The Advent of Waterborne Paints

Waterborne Finishes – How to Use them

Oil-based paints have been the primary paint selection for decades.  But with new chemistry and technology, waterborne paints and coats are gaining popularity over them. As the name suggests, waterborne coatings contain almost 80% water, making water the dominant solvent.  A few decades ago, only a handful of companies manufactured waterborne paint, keeping the options and availability limited.  But with their growing popularity, there has been a significant rise in options of water borne coatings available in the market.

Waterborne finishes have several benefits over traditional oil-based coatings.  The most highlighted benefits are:

  • Waterborne finishes are environment-friendly.
  • Waterborne finishes build faster, requiring less number of coats.
  • Drying time is less.
  • As amount of chemical solvents is less, keeping these coatings nonflammable.
  • Durability and resistance to scratches.
  • As they age, water-based finishes do not yellow unlike other finishes.

Though waterborne finishes have several benefits, industrial surfaces can discourage these benefits only if the paint is applied properly. If waterborne finishes are applied in the same manner as oil paints, the results and finish will be lacking in quality. Oil based finishes remain wet longer.  The benefit is that the painter has a greater window of opportunity to even out the coats, reducing brush marks, which will give the coat a seamless and smooth finish.

Because waterborne finishes dry faster, they “tack” up more quickly.  This tackiness is less forgiving, as any paint strokes applied will leave indentations and grooves within the coat.   If touch ups are required while the coat is tacky, then more paint will be required.  These coatings need to be applied liberally to make sure the adhesion is good between the top coat and the  primer. The better the adhesion, the less likely the coat will sag or run.  With a thicker coat of paint, it is easier to achieve a smooth finish. And because waterborne finishes are thicker, they have a higher tolerance to abrasion, scratches and other forms of abuse.

When considering waterborne paint and coatings for industrial surfaces, special attention needs to be paid to surface preparation and details involved in the painting process. Although minute, these details are very influential in the longevity of a coat of paint.