Changing Habits

The past five years have seen significant and continuing change in the way paint and decorative coatings are being sold and utilised across the market place, reports Jeff Pura.
Three main factors appear to be directing these changes: Technical – The most obvious are those changes in the health and safety aspects of paint. These include the need to utilise more environmentally acceptable raw materials while simultaneously eliminating the use of undesirable materials such as solvents, as well as maintaining the almost 6:1 ratio that water-based paint has had over solvent during the past decade.

Economic – Changes forced on the market by economic matters, including the Global Financial Crisis. The obvious downturn in paint sales/production (Figs. 1 & 2) is aligned with a general community belt tightening, which in turn has seen an increase in DIY areas. Style and Décor – Differing ways to show off our homes resulting from changes in decorating ideas and the use of popularist or fad colour schemes affect the nature and type of paint and coatings we use. There has been a noticeable increase in exposed timber around the house – floors, walls, ceiling beams, decking areas – all demanding newer, better and safer coatings. Again, water based products are the predominant choice, especially in the DIY world where an increasing number of women actually do the painting around the home. The 6% increase in woodcare products since 2005 (Fig. 3) clearly reflects the public’s desire to display treated and/or decorated wood surfaces – interior and exterior – around their homes. Again the majority of these products, about 5:1, are water based.

Technical

Without rehashing wearisome debates about global warming, there is no doubt that the paint and coatings industries has come more under fire from solvent emissions issues during the past five to eight years. Anagrams such as VOC (volatile organic compounds) are as commonplace as Twitter and Facebook, with good reason. This century, factory areas in Southern China have continually emitted over 35,000 tonnes of VOC’s annually. China has enjoyed phenomenal economic growth during the past 10 years and was consequently reluctant to enforce environmental change. However, Beijing has been changed tact during the past 18 months. For example, many new paint factories in this region are only being issued with water-based production licenses that are strictly enforced.
Style and Décor

The past 5-8 years has seen attitudinal changes in the way we want our homes to look. Some people will say that carpets are a thing of the past and that more exposed wood surfaces are appearing. These may be as result of new home constructions that have an increased emphasis on exposed beams and high ceilings, or polished/treated floor boards that have been carpeted over for decades. Exterior decking – using increased amounts of hardwoods – are being seen all with, mainly, water-based woodcare products.

Jeffrey Pura is a consultant to the paint, surface coatings and printing industries and has worked and lectured at the University level in these areas for almost 40 years. The input of data and other information from Richard Phillips, Executive Director of the Australia Paint Manufacturers Association, is gratefully acknowledged.