There are many reasons for using water-based paints and not least of these is the environmental impact but, before we get onto that, it’s probably best to start with clarifying what it means to be a water-based paint.
What are water-based paints?
Any paint or coating that uses water rather than chemical solvents as the liquifying agent is a water-based paint. The alternative is a solvent-based paint. Solvent-based paints also have many unique pros and cons which we will cover in another post.
Why did water-based paint become a thing?
Paint containing fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds) has become increasingly important over the past 2 decades as the effects of these compounds on both the environment and on human health have become known. Solvent-based paints typically contain large amounts of VOCs and so manufacturers invested heavily in improving the quality of their water-based coatings in order to address the concerns surrounding the impact of VOCs. More information about VOCs and their impact can be found in the fact box below.
What are the top ten reasons for using water-based paints?
- They emit fewer VOCs causing less damage to the environment
- They are low odour which means that a workspace can be used again as soon as spray painting has been completed without worrying about the smell. This helps minimise disruption caused by paint jobs in busy offices and retail spaces.
- They are less flammable than solvent-based paints.
- They have excellent adhesion and are extremely unlikely to separate from the surface to which they are applied. Wood, brick, galvanised metal, cement and vinyl surfaces are all suited to water-based paints.
- The colour retention of water-based paints is superior to solvent-based paints although they do not offer quite such a high sheen.
- Ease of application. Water-based coatings are easy to apply and cleaning up after them is also straight-forward.
- They are available in a full range of RAL colours.
- Most water-based coatings are quick drying allowing more than one coat to be completed in a single day.
- The reduction in VOCs as a result of water-based paints is beneficial for human health as well as for the environment.
- They are not a hazardous waste product so there are no disposal issues.
Are there any reasons not to use water-based paints?
Of course there are some uses where it may still be wise to consider a solvent-based paint and, if that is the case, we will be happy to advise you regarding your required coating and the reasons for its selection. For example, solvent-based coatings provide more protection against extreme weather conditions or frost. Combined with the issues around releasing odour and harmful VOCs this means that they are more likely to be suggested for external projects than internal ones.
Our expert team can help you to identify the best coating for your premises during your free survey and quote. Get in touch with them with any questions that you may have.
What are VOCs and what impact do they have?
VOCs are volatile organic compounds which are created when toxic chemicals turn into vapour and form harmful gases. Large quantities of VOCs are released each year by natural events such as wildfires but, more pertinently, industrial operations contribute a significant chunk of the annual VOC emissions. Examples of VOCs are butane, propane, xylene and ethanol.
When exposed to sunlight, VOCs react with carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide to form ground-level smog which can cause diseases in plants and prevent fertilisation. The impacts of high levels of VOCs include contributing to global warming and the creation of acid rain.
VOCs can also impact on human health with high levels of exposure linked to headaches, dizziness and memory loss amongst other symptoms. It is important to state that this is linked to particularly high quantities and that solvent-based paint still has a place in the market. This merely demonstrates why we choose to use water-based paint whenever it is an appropriate coating.
Want to find out more about VOCs? Click here for more info from the government website.