Consistent Application. Consistent Performance. Whatever the Weather.

Waterborne wood coatings are traditionally known for being more susceptible to environmental variables during application than their solvent-borne counterparts. Our experts explain why SHER-WOOD® Environmentally Adaptive (EA) Hydroplus™ coating technology may change waterborne performance as we know it.

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No one looks forward to a cold, wet day. Especially if your plans include applying a waterborne wood coating.

Or so traditional wisdom holds.

“There are plenty of good reasons to choose waterborne coatings in today’s market,” said Kevin O’Neill, Global Marketing Director, Kitchen Cabinets, Sherwin-Williams. “Compared with conventional solvent-borne coatings, they have far lower VOC emissions, they’re nonflammable and are generally safer to store and handle. But historically, their application window tends to be somewhat narrow because environmental conditions have an impact on how they behave when sprayed and applied.”

This can be a challenge, especially as wood finishing operations seek to simplify application and maximize production efficiency. But the operational and environmental benefits of waterborne coatings should not be overlooked, and recent technological advances can help such formulations adapt to a broader range of environmental conditions. That can mean big things for the wood finishing process everywhere.

Why Environmental Conditions Impact Application

Weather conditions impact the application of waterborne coatings for a few reasons.

As temperatures change, the rheological properties of waterborne formulations tend to change. Coatings will flow more slowly in colder temperatures and more quickly at hotter temperatures. Think of maple syrup—it will pour and flow far more slowly if poured right after it was taken from the refrigerator than if it was allowed to come up to room temperature first. Humidity is a factor too. Elevated humidity levels can lengthen the evaporation period of the water component of the coating, leading to longer drying times.

For shops operating in a climate with a diverse set of weather conditions, each season brings new adjustments for how traditional waterborne coatings are applied. A hot, humid day may necessitate that a waterborne coating is applied in thinner film layers in order to eliminate running or sagging—instead of completing a final finish in two coats, it may require three. Cold, damp conditions can force other compensatory application methods too—longer dry times create more opportunities for the coating to sag or run on a vertical surface. Adjusting your spraying process to account for such conditions can add both time and complexity to the application process, slowing down production.

For these reasons, waterborne coatings also come with a bit of a learning curve. Because the application process requires compensation for the given environmental conditions, less-experienced applicators may require extra training to deliver acceptable appearance on the final finish. This can be challenging in a tight labor market.

“There is a real need in the marketplace for a waterborne product that could perform across a wide range of environmental conditions,” said O’Neill. “Our customers have asked us for waterborne products that offer easier, more flexible application and improved final finish appearance. Something that would perform the same on a hot day or a cold day, in a dry environment or a humid one.”

Enter Environmentally Adaptive Technology

The need for waterborne coatings that apply and behave like solvent-borne products—all while delivering outstanding finishes and long-term durability—led Sherwin-Williams Industrial Wood Coatings to develop the all-new SHER-WOOD® Environmentally Adaptive (EA) Hydroplus™ coating technology.

“The concept started with our innovation team, and we began to develop formulation strategies that would optimize application and performance in different environmental conditions,” said Alex Crider, Product Marketing Manager, Sherwin-Williams. “Our goal was to develop a waterborne technology that behaved more like a solvent-borne formulation and that gave you elevated levels of performance.”

SHER-WOOD EA Hydroplus topcoat is a high-quality, self-sealing water-reducible acrylic system available in both clear and pigmented finishes. With performance characteristics and dry properties comparable to some of its solvent-borne counterparts, the product provides very good film hardness and chemical resistance that finishers demand. It’s an ideal choice for manufacturers in the kitchen cabinet, furniture and building products markets that seek versatile and reliable, high-performance coatings in a wide range of colors.

A careful formulation approach was required to deliver such performance attributes. “By optimizing the product’s vertical hang and leveling properties, we’ve allowed our customers to achieve a consistent, more forgiving application process for a wide range of environmental conditions,” said Jason Borgen, Technical Manager, Sherwin-Williams.

Such performance was borne out in testing performed by Sherwin-Williams technical teams. The product has been vetted in three distinct environments:

  • A baseline environment, at 70° F and 45% relative humidity
  • A cold environment, at 50° F and 30% relative humidity
  • A hot and humid environment, at 80° F and 85% relative humidity

“We achieved desirable, consistent performance in each scenario,”’ said Zachary Gardner, Research & Development Chemist,  Sherwin-Williams  “SHER-WOOD EA Hydroplus topcoat outperformed competitive formulations when applied to the substrate in terms of flow, leveling and hang.”

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Interested in learning more about SHER-WOOD EA Hydroplus?

Connect with a rep today!

SHER-WOOD EA Hydroplus is on our Color Express Platform!


Forget what you think you know about waterborne coatings!

Seize the benefits provided by waterborne solutions from Sherwin-Williams, including the revolutionary new SHER-WOOD® Environmentally Adaptive (EA) Hydroplus™ coating technology


Because of its consistent behavior in a wider window of environmental conditions, applicators won’t need to be constantly adjusting their application techniques depending on the weather. And that can significantly improve a shop’s productivity.

Todd Steiner

Technical Service Manager

SHER-WOOD EA Hydroplus Topcoat Highlights:

  • Environmentally Adaptive technology that provides consistent application and performance across a variety of environmental conditions
  • Formulated for use with our Color Express™ program to deliver tight color strength designed to provide excellent batch-to-batch consistency
  • Excellent flow, leveling and hang for a beautiful, smooth finish
  • Self-seal, with excellent hide in two coats
  • When properly applied, meets or exceeds KCMA test requirements
  • Low VOC content and GREENGUARD Gold certified to help shops meet sustainability goals

One of the technology’s biggest strengths is its ability to hang in vertical spraying applications without runs or sags. “This quality really changes the game in terms of how a waterborne coating can be applied vertically,” said Todd Steiner, Technical Service Training Manager, Sherwin-Williams. “Because of its consistent behavior in a wider window of environmental conditions, applicators won’t need to be constantly adjusting their application techniques depending on the weather. And that can significantly improve a shop’s productivity.”

“I’ve sprayed a lot of coatings in my career, many of them solvent-based,” Steiner added. “This isn’t like older-generation waterborne coatings. It lays extremely tight and truly offers the performance, look and finish of a solvent-borne product.”

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