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Pros and Cons of Waterborne Coatings

Waterborne coatings continue to gain in popularity and use in a variety of painting applications, they have a variety of benefits as well as a variety of drawbacks that are important to consider if your evaluating switching to a waterborne coating.  However, If you are being required to use a waterborne coating, then a lot of these factors are less important for you. Our goal in this article is to cover the pros and cons so that you can better determine whether making the change makes sense for your particular application.

Waterborne Coatings Pros

  • Environmentally safer – Waterborne Coatings do not contain as many hazardous compounds as solvent based coatings. These hazardous compounds, known as (Volatile Organic Compounds) are monitored by the EPA and covered under the National  Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Compliance and Monitoring. Waterborne coatings will have significantly solvent content which will typically result in significantly lower volumes of Volatile organic Compounds. In certain industries and areas, you may be required to use waterborne coatings which is why it can be important to talk to your states EPA office to determine any applicable rules
  • Lower Clean Up Costs – Waterborne Coatings can be cleaned with water and do not require solvent thinners. Solvents can be costly to dispose of and so water based coatings can typically have a lower cleanup cost associated with them .
  • Less flammable – Due to typically having lower solvent content waterborne coatings can be less flammable than solvent based coatings
  • Can require less gloss finish – Waterborne coatings in automotive applications often have a higher natural gloss to them which can result in requiring less clear coat to achieve a desired apperance

Waterborne Coatings Cons

  • Less tolerant of application environment – Due to their composition waterborne coatings are more sensitive to temperature and humidity. This can make it difficult to apply waterborne coatings in environments where you do not have any control over temperature and humidity, especially during cure cycles.
  • Can Require Additional Equipment Expense – Water is corrosive to a variety of metals and if you will be using waterborne coatings you will want to ensure your coating application equipment whether it be a spray gun or airless paint sprayer is made of stainless steel or another material that is non corrosive. Stainless steel pressure tanks are more expensive than other pressure tank options like galvanized tanks.

Conclusion

Ultimately selecting a coating is critical to providing proper protection and meeting your finish requirements. By knowing the benefits and drawbacks of waterborne coatings you can begin to see if they make sense for your application. You will also want to consider the variety of different types of waterborne coatings as each will have its unique benefits and drawbacks. If you have questions about appropriate application equipment for your waterborne coatings, feel free to contact us.

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