Wood Coatings, Stains & Finishes

By Catherine Diamond, Associate Editor | February 13, 2017

The future of the market will center on functional furniture and environmentally-conscious formulations.

The global wood coating resins market is projected to reach $4.24 billion by 2021, at a CAGR of 5.39 percent through 2021, according to a recent report by Markets and Markets. Researchers found that growth in the global wood coating resins market is due to the eco-friendly properties of wood coating resins, healthier coating systems, more durable coating resins with better performance and better aesthetics, the growing demand for waterborne and solvent-free coating resins, VOC regulations driving the demand for waterborne coating resins, and the growing end-use industries.

The most dominant application segment in the global wood coating resins market is furniture, according to Markets and Markets. “Modern indoor and outdoor furniture has an increasing array of functions that need different kinds of coatings,” the report states. “Superior resistance to dirt, abrasion, and water are the most significant properties required for wood coating resins for the furniture application. Additionally, superior chemical resistance to shoe polish, nail polish remover, soft drinks and other agents that might be commonly found in office environments was also identified as an important criterion for office wood coatings. There is a growth in the demand for modern as well as traditional furniture in the market and the demand for furniture is directly proportional to the demand for wood coating resins.”

Within the global wood coatings market, waterborne coatings were found to be the fastest-growing technology. In many cases, Markets and Markets researchers wrote, waterborne wood coating resins exceed the performance and application properties of existing solvent-based wood coating resins. “This technology offers excellent performance properties such as early chemical resistance, block and print resistance, and hardness,” researchers said.

The highest growth rate in this market is found in the Asia-Pacific region. Driven by multiple economic growth factors and rapid infrastructure development, this area has become a “global sourcing hub for key companies owing to the region’s rapidly increasing demand for wood coating resins.” Additional growth factors include changing consumer preferences, improvement in the standards of living, and increased spending on infrastructure throughout Asia-Pacific
Housing is back on the rise

Throughout 2016, many companies reported that the wood coatings market saw steady growth. Chris Bradford, marketing director, wood coatings, AkzoNobel Coatings, said that the market grew overall around 2-3 percent “with bright spots in high growth markets as well the mature market of the U.S. Growth was evident in specific countries in Europe.  The housing market remained active for 2016.”

Looking specifically at the North American region, it is easy to see that a healthier housing market has been a tremendous market force. According to Jacquelyn Ferrara, director of marketing at Minwax, “homeowners are investing in their homes from molding to floors in the hopes of increasing their worth, while buyers have become more keen to these details and are willing to bid higher to have them.”

Changes in the demographics of the housing market are also responsible for growth. Jason Olson, marketing director at Rust-Oleum, pointed out that America’s Baby Boomer generation is “downsizing from traditional five-bedroom family houses to updated three-bedroom homes or condos and finding their heirloom furniture and décor is no longer scaled to fit the new, sleekly designed contemporary environments.”

Millennials, he added, are driving their own trends as well. Data points to millennials favoring environmentally-friendly and repurposed furniture.

Joe Kujawski, global director of marketing, wood finishes, Sherwin-Williams, said that as first-time homebuyers enter the market, their goal is to make their house their own.  

“As Millennials enter the housing market, they seek to make their homes and condos uniquely their own – a reflection of their individual style and taste,” Kujawski said. “To meet that demand, woodworkers not only need the right finishes that help them in terms of efficiency, durability and sustainability, but the right application systems as well. And it’s more than just finding the right finishes and equipment. It’s about finding a finishing supplier that has the right technical team and support to be there when help is needed, or advice is required to get the finish just right.”

Key drivers and performance specifications

Because outdoor furniture and structures, such as decks, rely heavily on weatherproof coatings, changing climates are cause for adaptation in this market. Vanessa Manz, senior marketing manager, PPG Stains & Wood Care, said that wood care is a complex category with many factors affecting brand choice and project completion.

“Weather plays a huge role in this category and with no end in sight for the trend of extreme weather, consumers are going to look to brands for products that give them more climate flexibility and durability even in the most extreme weather,” Manz said.

Durability goes hand in hand with longevity, which Mike Kozlowski, director of marketing, Thompson’s WaterSeal, said is a concern for consumers. “Our customers look for wood coating products that are able to handle the exterior elements year over year (water, sun, snow, etc.) and also deliver long-lasting beauty for their outdoor wood projects.”

In addition to outdoor furniture, indoor furniture, cabinetry and flooring all need to withstand years of wear and tear. And competition in the housing market is forcing manufacturers to create “everything-proof” products at a faster pace than ever.

Sherwin-Williams’ Kujawski said that manufacturers “a beautiful, class-A finish in as few steps as possible. They’re looking to save labor, save materials, and increase throughput as much as possible. They want to dial in their finishing process, take advantage of new technologies, and get it right the first time.”

Kujawski added that waterborne coatings are vital to this market as demand has increased, but VOC regulations have likely increased.

“As a result,” he said, “waterborne as a category is growing, even for manufacturers with more intricate goods. Today’s waterborne finishes look, feel, apply and dry more to the aesthetics manufacturers are used to from solvent-based finishes; they deliver a beautiful, durable appearance; contain zero or low levels of VOCs; help shops get greater productivity from their staffs as there is no need for respirators and no solvent odors; and they reduce costs as there is no need to buy cleaning solvents (hazard and fire insurance can be reduced with fewer chemicals onsite), and increased throughput.”

In addition to durability and longevity, robust application is a major focus in this market. AkzoNobel’s Woods said that there is also a desire for waterborne with solventborne performance (application is key), and a need for longer-term warranties for exteriors. The latter is driven in part by growth in multi-story wooden buildings in Europe, Woods said.

“We see opportunities here for added value products which reduce the downstream service cost,” he said.

Additionally, there is a focus on increased surface durability in applications such as cabinets and flooring. Woods said scratch and stain resistance  – with additional surface functionality such as antimicrobial – are also considerations.


Because of its ties to the housing market, the wood coatings market is often subject to changing trends. AkzoNobel’s Woods said that, specifically in North America, there is “clear growth in the popularity of solid colors over stains as the reclaimed furniture look grows in appeal globally.” Additionally, low and no gloss formulations are preferred.

Despite the classic colors that customers can sometimes default to, PPG’s Manz said, there are some colors that are trending with those willing to step out of the norm. 
Manz said that natural wood is trending, as is blackened wood.

“Charred, deep stains give wood a modern look and are prominent in restaurants, hotels, retail and condominiums in metro areas. We are also beginning to see charred black stains becoming more popular in residential and suburban areas.”

In homes, painted cabinetry has gained amazing market share over the past several years, said Kujawski of Sherwin-Williams.

“Five years ago, the market was 90 percent stain, 10 percent painted. Today, it’s about 50-50, and it’s more custom work than ever. As previously mentioned, millennials are driving this market with the desire to get away from the cookie-cutter look of homes and apartments. For example, the primary cabinetry in a kitchen may be finished in a shade of gray or taupe – bold, warm neutrals.

The island cabinetry may be finished in a contrasting color. We’re seeing blues, greens and yellow used as accent colors – it’s more mix-and-match than ever.”

Wood-toned finishes are making a strong come back, according to Rust-Oleum’s Olsen, but not the traditional reds that have been seen in the past.

“These wood tones will exemplify the natural beauty of the wood but not be restricted to the ‘excepted’ color tone of that particular species. Antique reproductions with aging techniques and vintage designs and finishes continue to be strong in today’s market and are here to stay for some time.”

New products

Some of the latest products to become available in this market are as follows. For more information, please contact the company directly.

AkzoNobel: AkzoNobel has recently launched several new products for this market, including: Aquasilk, a high performance waterborne furniture coatings; NDuraSilk, an OEM kitchen cabinet coating with great feel, custom color program and reduced process steps; 2k NISO, a ground-breaking stain isolating primer which is waterborne and isocyanate free; LED-cured basecoats for flat line manufacture; and formaldehyde-free acid catalysed coatings for office furniture.

Minwax: Last year Minwax launched Minwax Complete 1-Step Floor Finish, a two-in-one stain and protective finish that allows consumers to refinish their floors with ease. It saves time by eliminating extra steps and the need for multiple products, yet still providing superior durability. Complete 1-Step Floor Finish is offered in a choice of five natural wood tones. It also come in two sheens—gloss and satin.

PPG: Last year PPG’s Olympic brand introduced Olympic MAXIMUM exterior stain products with Weather-Ready Application capabilities. Exclusive to Olympic MAXIMUM stain, the Weather-Ready Application gives consumers opportunities to stain when it may rain or if the climate is too hot or cold.  Certain opacities of Olympic MAXIMUM stain can be applied to damp wood, which allows customers to stain even after a rain shower, and with certain opacities, when a deck surface becomes too hot before staining, customers are able to mist it with water to get it an optimal temperature. Additionally, several of the product opacities will last even if it rains as soon as eight hours after stain application. Finally, the product can be applied down to 35 F, allowing deck staining to continue even as the weather turns cold. Now, users can stain when they want and not when the weather dictates.

Rust-Oleum: Weathered Wood Accelerator is launching in February 2017. It is used to create a weathered/distressed look on wood furniture continues to be a top trend. Consumers currently use complicated and time consuming methods to age wood such as steel wool and vinegar. Rust-Oleum has developed a new, waterbased formula that creates a one-of-a-kind aged gray look on all types of wood.  Simply apply on bare wood and get an aged look in minutes.

Sherwin-Williams: In the high-end luxury markets, many custom manufacturers want the very best finishing products for their discerning clientele, so Sherwin-Williams says it is being asked more and more about its Sayerlack advanced technology Italian finishes. This produt is designed for a high-end, stylish European look that is also resistant to moisture, chemicals and scratches.

The company offers both waterborne and solvent-based finishes in this area. Sayerlack Hydroplus AF71 Series is a top-of-the-line waterborne finish. Sayerlack Premium Polyurethane, a non-yellowing system that offers a high-performance, is a formaldehyde-free alternative to acid cured resin technology.

Thompson’s Water Seal: In 2016, Thompson’s WaterSeal Signature Series was introduced, a new lineup of waterproofing and staining products featuring highly-specialized formulas to give homeowners a one-step solution for their outdoor wood care needs, providing “outstanding protection and beautiful results.” The new family of products includes both clear and richly-colored stain offerings. Homeowners can select either a Clear Wood Protector to highlight the wood’s natural grain or a Stain & Sealer to add beautiful color. Thompson’s WaterSeal Signature Series Stain & Sealer is available in three opacities: Transparent, Semi-Transparent, and Solid; and four popular colors: Autumn Brown, Natural Cedar, Timber Brown and Honey Gold. 

Flood Family Member Refinishes Home with Trusted Stain Brand

by Pete Flood

Rhode Island’s coastal climate can be really tough on wood year-round, especially since the salt and humidity in the air never seems to go away, regardless of the season. Luckily for me, when we took on a project to refinish the exterior of my home in Rhode Island this past August, my background in the woodcare business meant I knew a thing or two about the challenges the climate might create, how to address them and which products would be best for the project. Having founded the FLOOD woodcare brand over 175 years ago, my family had been in this business for over a century. The Flood woodcare brand is now powered by PPG, a global innovator in coatings, but my deep knowledge of the brand’s heritage gave me a unique perspective on my own staining project and working with the current PPG Flood brand team and products.

The last time the exterior of my home was refinished was in 2008, about eight years ago, when we remodeled. At the time, we used Flood CWF in Cedar Tone, and despite some mold growing on the roof and mildew on the shingles, which is expected, the finish held up really well over the years. Before refinishing the siding, roof and tiles, we made sure to first properly clean the wood. On some of it we were able to use the Flood Pro Series Wood Cleaner. My family developed the first Flood wood cleaner in 1980, and today, the Pro Series Wood Cleaner can clean a deck in half the time it takes to power-wash while removing four times more dirt than water alone. This helped to ensure we removed the mold and mildew before applying the new finish.

Since my grandfather and brother were painting contractors, our family knows how important a quality product is to a project. To refinish my house, we used Flood Pro Series CWF-UV 5, again in Cedar Tone, for its UV protection, water repellency against rain and snow as well as penetrating protection below the wood surface. With only himself and two members of his team, Lee finished the entire project over the course of two weeks, and he credits that to the Flood products being labor friendly.

Refinishing my home reaffirmed my belief that using products with a balance of great appearance and durability can save you from more work in the future. I also wanted to share a few other helpful hints for contractors or DIYers:

• Prepare before your project starts: Proper preparation not only helps to clean the wood, but also helps the stain’s appearance. Be sure to use a wood cleaner, rather than just a power washer, to ensure you are removing dirt, mold or mildew below the surface.

• Choose the right product for your project: Identifying the right products can make the difference for both appearance and protection. Being in Rhode Island, and having a background in the woodcare business, I understood the impact that the climate in the region can have on exterior wooden surfaces. As professionals, this knowledge, as well as the knowledge about the exterior wooden surfaces, will help to make sure we select the best product for the job and for our aesthetic expectations.

When our family owned the Flood business, we were committed to two core product values, quality and innovation, and I’m very pleased to see that these are still closely aligned with the Flood brand’s products today, owned by PPG.