Sustainable coatings

Sustainable coatings

Make products durable using sustainable coatings

When it comes to coatings, the product durability is one of the first thing we consider. The durability is directly linked to environmental sustainability of the products due to the fact that long lasting products reduce the need to re-coat surfaces.  This consequently leads to cutting down waste and reducing the demand for  resources. Additionally, more and more sustainable coatings are constantly developed.

Paints and other coatings are chemical products, and some of them contain heavy metals, formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOC) which are harmful for humans and environment. Sometimes the use of these compounds however, guarantee long lasting paint jobs that do not require replacing. This means thus that even the VOC containing coatings can be sustainable.

Natural and eco-paints without VOC

Sustainable coatings

Sustainable coatings are durable and concerned with the environmental wellbeing.

The VOC values of coatings have been under the loop of governments and regulatory agencies, resulting in restrictions of the values. This encourages production of waterborne, thus solvent free, coatings which have low to zero VOC value. Some companies such as earthBorne take environmentally friendly coatings to the next level by using only natural ingredients in their products. Also other paint manufacturers including Auro, Benjamin Moore and Natural Earth Paint. These coatings are also allergy friendly due to the fact that they do not contain harmful chemicals and do not release toxic gases.

Remember that coatings still are chemical products and should be appropriately disposed!

Purpose, structure and production of sustainable coatings

New integral processes ensure durability in the production of paints and coatings. Suppliers call the following three factors the most important during production:

  • Purpose – for what purpose is the coating being produced? (recycling paint is getting more important)
  • Structure of paint or coating (the use of chemicals from non-renewable resources)
  • Production process (efficacy, meeting rules and regulations, lowering impact on the environment)

Examples of innovative and durable coatings

  • nano coatings
  • hydrophobic coatings
  • products of heavy duty protection
  • anti-corrosive coatings
  • durable wall and roof coatings (on water basis)
  • anti-graffiti coatings
  • bio-based coatings (coatings made of bio materials, majority of paints and coatings should be made of bio-materials by 2030)

Coating matters

One should never overlook the importance of choosing the right coating. A coating is not only about colour and gloss but also about protection and functional properties depending on the application. Once the coating is chosen, the application must be planned to guarantee a flawless and durable coating layer. A successful coating is a sum of many factors. If one of the factors fails, the whole coating system may fail, which often leads to additional costs such as:

  • Removing coating
  • Surface reparation
  • Re-application

Naturally all these activities cost time, and time is money, as we know. Therefore, choosing the right coating at the first time, is likely to spare you from headache.

New life for leftover paint; recycling coating & paint

Consumers understand that for example old shoes and clothes still have value and recycling them is possible. One might not believe it, but the same counts for paint, too. Paint recycling has been going on already for a while in the UK;  Encouraging businesses and consumers to donate their leftover paint for remanufacturing, giving the leftovers a new life.

Initiative to paint recycling from the BCF

In the UK the annual amount of leftover decorative paint is approximately 55 million litres. Only 2% of this paint is given for remanufacturing. The British Coatings Federation has ambitious goal to increase the amount of remanufactured leftover paint to 50% in cooperation with paint manufacturers and other stakeholders. The  BCF has also a website PaintCare which focuses on paint recycling.

Paint is a chemical product available in certain volumes. It often happens, that there is too much paint which leads to leftover paint. Paint may contain chemicals harmful for the environment; therefore, they should be appropriately disposed. However, often the paint rests stay in storage due to lack of awareness of getting rid of leftover paint. The British coating federation aims at informing businesses and consumers about proper paint disposal and providing opportunities to recycle paint. The main goal is to create a circular economy for leftover decorative paint in the UK.

Akzo Nobel supports paint recycling in the UK

Akzo Nobel paint

AkzoNobel supports sustainability in paints by recycling.

Akzo Nobel is one of the leading decorative paint manufacturers in the UK and they are involved in leftover paint processing in the country already for more than 20 years. In 2015, Akzo Nobel launched the ReColour initiative to further support re-using leftover paint. One of the key participants of ReColour is Community RePaint which consists of a network of more than 70 paint recycling undertakings who collect surplus and leftover paint to distribute to the parties in need. In 2015, the undertakings resulted in 300,000 litres of distributed leftover paint benefiting nearly 32,000 individuals and 2,500 organisations.

Akzo Nobel together with Community RePaint has so far opened two non-profit paint recycling centres in the UK. In those centres they produce an affordable recycled product line RePaint. The production is possible in large quantities and it complies to the quality standards of the collected leftover paint.

Akzo Nobel sets an ambitious goal to bring colour to a million lives by 2020. This initiative encourages many refurbishments projects in the UK and also supports programmes for young people such as Outward Bound Trust and CRASH.

Choosing the right coating

When choosing a coating, it is important to pick the right one. The wrong choice may turn out to be a costly mistake leading to coating removal and reapplication. In the worst case the wrong, bad quality coating may even damage the substrate and create additional reparation costs. The most common causes of coating failures include:

  • Poor product and surface preparation
  • Wrong coating type or incompatibility
  • Low quality paint
  • Unfavourable application conditions

Coating failures

The coating layers do not always look exactly as planned. Sometimes the overlay shows imperfections right after applying it, thus before even drying. Sometimes the failure however becomes visible only after some time.

The ABC of choosing the right coating

No matter whether you are choosing a coating for the simplest wall or the most complicated product, you always must choose carefully. The most important factors in choosing the right coating are planning ahead and knowing you project. The following questions help you choose a coating that meets the project’s requirements and is durable.

  1. What purpose does the surface/ object have?
  2. Where is it located and does it need protection, if so, from what (for example abrasion, chemicals, corrosion etc.)
  3. Does the coating need to have a function (for example electrical conductivity)?

Product and surface preparation

Once the coating has been chosen, the substrate must be prepared. This may involve removing old paint, filling gaps and cracks, sealing the surface or applying a primer. If you use fillers, sealers or primers, make sure the topcoat is compatible with them.

Before applying any product on the surface, inspect the conditions. Where needed remove mould and contamination from the surface and let the surface dry.

Regarding product preparation, some coatings must be diluted with water or solvent. Stick to the advice; for too thin paint may lead to problems such as poor flow. Also, if you applying a 2K system, bare in mind that the coating dries fast once the components are mixed.

Application conditions

Even if the coating is carefully chosen and the surface is appropriately prepared, there is still a risk to ruin it. Sometimes the single reason for a coating failure lays on the application. It is always advisable to follow the product specific instructions to avoid any inconvenience. The three environmental factors that may affect the application are:

  • Humidity
  • Temperature
  • Wind

Firstly, make sure to stick to the application temperature given. Applying coatings in too warm environment may lead to the coating drying too soon. This for its part causes imperfections on the surface. Too low temperatures for their part may lead to poor adherence resulting in peeling or flaking. Another factor to consider is the humidity of air before, during and after application. This has to do with adherence and drying of the coating. If the substrate is not completely dry, the paint is not likely to adhere ideally. Additionally, the damp substrate may lead to fading, leaching or peeling.

It is also important to make sure that the nearly dry coating layer stays out of rain until it is completely dry. When it comes to wind, its absence is beneficial for the coating job. Hard wind may be problematic especially when applying thick layers; for it can make the surface unequal. Also thinner layers may suffer from wind due to the fact that it carries dust, seeds and other unwelcome particles on the substrate.

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