Wood coatings

Research topic

Paints and varnishes for wood are not only a decorative design medium but also protect the wood against environmental influences, abrasion and fire. We develop functional wood coatings for interior and exterior applications. The main focus of our development work is formed by the combination of binder synthesis and paint formulation as well as the utilization of bio-based starting materials. Our area of expertise covers water-dilutable dispersions, reactive systems, and UV-cross-linkable coatings. 

Honey-colored liquid drips from an applicator onto a beechwood surface.
© Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau
Varnish application to a wooden surface.

Binder synthesis

In the development of binders, we utilize industrial polymerization techniques. For the synthesis of polyesters, polyurethanes and polyacrylates, we increasingly use renewable raw materials from oleochemistry and saccharide chemistry. These include polyurethane dispersions with a high organic content, acrylates on the basis of sugar molecules, and UV-cross-linkable itaconates as acrylate substitutes. A further focus is on the utilization and modification of nanocellulose which, by nature, possesses particularly advantageous properties.

Furthermore, we perform research into the in-situ integration of functional properties such as hydrophobicity, weathering stability, biocidal action and fire protection. These properties are often achieved through the application of bio-based synthesis components. 

Paint formulation

In the subsequent formulation and application of the paints, the focus is primarily directed at the technical properties of the paints. We optimize market-relevant properties such as durability, hydrophobicity, oleophobicity, substrate adhesion, scratch resistance and gloss. In addition, we develop coatings with improved long-term fire protection. 


Durability / Weathering

A particular focus of our research addresses the assessment and optimization of the durability of coatings in outdoor applications. We develop methods which allow a better prediction of weather-related paint aging and offer standardized tests for natural and accelerated weathering. 


Holistic approach

Our expertise is, however, not restricted to many years of experience in the synthesis, formulation, characterization and testing of wood coatings: As a result of the immense wealth of knowledge in wood research which the Fraunhofer WKI has accumulated since 1946, we are able to take a holistic approach, thereby providing customized solutions for our customers.