Notes on Nature: New line of printed coatings for metal sheet mimic wood, stone and more

Above: Emulate is available in three Sherwin-Williams technologies, which can be specified for
applications like highrise or commercial. 


April, 2024- From burl to barn board and from travertine to terrazzo, a new line of curated coatings with 30 colorways and three collections mimics the look of natural building materials. Launched in February 2024, Emulate is the latest collection from the Coil Coatings division of SherwinWilliams for product and design professionals.

“We were seeing both an appreciation for natural materials and a movement toward sustainability happening in the market,” reports Kiki Redhead, global color materials finish and trend manager for the company. “We wanted to achieve the look and feel of natural materials while delivering the performance and durability of metal coatings.”


Emulate is the result of market research and product development. “We started with an analysis of today’s market needs. We explored what customers are looking for across segments and incorporated forwardthinking concepts,” explains Brynn Wildenauer, architectural color designer for Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings. Much of this research was
amassed at the Sherwin-Williams DesignHouse in Minneapolis and augmented by field trips across the country.

“We had boots on the ground visiting material facilities and examining trends in wood grain and stone veining patterns. This allowed us to understand the regional impact of building products,” says Redhead.

This research included exploring various design styles from the Victorian era to mid-century modern. “We looked at the past and what’s trending now to predict how materials will evolve in the future. Emulate is designed to be long performing so our patterns and colorways need to stand the test of time,” explains Redhead.

Emulate includes thoughtful colorways and combinations that are prepackaged into appearances to inspire architects and builders. Some of the patterns are new, while others are updates of classics.


Market design trends influence the aesthetics of Emulate while sustainability plays an important role in consumer acceptance. Metal building products can extend longevity, enhance durability and reduce maintenance on certain applications. “Using metal instead of wood or stone also means we are working with a product that is made from
recycled metal and can be recycled/reused at end of life,” states Redhead. Wildenauer cites another key benefit: “Architects can achieve the desired look of copper or marble, but in a more cost-effective way.” The coatings used to produce the Emulate patterns are engineered for weathering and longevity, enabling coil-coated prints to maintain their visual appeal and structural integrity for years, claims Wildenauer. “Additionally, prepainted metal, depending on the substrate and gauge, can be light weight, easy to handle and can be roll formed into a variety of shapes and sizes making it an ideal construction material where stone or brick may not be as suitable,” adds Redhead.

Emulate features three collections: wood, stone and metal. The wood collection includes barnboard, inspired by a trend toward updated rural living spaces.


Emulate relies upon a rotogravure printing process to apply the desired looks of nature to metal. Rotogravure printing, or gravure for short, features a rotary printing press, applying ink directly to the coil using a metal plate and printing cylinder that rotates in an ink pan. “This method can use a combination of base coat, ink(s) and top or clear coats.There is an art to creating repeating patterns that are random and natural-looking, balanced with consistency for production,” says Redhead.

Emulate includes three collections: wood, stone and metal. Wood includes families of oak, walnut, burl and barn board. A series of marble, travertine, concrete and terrazzo patterns comprise the stone category. Metal taps into treatments like leaf (a perforated style), weathered (with various patinas), burnished (developed through reverse engineering) and hammered.

Residential applications are also suitable for Emulate products that can be packaged together in
multiple combinations of patterns and colorways to mimic natural building materials like wood
and concrete.

Emulate is available in three technologies offered by Sherwin-Williams: Fluropon, WeatherXL and PolyPremier. Fluropon meets the most rigorous specifications and weathering protection. A polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) resin coating, Fluropon meets AAMA 2605 requirements and is frequently applied to commercial, high-rise and monumental
projects. A silicone-modified polyester (SMP), WeatherXL meets AAMA 2604 requirements and is suitable for agricultural and residential projects. PolyPremier, using a polyester formula, is designed for trims and gutters and meets AAMA 2603 requirements.

Performance and weatherability of Emulate vary depending on a number of factors including application, geographic area and AAMA requirements.


“During our research, we spoke with builders about their ‘barndominium’ concept. This helped inspire the barn board pattern,” reports Wildenauer. “Weathered metal can complement an urban environment when utilized on a multifamily building. Interior applications can be elevated with the sleek sophistication of a marble look. Monumental structures’ curb appeal can be elevated utilizing the metal accents from Emulate.”

Sherwin-Williams representatives are prepared to talk with architects, coil coaters, fabricators and installers about unique patterns and colorways. “The Emulate marketing materials are inspiration to help customers see the opportunities. There is a ton of customization we can create from Emulate,” Wildenauer says. For example, Sherwin-Williams will work with coil coaters “to create a specific color or add a pattern, creating an opportunity for coaters to differentiate themselves and their stock options/color card,” she says.

Sherwin-Williams DesignHouse, 888/306-2645,

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