Waterborne coatings have been used to protect steel and concrete infrastructure for decades, and recent technical developments have led to materials with lower VOC content and higher performance. Onecomponent waterborne acrylics are often considered for light to medium duty service environments, but what level of performance can be expected from these systems? This paper will describe recent efforts to formulate waterborne acrylic coatings for steel protection below 25 g/L VOC and exemplify high performance over steel substrates. The very low VOC levels are facilitated by an innovative acrylic latex polymer that can be formulated at low coalescent levels and still demonstrate the highest standards of corrosion resistance and exterior durability. A comparison to a currently available low VOC resin and direct-to-metal (DTM) coatings will be described to highlight the advantages of the innovative binder and to demonstrate the high level of performance possible with waterborne acrylic coatings.


Today, the push to find more environmentally friendly solutions for paints and coatings has become very important. Paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that contribute to ground level ozone and smog and can be harmful to human health and air quality. VOC limits for formulated coatings have been instituted by local governments to meet the highest air quality standards. One such regional regulation set a limit of 100 g/L for industrial maintenance coatings in the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) of Southern California in 2007.1 In parallel, consumers and end-users continuously seek greener and more sustainable coatings as populations are becoming more aware of their effect on the environment. There is also a demand for safer coatings with lower odor and flammability, which is helping drive the industry to find alternative solutions to solvent based technologies. As a result, paint manufacturers continue to develop low VOC products to meet these environmental regulations and consumer needs.

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