The Advantages of 1K Water-based Coatings vs 2K Solvent-based

The Advantages of 1K Water-based Coatings vs 2K Solvent-based

Protecting your staff, your business and the environment.

A number of coatings used for PVCu applications are formulated using 2K solvent-based technology ; meaning they are two component solvent-based systems that use a hardener as a curing agent. The hardener ensures an accelerated cure process and the creation of a hard dry film but by its very nature, the 2K technology presents the user with a number of potential concerns that must be properly addressed for these products to be used safely:

  • Operator Health & Safety

2K coating products typically use an isocyanate based hardener, which is a family of materials subject to strict regulatory controls due to its hazardous nature and the severe impact it can have on anyone who comes into unprotected contact with them.

Exposure to isocyanates through the application or cleaning process can cause skin irritation, dermatitis and respiratory sensitisation, which can lead to asthma, the major health risk associated with these chemicals.  Isocyanate exposure is one of the leading causes of occupational asthma, with spray operators having an 80 x greater chance of developing it than an average manufacturing employee. This is irreversible once developed and leads to employees being unable to continue with a job in the spraying or coating sector.

When a coating is applied by spraying a significant proportion of the paint will not transfer to the substrate but remain suspended in the air. Air fed breathing apparatus must therefore be used at all times by anyone in the spray booth and cleaning areas. The operator cannot lift this mask to check spray in the booth and it should also be worn while cleaning the equipment.

Due to the high risks involved, the employer must ensure regular urine and lung function tests for all operators exposed to regular contact with isocyanate.

  • Increased Waste and Disposal Costs

Once the hardener is added to the coating the clock starts. When activated most products have a pot life of less than 8hrs and when spraying is complete any remaining product must be disposed of. Although operators learn and become more accurate overtime, they will always have to over make by at least 5 to 10%, all of which has to go in the bin and be taken away as a hazardous waste at a premium cost. The mixing process is often done in one use, disposable plastic measuring pots, on larger jobs multiple cups need to be used adding to more significant waste.

  • Product Hazard and Flammability

Isocyanate based products are by their nature both hazardous and flammable and will therefore require special storage and disposal provision. Using 2K solvent-based coatings, will also require the regular use of solvent-based cleaning fluids which equally have their own health and safety issues and special storage provision due to their flammability.

  • Managing Associated Risks

The risks associated with using solvent-based 2K products need to be carefully managed by the employer. When performing a health and safety risk assessment under COSHH guidelines, it is important to identify any risks associated with hazardous substances (ISBN:9780717664863). Choosing the right control measures associated with solvent-based 2K coatings is key in minimising the related risks and impacts on your staff and the environment. According to COSHH, the highest priority control measure is –

“Eliminate the use of a harmful product or substance and use a safer one.”


Water-based 1K coatings – Improving safety and reduced costs

Alternative 1K water-based coatings avoid the concerns of 2K solvent-based coatings due to some of their key properties:

  • High solids, single coat 1K paint system
  • Isocyanate free
  • Significantly reduced VOC levels
  • Significantly lower health and safety risk
  • Substantially reduced environmental impact
  • Easier and safer clean-up (water used as cleaning ‘solvent’)
  • Elimination of hazardous waste and related disposal costs
  • No fire risk from handling, storage or clean-up

The ProKolor ZP 2400 series of 1K water-based coatings, specifically developed by Berger-Zobel GmbH for application on to PVCu construction products, offers a superior alternative to traditional 1K and 2K solvent-based products. Selecting ZP 2400 for your PVCu paint requirements will fulfil your business commitment to COSHH regulations and improve the safety of the workplace for your staff.

ProKolor® is a specialty coatings company supplying market-leading, water-based coatings and related paint services and expertise to support PVCu window and door fabricators grow by offering their products in an unlimited choice of colours. We work directly with our customers to support them to adopt a true ‘colour on-demand’ operating model that will differentiate them from their competitors and add real value to their businesses; with top line growth, reduced inventory levels and improved profitability.

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