Wood Coatings Market

By Kerry Pianoforte, Associate Editor | January 29, 2010

The wood coatings market continues to face some challenging economic conditions.

Although the wood coatings market will surely face another tough year, there are some reasons to be optimistic. Wood coatings stand to benefit from a rebound in the housing market and increased interest in consumers to undertake DIY projects.

According to a recent Freedonia Group study, Wood Protection Coatings and Preservatives, demand for wood protection coatings and preservatives is forecast to increase 2.2% per year to $3 billion in 2013. A rebound in the housing market will promote growth, as the residential segment is a key outlet for wood products that utilize coatings and preservatives. Demand will also benefit form a shift in product mix to higher value items, a slight upswing in pressure-treated lumber production and solid levels of residential repair and improvement spending. These favorable factors, however, will not overcome continued weakness in the key wood siding market.

In general, wood protection products will achieve the best gains in interior wood applications, such as flooring and cabinets. In these applications, gains will be promoted by a rebound in housing starts and growth in residential improvement spending, as the purchaseof these items is common during both homebuilding and remodeling activity. In order to maintain wood's position in interior applications, wood coatings suppliers will strive to develop product lines that feature a wider range of colors, improved efficiency and enhanced durability. In addition, wood coatings suppliers are addressing demand for "green" materials with the development of environmentally friendlier formulations. The longevity of interior wood limits gains in coatings demand, as maintenance requirements are infrequent.

As for exterior applications wood will continue to suffer losses to competitive materials, resulting in an extremely difficult market environment for wood protection coatings and preservatives suppliers, especially as high maintenance requirements are a key factor in wood's gradual market losses. This is especially the case in siding, where the use of wood-based products continues to decline. However, maintenance coatings demand will continue to be supported by the large installed base of wood-based home exteriors and decks. Demand will be boosted by the greater use of higher value coatings, featuring enhanced durability and greater ease of use.

Wood coatings manufacturers Coatings World spoke to reported 2009 to be a less-than-stellar year, but also expressed optimism for the coming year.

"The category remained flat as has been the case for the last several years," said Matt Moon, senior brand manager for Rust-Oleum. "With the slowly recovering economy and the increased focus on renewing and reviving the old instead of buying new, the prospects for the category look brighter for 2010."

"Speaking specifically about exterior wood cleaners and waterproofers, that category was probably one of the best performers for many hardware retailers," said Mike Kozlowski, director of marketing for Thompson's Water Seal. "A deck makeover is not an expensive project. In fact, the average-size deck can be cleaned and coated for approximately $100-150, depending on how many supplies you have to buy. With people spending more time at home, it's a great investment not only in terms of protecting your deck, but also for making your whole backyard look better. We think the category will continue to have positive growth in 2010."

Addressing the issue of composite materials replacing wood in certain applications, Carl Minchew, director of product development at Benjamin Moore said, "Although we continue to lose exterior wood substrates to alternative materials, it still remains the number one substrate for residential exteriors. The exterior sales in 2008 and 2009 have pretty much mirrored interior sales. In 2010 we hope to see improvement. The residential building market is starting to rebound, as is the deck business. Many new decks are being built with synthetic material but wood is the preferred material. It should also be noted that even a synthetic deck uses wood for all the supports."

Waterborne formulations and DIYers drive growth

The increased use of waterborne formulations, coupled with an increased interest by consumers in taking on DIY projects has provided much-needed buoyancy in a lagging market.

According to Thompson Water Seal's director of marketing, Mike Kozlowski, the market for deck care products is primarily driven by DIYers. "It's an inexpensive way for homeowners to protect and beautify their investment," he said. "A project like making over a deck or staining a fence also is one of the most achievable DIY projects, even for people with very little experience."
"We have been very successful in introducing waterborne products that offer superior performance," said Minchew. "With the introduction of our Aura exterior portfolio and our proprietary Gennex Color System we now offer a high build exterior with superior protection and longevity. We are now setting the standard in exterior stains with the introduction of Arborcoat. It consists of our opacities and a protective clear coat that is part of a transparent and semi-transparent deck system. The product incorporates a unique blend of a water reducible alkyd and acrylic resin. All products can be used for both decks and siding and are tinted with our Gennex zero VOC tint system."

The DIY segment is a key market for wood coating manufacturers. "The market for deck care products is primarily driven by DIYers," said Kozlowski. "It's an inexpensive way for homeowners to protect and beautify their investment. A project like making over a deck or staining fence also is one of the most achievable DIY projects, even for people with very little experience. Many projects don't require any special tools or equipment-just the products, a scrub brush, garden hose and applicator. That's not to say that there isn't a professional market for deck coatings. The Thompson's Company does offer a Certified Contractors Program that offers professionals training and support specially in cleaning and waterproofing exterior wood."

"DIYers will be one of the key markets driving the market for wood coatings," said Moon. "Construction is generally slower to come around during an economic recovery, so expectations are for DIYers to be the growth engine in wood coatings initially. Reclamation projects are expected to be more popular while we recover from the economic downturn, with DIYers still leaning on the frugal side, renewing and reviving old surfaces, as opposed to buying new. When construction picks up that's when we will see rapid growth for the wood coatings category."

"DIYers are continually seeking more and more convenience and time saving applications and products," said Moon. "In addition, environmental impact continues to be of concern. Because of this water-based products are gaining more and more popularity. However, at the end of the day, the products must have the same or better performance characteristics as their traditional oil-based counterparts."

The latest offerings for wood coatings

Benjamin Moore recently introduced Arborcoat waterborne exterior deck and siding stains. Arborcoat utilizes the same patented Gennex waterborne colorant technology developed by Benjamin Moore over the past decade. This waterborne stain delivers a low odor, low VOC product that performs as well as conventional stains, according to the company.

"A waterborne exterior stain is not a new product, but Arborcoat is succeeding where others previously failed," said Minchew. "In short, it's an advanced technology for preserving wood."

Benjamin Moore's Arborcoat line of waterborne exterior stains is comprised of five products formulated for decks and siding applicatiosn. Arborcoat stains repel UV rays, are water and mildew resistant and help prevent scuffing and the wear and tear of constant foot traffic.
Five products comprise the family of Arborcoat Waterborne Exterior Stains. Transparent, Semi Transparent and Protective Clear Coat are options that offer exceptional protection while allowing the natural color and texture of the wood to show through. For those wanting to completely mask the wood grain but retain the textural qualities, there is a choice of Arborcoat Semi Solid or Solid finishes. These are acrylic formulations, with performance properties that are equal to the previous products. Semi Solid is available in 75 popular colors and Solid in any color.

All five products help repel damaging UV rays, are water and mildew resistant, and help prevent scuffing and the wear of constant foot traffic. When tinted, the low odor stains feature Gennex waterborne colorant, adding no further VOCs to a low VOC count of less than 100 grams per liter.

One of the newest innovations from Rust-Oleum Wood Care is Varathane Foam Stain. "It offers more control and less mess. This revolutionary concept in wood staining gives users maximum stability and control like never before with the added benefit of mess reduction. Simply apply the foam and rub into the wood. The premium, deep penetrating wood stain is available in eight colors. Foam Stain clings to vertical surfaces so it's ideal for use on doors, cabinets and trim."

For 2010, The Thompson's Company is launching three new concentrated wood cleaners, delivering full-strength cleaning muscle in bottles designed according to the guidelines of sustainable packaging.

New Thompson's Water Seal Wood Cleaner, Wood Brightener and Wood Stripper Concentrate come in 32- ounce bottles, which are 57% smaller than a typical one-gallon bottle, 79% lighter and uses 51% less plastic resin to manufacture.

The Thompson's Water Seal Advanced line includes a clear, multi-surface waterproofer, a Natural Wood Protector and a Tinted Wood Protector in four colors-Honey Gold, Natural Cedar, Nutmeg Brown and Rustic Red. In addition to waterproofing, the Wood Protectors provide a long-lasting coating that resists mildew growth and UV damage.

The Thompson's Water Seal Deck and House stain line includes latex and traditional oil formulas, as well as semi-transparent and solid colors for both. There is a new, simplified label for all Deck & House, which is the first time the label has been updated in almost eight years. The new labels have a cleaner look and easier to read bullets and "use-on" statements. Both Oil and Latex Stains have been reformulated to have a lower VOC; Oil is now less than 250 VOCs and the Latex line is compliant nationwide with a VOC of 100.

Minwax recently launched a number of innovative products for the wood coatings market.

"Starting from the ground up we introduced the Minwax Hardwood Floor Care System, a four-component package that makes cleaning simple and helps keep hardwood and laminate floors looking beautiful." said Jacquelyn Ferrara, director of marketing Minwax and Formby's, Sherwin-Williams Wood Care Products. "The system includes specially formulated 32 oz. Minwax Hardwood Floor Cleaner, a SmoothGlide Microfiber cleaning pad, a multi-pivot mop head, and a sturdy 3-piece handle. Minwax developed Water Based WoodSheen Rubbing Stain and Finish. This extremely easy to use stain allows consumers to achieve beautiful color in mere minutes. The result is a hand-rubbed finish that will surprise even first time wood finishers and can stand up to the finishes achieved by seasoned woodworkers.As an added bonus, the product is low odor, fast drying, and soap and water clean up." Minwax Water Based WoodSheen is available in six wood tone colors: Manor Oak, Plantation Walnut, Natural, Windsor Oak, Rosewood and Colonial Walnut.

Minwax has been at the forefront in the development of low VOC wood care products. In 2009, the company introduced two new products that are on the leading edge of the trend toward low VOC finishes., with new formulations of the company's popular polyurethane for floors and spar urethane. Minwax Super Fast-Drying Polyurethane for Floors (350 VOC) is a clear, durable, oil-based finish that has been specially formulated for hardwood floors. This new polyurethane requires no sanding between coats, offers the fastest recoat time of any available 350 VOC polyurethane, and features an anti-settling formula that provides a smooth, even sheen.

In addition, Minwax introduced a new low VOC spar urethane that offers sun and moisture protection as well as easy clean-up. Minwax Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane, with a 275 VOC formula, forms a protective barrier against nature's toughest conditions, including rain, moisture and sunlight. Special ultraviolet absorbers in Water Based Helmsman reduce the graying and fading effects of the sun, and the water-based formula results in low odor and easy soap and water clean-up. Minwax Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane is a crystal-clear topcoat, making it ideal for a range of wood applications outside and indoors. Outdoor furniture and doors will benefit from the product's tough ultraviolet and moisture protection. Indoors, the formula's flexibility makes Water Based Helmsman a good choice for areas that are exposed to moisture, splashed water, and temperature changes, such as windows, trim, bathroom cabinets, bar tops and kitchen countertops. Minwax Water Based Helmsman is available in Gloss, Semi-Gloss and Satin sheens.

PPG Helps Vintage Hardwood Flooring to Celebrate Facility Grand Opening

Carla Torquato (far left), PPG Wood marketing manager, joins (from left to right) Lori Derkatch, Lupe DiLuciano, Penny Hodges and Angelo Portante from Vintage Hardwood Flooring at the company's new showroom and manufacturing facility in Toronto, Canada.
PPG Industries was recently invited to attend Vintage Hardwood Flooring's two-week customer event to introduce its new show room and manufacturing facility in Toronto, Canada. One highlight of the new facility is an aluminum-oxide wood finishing production line designed with PPG that uses a UV curing process.

Brian Knapp, PPG market manager for UV flooring in North America, said the new wood coatings line gives Vintage Hardwood Flooring unprecedented manufacturing versatility. "The technology enables them to run multiple combinations of colors and coating layers to generate any color or finish a customer desires," he said. "It also helps them to control costs because of the ability to quickly change-out primers, stains, fillers and topcoats."

According to Emanuel Machado, director of sales and marketing for Vintage Hardwood Flooring, PPG was chosen to participate in the event on the strength of its 10-year partnership with his firm and the quality of PPG's wood coatings. "PPG has been with us from the beginning, and we consider them an important partner integral to our business," Machado said. "They have provided us with reliable, consistent paint, which has allowed us to focus our attention on market growth and product development. Having them communicate directly with our customers both highlights the benefits of their finishes and helps to build our brand image and awareness.

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