The coatings industry is seeing a shift. Throughout this industry, coatings formulated with water as the liquefying agent are supplanting those made with chemical solvents. 

Market analysts at international market research firm Freedonia Group predict six percent global market growth for water-based paints used in manufacturing, maintenance, and specialty applications through 2020, compared to 2.6% growth for solvent-based formulations.1 According to the Paint Quality Institute, a paint advising and testing organization, about 80 percent of the household paints sold today are water-based.2 National Coatings states that water-based acrylic coatings have come to “dominate the paint and waterproof coatings industry.”3 Even Coatings World magazine reports that for the protective and specialty market, water-based coatings are projected to surpass solvent-based coatings by 2020.4

There are several reasons for this shift in preference, not the least of which relates to concerns over the environment and air quality. Because of their impact on air quality, volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions associated with solvent-based coatings have become a major focus of tightening restrictions by the EPA and other organizations. Water-based coatings offer a solution. Generally, they contain up to 80% water, and sometimes only small quantities of other solvents such as glycol ethers. Since U.S. and European regulations require water-based coating to have a VOC content of less than 3.5 pounds per gallon of water, they are, by design, seen as environmentally friendly.5

Another advantage of water-based coatings is lower odor. This makes them a more popular choice for home-use products, as well as those in confined spaces or areas with poor ventilation, such as fuel storage tanks. In these kinds of environments, prolonged exposure to solvent evaporation and concentration of flammable materials pose a very real risk.2

A third benefit offered by water-based coatings is easy clean-up.1 These types of coatings require less effort to remove from equipment, making them more convenient for consumers and more efficient for businesses. 

For companies involved in developing water-based coatings formulas, Sensient® Industrial Coatings offers a range of innovative colorant solutions which can be customized to meet each project’s requirements. 

Contact us to discuss options for your water-based coatings formula.

1.Zulandt, C. (December 6, 2016). Water-Based IndustrialCoatings: It’s Getting Easier Being Green. Retrieved August 12, 2018, from
2.Water-based coatings vs. solvent-based coatings. Retrieved August 12, 2018, from
3.Water-Based Acrylic Roof Coatings for Weatherproofing. Retrieved August 12, 2018, from
4.Water-Based Coatings in Protective & Specialty Market Forecast to Surpass Solvent-Based in 2020 (January 5, 2017). Retrieved August 12, 2018, from
5. Thomas, G.P. (April 30, 2013). Waterborne Coatings –Methods, Benefits, and Applications. Retrieved on August 12, 2018, from