Waterborne – a real alternative to solventborne coatings for industrial applications?

Waterborne coatings for industrial applications in the Refinish Industry have been available for many years, but their adoption has been limited. That’s now beginning to change.

In the past, the main impetus for switching from solventborne was the introduction of stricter volatile organic component (VOC) regulations. However, the performance of waterborne coatings and their application equipment and technology have improved over the last years. International consumer trends favouring products that address problems of air and water pollution and help mitigate the climate change are all now combining to further accelerate this shift.

Let’s take a look at some of the industries and applications that are already benefiting from a move to water based technology and dispel some of the myths surrounding their performance.                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Waterborne direct-to-metal that’s as efficient as solventborne? That’s just not possible. 

Wrong! Not only is it possible, it’s already happening.

Direct-to-metal (DTM) coatings deliver the performance of a traditional primer-topcoat system, but in one coat. As a result, application times and material costs can be reduced, leading to increased cost savings and process efficiencies.

Most DTM systems are still solventborne but due to advances in formulation, products like Selemix Waterborne Single Stage are now competing head to head with solventborne solutions and are winning customers and market share from them.

Selemix customers gain the added VOC reduction and wider health and safety benefits that a waterborne system can deliver, but without any need to compromise on the ease of application, finish quality, cost and other process efficiencies they expect from a DTM system.

Companies with larger coating facilities such as manufacturers of containers, storage units, machinery, metal applications, signage or shutters, for example, are already reaping the benefits, but waterborne DTM is suitable for most light to medium industrial fabrication.

Waterborne DTM’s? It’s a win, win solution.


A waterborne system that’s as durable as solventborne? I don’t believe it.

The idea that only solventborne coatings can deliver excellent durability resistance to corrosion and chemicals has been completely discredited in the past few years.

Don’t believe it? Then believe the ISO – the International Organisation for Standardisation.

When tested to the industry standard ISO-12944-6 : 2018, a blend of Selemix WB Single Stage acrylic gloss and matt achieved one of highest ratings for medium corrosivity (C3VH), high corrosivity (C4H) and very high industrial corrosivity (C5M).

And that means that industries needing coatings for use in aggressive corrosion environments such as containers, cabins, generators, metal fabrication or machinery, for example, can reliably and confidently specify waterborne systems.

As can those who need a high degree of effectiveness against chemicals.

For example, waterborne systems such as Selemix Waterborne Single Stage also pass the most aggressive Fluedex testing required by transformer manufacturers and can withstand direct contact with liquid nitrogen (-196 degrees) without delamination or loss of flexibility after exposure, making it suitable for use in chemical plants or other industries that require complete confidence in the coatings they specify for use at low temperatures.

Want durability? It’s time to think waterborne.


Waterborne impact resistance is as good as solventborne? I don’t think so!

Then think again.

You won’t be surprised to learn that manufacturers in the earthmoving, construction, rock crushing and signal warning industries place a high value on ensuring that the coatings they use for their products can withstand regular impact resistance. After all, that’s exactly what they are likely to experience!

However, the fact that many of those same manufacturers are confidently turning to waterborne DTM’s such as Selemix WB Single Stage instead of a traditional solventborne coatings because of their inherent impact resistance properties may be a revelation.

The truth is that waterborne DTM’s now deliver outstanding impact resistance.

We were so confident that we ran a 22 tonne fork lift truck over a panel painted with Selemix WB Single Stage.

The result? Completely unaffected!

And whilst we don’t suggest you go to those lengths, the point remains; if you’re concerned about impact resistance, don’t be concerned about using a waterborne system.


Only solventborne can deal with graffiti. Right?

Wrong! Any objects exposed to the public such as lights, bridges, stairs, elevators or trains are notoriously prone to graffiti. In the past, specifiers would choose a solventborne coating to deal with this issue, but that’s now starting to change.

The advanced formulations in the latest waterborne coating systems such as Selemix WB Single Stage have proven to be excellent at delivering a coating that can withstand even the harshest graffiti environments and of course they have the added environmental VOC benefits - particularly helpful when applying in public areas.

Selemix WB Single Stage also has a smoke and fire certificate according to the EN45545 norm to allow it to paint the interior of trains - one of the toughest graffiti environments there is.

Graffiti isn’t a problem, when you choose Selemix WB Single Stage.


Of course, we’re all aware that choosing a waterborne solution makes good sense for the environment, for employees and for customers.

But it’s not just compliance solution. For many industries and applications, it’s simply better.