Experts interview: Wood coatings and sustainability

Wood is seen as one of the most sustainable buildingmaterial for all kinds of products. To live up to these expectations, woodcoatings have to be as sustainable as possible, too. We spoke with expertsabout the current technical challenges.

Wood coatings not only have to last for a long time Source: Gabriel -

A big task, not only for wood coatings, is the pressure onbiocide usage. Regulations like the Biocide Directive528/2012 and 98/8/EG are affecting the industry. Even though this is a big taskat hand, it is not necessarily just a bad development. “You can already see howthe move away from biocides is acting as a catalyst for innovation.  As we tackle the question of what abiocide-free wood coatings sector looks like, I think we can expect to see someinteresting sector developments”, explains PPGs R&D Wood coatings directorJos Kemp.

Regulatory pressure on biocides

Regulations and labelling already reduced the number ofbiocides as Claudia Schirp, project manager at Fraunhofer WKI, explains: “Talking of exterior wood coatings, the biocidecocktail has almost been reduced to propiconazol, IPBC and tebuconazol.Nevertheless, the amount of active ingredients should be as low as possible.“

Getting rid of biocidesin wood coatings once and for all will be difficult, as Schirp explains. “Butwith respect to toxic and allergic reactions we should always rethink specificapplications”, she adds. For Jos Kemp the end goal is “to create a cleanproduct with a lengthy shelf life by using our innovative capacity at PPG todiscover alternative solutions as to what we can do with different paintformulations.”

Technical possibilities vs. markatability

Of course, biocides arejust one factor that affect the development of wood coatings. However, theexperts have different views on the technical challenges. As Schirp states: “Technicalchallenges in the field of wood coatings are widely solved, at leastscientifically.” Even though, she adds “Sometimes the question is, if thetechnical solution is economical enough.” For Kemp, who has to develop woodcoatings that are technically up to speed and economically marketable, thesituation is a bit more difficult.

One example is the shift towards morewater-based products. “We have seen great progress in this area, but theindustry is yet to achieve a water-based product that provides all the samequalities as solvent-based”, says Kemp. One topic PPG is focusing on is increasing the open time and mirror gloss ofwater-based wood coatings. He also sees potential to increase efficiency forthe painter and extend the durability further. “For us the journey to beingmore environmentally friendly is not just focused on the products we make butcreating something that lasts longer to allow for green savings across itslifecycle”, he explains.

Bio-based wood coatings

Sustainability is also on the mind of Claudia Schirp. She says: “When you ask for renewable raw materials, recyclability and environment pollution by micro plastics, there is still plenty of room for research and development”, and adds: “I rather see needs in recycling systems and technologies instead of new functions of the material.”

The transition to bio-based wood coatings is also a key point for Jos Kemp. “A bio-based accreditation on a product is one of our bigger selling points right now”, he says. However, this has its limits as he adds: “but we and our customers will not accept any reduced performance in exchange.”

More information

More about wood coatings and their latest technological developments can be found at our online library European Coatings 360°. In issue 9/2020 you can find a more detailed and more comprehensive interview with both experts.

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