Why are so many woodworkers switching to water-based products?
No woodworker who uses chemically-derived products can have failed to notice the changes that have been arriving over the past decade or so. Paints, varnishes, adhesives, lacquers, sealants…we’re being offered new, water-based alternatives when, a generation or so ago, we’d have chosen oil-based as a matter of course.
Woodworkers are known to be conservative in their product choices, opting for tried-and-tested solutions. Why are so many Redwood customers making the switch to water-based products?
For decades, the companies that sold finishing products put their research efforts into oil-based technologies. Not surprisingly, it was hydrocarbon products that made the running. Over the last decade, that trend has reversed, as manufacturers began pouring their best efforts into water-based finishes. Today’s high-quality water-based paints and varnishes provide a great alternative to oil-based products.
Switching to water-based products enables companies to reduce their emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These pernicious chemicals, associated with all kinds of health problems, are released when oil-based solvents evaporate. They’re being targeted by a raft of international legislation, and the restrictions on their use get tighter by the year. Many of our customers anticipate a complete crackdown…and they’re jumping before they’re pushed.
There’s no doubt that ‘bottom line’ concerns like those above inform many purchasing decisions, but we’ve also noticed customers’ growing awareness of ESG (environmental, social and governance) ethical frameworks in their own decision-making processes and those of their clients. Those concerns, which underpin benchmarks like GRESB in real estate and FISP in furniture manufacture, are increasingly significant. Switching away from oil-based products is a great way for your company to check the right boxes and improve its standing.
Of course, you don’t need a customer with a clipboard to recognise the importance of minimising your environmental impact. Plenty of Redwood customers have made the switch to water-based because of their own concerns about the future of their children and grandchildren.
Cost is a key consideration and although quality water-based and solvent-based products are largely similar in price at the moment, this is expected to change.
Due to the huge increase in oil prices, we are already seeing solvent-based products rapidly increasing in price. Manufacturers are now investing more time and effort into water-based products and many customers have made the decision to switch to water-based products as a result, as manufacturers are holding the price of water-based products.
No matter how sophisticated, the older finishes are ultimately by-products of the petrochemical industry. For years, the laws of supply and demand have been pushing up the cost of anything derived from fossil hydrocarbons…and that was before the war in Ukraine highlighted their vulnerability to price spikes.
What sort of world do we want to leave to the generations yet to come? Give us a ring to discuss how your choices in wood finishing products affect the big picture.