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Getting waterborne coatings to work on wood can be like running a marathon: It's tough, but crossing the finishing line makes the sweat worthwhile.
Switching from solventborne to waterborne coatings can help manufacturers substantially lower their VOC emissions, and at a cost that can be significantly less than other environmentally friendly technologies. Waterborne coatings also eliminate the odors associated with solventborne paint, reduce the risk of fire and cut down on permit paperwork and fees. In some cases, finishers also find that waterbornes produce a more durable finish than their solventborne paints.
Though switching can be especially challenging to finishers of wood products, making it work is worth the effort. At least that has been the experience of the finishers that took part in an EPA study designed to demonstrate that low-VOC/HAP coatings can be used successfully by some wood-furniture manufacturing facilities and to assist other facilities in converting to low VOC/HAP coatings. And companies don't necessarily need deep pockets to make the change.
In the study, the average facility replaced several gun or pump components, but not the entire coating line. The cost of waterborne coatings can be dramatically higher, but many facilities use much less of it than solventborne coatings because of the higher content of solids.
The unacceptable appearance of products finished with some waterborne coatings is often the …