatings and finishes are not only beautiful, but they meet the strictest test standards for measuring accelerated weathering and UV fade resistance.  There is zero-variability with Sto coatings and finishes, and optimized tint loads for better results. A proprietary cloud-based system provides access to more than three million color formulas. Sto is expert at color, but also understands the importance and value of a coating or finish that is sustainable and satisfies the goals of the design and building community, for both new or restored building projects.

Join us over the next several weeks as we delve into the vast and wonderful world of color. We’ll be doing a primer on color (the difference between the critical attributes of light, hue and chroma, and how DO you tone down the shade of a color?), as well as providing insights into what makes a colored coating or finish product durable. We’ll look at the variables that contribute to perceived color problems, complaints, and costs such as application techniques, substrates, lighting conditions and even the human eye. What are the guidelines mixing and storing colorants or for dispenser and jet mixer maintenance and calibration checks? What is a metrameric match, and what is the difference between organic and non-organic color?

The trending colors for Spring fashion, may not directly apply to the color trends in coatings and finishes used in architectural design, but clearly, color is a powerful influence on many fronts, including exterior and interior building design. Building material industry leaders such as Sto are on the forefront of this brave, new (and dare we say) colorful world of the built environment.

Biophilic Design in Architecture for Health & Tranquility

Biophilic architectural design which is harmonious with nature has proven to enhance the health and wellness of those living and working in such spaces.

There is feng shui, and there are meditation decks, white noise fountains, serenity pools, soft lights and harmonious neutral colors to create a peaceful haven in your home. And — there is biophilic design in architecture.  It’s all intended to optimize your life by creating a healthier, less stressful living space.

According to a recent post in Houzz, while biophilic design has been around for a long while (Frank Lloyd Wright often incorporated it into his architecture) it is experiencing a resurgence with today’s architects.  Biophilia literally translates as ‘love of life’. Examples of biophilic design date back to ancient civilizations, but it wasn’t until the 1980s, that the terminology evolved thanks to American biologist E. O. Wilson who proposed that evolution has soft-wired us to prefer natural settings over built environments. In Wilson’s words, we have “an innate and genetically determined affinity … with the natural world”. Proponents of biophilic design are attempting to satisfy this instinct architecturally.

Frank Lloyd Wright was an advocate of biophilia. “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you,” he advised, and many of his buildings bear this out. Notably, his game-changing creation Fallingwater (pictured above) is so integrated with nature as to be inseparable.

Essential to biophilic theory is the idea that buildings aid our physical and mental health only when they are designed holistically and in tandem with nature. Green building principles emphasize responsibility to the environment and efficient use of sustainable resources, and while biophilic design embraces these aims, it focuses more on the wellbeing of the people who use the spaces.

Today, the concept of biophilia is supported by a more scientific understanding of the psychology behind building-based wellness. Some pundits believe that the inordinate amount of time we spend in built environments may contribute significantly to feelings of isolation, tension and lethargy. So, there is a growing interest in designing restorative, productive and appealing buildings that better engage with nature and are more biophilic in nature.

Some of the components of biophilic design include:

  • Natural light from windows, skylights, walls of glass
  • Exterior views; psychologists claim that people with views have a healthier outlook on life, because there is more dimension to their perspective and a sense of connection to a wider ecosystem
  • Water features such as fountains and ponds that can be seen, heard and touched
  • Sensory stimuli that reference nature: scented plants, plants that change color seasonally; open flames; tactile materials and natural fibers that reflect local ecology such as stone and timber

In a concrete, urban jungle — In the absence of real natural environments — biomimicry can be a source of biophilic design as found in organic shapes in construction and furniture. If you stop to think, geometric shapes are rarely found in nature. Color schemes derived from nature – earthen and green, water and sky tones, even images of nature, including photographs, art, murals, and sculptures, can create a biophilic effect.

An undulating, cedar-clad ceiling for instance is, as one architect noted, “the antithesis of the ubiquitous flat, white plasterboard ceiling” and is replicating more environmental shapes and forms. A buffer of green landscaping in a causeway to the street enables connection and interaction with nature for occupants and passers-by. A central courtyard allows visual connection with other areas of a structure and creates a thermal ‘lung’ for natural cooling and heating. The results are living spaces that comfort the body as naturally and effectively as they do the soul. And that’s what a biophilic environment should do.

Zen principles which are often applied in design are attempting to do the same, reflecting balance, harmony and relaxation. Despite all of our modern conveniences today, well-being and contentment often evade us, and it may just be that our home and work environments have an influence. Bring on the biophilic and namaste all around.

Sto Studio Delivers Color and Design Concepts with Impact

Third in a three-part series on Sto Studio

Sto Studio has been providing tailor-made color digital models and illustrations of design and material options for facades and interiors for over three decades now.  Working closely with clients, specific architectural and aesthetic concepts are developed based on aproject’s underlying requirements, conditions and objectives. The final result is a series of color renderings to help the client determine the most appealing aesthetic choice. The following are examples of Sto Studio’s art in architecture in a range of residential and commercial projects – including both restoration and new construction.

The Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale was one of many Sto Studio projects for this hotel operator who is rebranding and upgrading the exterior of its properties.

The Embassy Suites Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida was another signature Sto Studio project in the hospitality sector. Sto Studio provided a big assist with a substantial shift in the exterior color palette from a predominantly canary yellow shade to one that was more understated and elegant.  This was the fourth Embassy Suites property that Sto Studio consulted on in 2016, and more are expected as the brand continues to refine its identity.

Restoration of Doubletree Hotel in Bay City, Michigan

Built in 2004, this 550-room property was slated for a much-needed facelift. Sto Studio provided color and design scenarios based on a sequence of requests made by on-site personnel, the owner group, contractor and our Sto distribution partner. By offering a range of options, the eyes of decision-makers were opened to possibilities they had not previously considered, and they were ultimately able to determine the ideal solution.

Seventy-thousand square feet of StoColor® Lotusan® was ultimately used to ensure optimal performance and lasting beauty. The project managers evaluated several vendors and were impressed with the alternatives presented by Sto Studio, which emphasized the contrasts between various colors. The chosen color scheme was less tone-on-tone, with a more deliberate contrast between surfaces, allowing for enhanced curb appeal and an opportunity to celebrate the building’s form.

StoStudio View of a sample color scheme for the Camby Hotel in Phoenix.

Residential Restoration Upgrades Exterior

A single family, 6000 square foot residence in Portland, Michigan required remediation related to a failing wood-siding exterior.  With local experts available to consult with the owners, a solution was quickly identified: StoQuik® Silver. To support this decision, Sto Studio was contracted to illustrate color options incorporating the existing aesthetics. Two thousand square feet of this new Sto system was installed, ensuring the ongoing comfort of the owners, and improved performance of the exterior wall.

Aesthetic Opportunities with New Construction

Sto Canada has been pushing the (building) envelope with Sto Panel Technology and reached out to Sto Studio to illustrate options for a new development in St. Catherines, Ontario.  The project architect, Sto Panel affiliate [SkyRise], the general contractor and owner all funneled information to Sto Studio where it was distilled and cross-referenced to help generate a series of color and design renderings.  Understanding the aspirations of the development team and translating that into design deliverables proved an invaluable decision-making tool.