Low VOC, No CCA
Regulatory pressures, shifting demand for water-based products over oil and low-VOC limitations are some of the greatest challenges facing the wood coatings industry today. "All of these issues force the reformulating of proven products and making compliant all Cabot products," said Gregg Riskin, vice president marketing, Cabot. "Cabot has water-based formulations for virtually all oil products. We have reformulated to meet all VOC regulations without detriment to quality. And naturally, we must also remain vigilant of the changing face of retail."
The change in formulation is, in part, led by consumers' desire to have easier to use products. "The move from solvent-based to water-based coatings has been consumer led," agreed Mark Burgin, marketing manager, Ronseal.
In response to this demand, many companies are investing R&D time into developing compliant products that will be both cost effective and high performing. Ronseal has developed Quick Drying woodstain, the first water-based exterior range available in the UK; Quick Drying Varnish, and Quick Drying Floor Varnish, a water-based, high-performance coating for timber floors.
"One of the biggest factors that is looming over the wood coatings market is the potential VOC regulations," said Bob Hammond, category director, Minwax. "Right now it is hard to say exactly where those regulations are going to net out. They are looking to put constraints that could be very challenging. In some cases, the technology to comply does not exist. As a result of this, we have been investing in R&D to develop low-VOC products that will perform to consumers and contractors expectations."
The company's efforts have led to a new water-based polyurethane for floors. According to Mr. Hammond, the formulation enables consumers to take advantage of the benefits of a water-based coating-fast dry time, low odor and low VOC�and an oil-based coating-durability and warmth and richness of color. "This new product is two to four times more durable than competitive products and currently available in the DIY channel of trade," he added.
VOC regulation is not the only environmental legislation affecting wood coatings. With the upcoming ban on chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood for residential use in 2004, consumers are becoming aware of the detrimental effects of exposure to arsenate. Currently the EPA recommends that existing decks and other outdoor structures built with this pressure-treated wood be protected with a regular application of an oil-based coating. As such, the demand for these protective finishes is expected to increase. The Flood Company reports that several of its products, including CWF-UV clear wood finish, FloodPro penetrating oil and Seasonite are effective in protecting consumers from exposure. "In many cases our wood finishes are able to substantially reduce exposure," said Pat Coughlin, manager product development, The Flood Company.
"The biggest factor affecting the wood coating market today is the change from CCA pressure-treated wood formula to new alternative formulas such as alkaline copper quat and copper azole," said Rick Mendenhall, manager, Wolman Certified Contractor Program. "We have been testing these new formulas to make sure our products will continue to preserve and protect wood into the future."
|An increased interest in home decorating has created demand for a variety of new colors for wood coatings.|
Favorable housing markets, both in the U.S. and in areas such as Britain, have contributed to an increased demand for wood coatings.
"We have seen tremendous strength in the housing market," said Mr. Hammond. "We have benefited from the strength of the housing market due to strong housing sales and low interest rates. It benefits our business when people invest in their homes."
"Market demand has been buoyed by a very active house market in the UK, where levels of property purchases continue to rise despite inflationary prices," said Mr. Burgin of Ronseal. "Another key influence on the consumer is a plethora of television programs featuring room makeovers, DIY and gardening."
According to Mr. Burgin, DIY product development at Ronseal has driven sector growth in the areas of color and increased convenience and ease-of-use in interior and exterior wood care.
Gardencare, its new exterior woodcare offering, consists of four products, garden furniture stain, hardwood furniture stain, hardwood furniture oil and Fencelife. The products are available in eight colors including rustic oak, autumn redwood and contemporary colors such as summer sage and harbor blue.
Time-saving products that dry quickly and can be applied in a single coat are also becoming popular. Spa-N-Deck basecoat, The Flood Company's newest product, is part of a three-coat system that is specially formulated to be applied directly to a wet surface, saving contractors and DIYers time. "It's really beautifully suited for new wood applications," said Mr. Coughlin.
Flood has also developed Easy Mix E-B Emulsa-Bond, a stir-in bonding primer formulated for exterior wood. It's ideal for chalky or dusty surfaces and offers the time-saving benefit of being a strong bonding, mildew-resistant prime coat and first coat in a single application, according to the company.
|According to Wolman, the upcoming ban on CCA-treated wood for residential use will have a significant impact on the wood coatings industry.|
Not Your Mother's Brown
Today's consumers are also demanding more color options from their wood coatings. No longer satisfied with standard browns, consumers are looking for blues and reds to brighten wood products and decorate their homes.
A few years ago, Minwax launched a line of water-based wood stains with 60 custom decorator tint colors, including vibrant reds, blues, greens and yellows. "We are seeing a growth with these custom decorating colors," said Mr. Hammond. "We are seeing tremendous growth within this whole water-based stain line-including the traditional wood tone colors."
To capitalize on this trend, Minwax has added two new colors, English chestnut and Sedona red, to its Wood Finish stain line. "These are the first new colors we have launched since 1995," said Mr. Hammond. "For the last year to year and a half we looked at trends in the marketplace, such as furniture manufacturer trends and decorating trends, and identified the opportunity to launch these two new colors."
Cabot has also been busy developing new color options for its customers. "We have formulated tintable bases for all our major product lines allowing for vast selection," said Mr. Riskin. "We also have put great emphasis on developing better performing clears and natural toned products to meet consumer demand for a long-lasting natural look."
Among Cabot's latest launches is a solid color stain�Pro. V.T.�formulated exclusively for contractor use, featuring one-coat coverage, low temperature application, excellent sprayability and special packaging, said Mr. Riskin. In addition, Cabot recently launched Cabothane, a 100% acrylic urethane that imparts a rich glossy look to wood shingles, siding, doors, trim and most other exterior details.
Wolman has expanded its color offering with two new products, DuraStain semi-transparent wood stain and RainCoat water repellent with toner (natural hickory). DuraStain is an alkyd/acrylic water-based blend that provides greater longevity, durability and scuff resistance than the standard exterior oil-based stains. According to Wolman, it beautifies wood with a richly pigmented, semi-transparent finish. It is available in six premixed colors and 16 custom tints.
"DuraStain was created because of the increased desire from DIYers for a semi-transparent stain that maximizes color retention, water repellency and mildew resistance," said Mr. Mendenhall.
The new natural hickory color for Wolman RainCoat water repellent with toner line "was created from a desire to have a deeper brown color in our water-based toner line," Mr. Mendenhall said. Wolman RainCoat toner is an exterior water-based, water repellent toner product, which protects wood against water damage and mildew growth while providing UV protection.
With so many new performance- enhancing features and color options available, these new wood coatings are ready to meet the increasing demands of today's consumer.