High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

There’s a lot of talk about high solids coatings among industrial coatings professionals these days. But outside of the circle of experts (and sometimes even within it), the concept can be a little fuzzy. Here’s a visual breakdown that hopefully simplifies main principals at work when we refer to high, or even 100%, solids coatings.

High solid coatings, even higher coverage

What are you really buying with your industrial coatings? The truth is, with low solids coatings, much of the liquid that’s contained in the can will evaporate. Low solids coatings are largely made up of solvents, which exist only to make the actual coating (or “binder”) easier to apply. High and 100% solids coatings, on the other hand, have been engineered to be applied without the help of a solvent.

More mils, fewer coats

Paint specifi­cations usually designate a mil thickness that a coating should reach on the surface of the application. Since solvents evaporate once a coating has been applied (usually as a result of exposure to oxygen), more coating must be applied once a solvent has completely evaporated. This is the difference between the wet ­film thickness (WFT) and the dry fi­lm thickness (DFT) of a coating. A specification aiming for a 20-mil DFT out of a 50% solid coating, for instance, would require two coats at 20 mils, whereas a 100% solid would require only one coat.

Why limit volatile organic compounds?

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates the emission of VOCs through what is known as the Architectural Rule for Volatile Organic Compounds. This rule limits the amount of VOCs manufacturers are able to emit during operation and can result in fees for exceeding the limits.


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High Solids Coatings: A Visual Breakdown