It’s not surprising that demand for Direct-to-Metal (DTM) coatings is on the rise. Boasting a whole host of cost savings, efficiencies and environmental benefits, the science allows one coat of paint to replace traditional primer/topcoat duos.
Curious business owners want to know how DTM coatings stack up. Are they durable? Economical? Sustainable?
Phil Robinson, Market Segment Manager for General Industrial Coatings at BASF, graciously takes the time to answer all our pressing questions.
What are the most common applications for Direct-to-Metal coatings?
Phil Robinson: Any light- to medium-duty industrial application where there is a need for protection from the elements, such as corrosion or UV degradation, has the potential to use a Direct-to-Metal coating. Examples of these applications might include interior platforms in industrial spaces, handrails, tanks, and certain piping applications.
How do these coatings save time and reduce cost?
PR: Since DTM products don’t require a primer, you're only applying one coat versus two. With fewer coats, there's a savings in time, labor, and subsequently money. Additionally, there is less material needed. Not only is there the reduction in an entire coat but the opportunity for over-spray is also reduced, further eliminating wasted material. In the end, you get the same amount of protection and there's less waste associated with fewer coats.
How have Direct-to-Metal coatings evolved?
PR: I would say there's continuous improvement in the performance of these coatings. You see increases in corrosion resistance and increases in protection from UV degradation. Overall performance continues to evolve from a sustainability standpoint. Formulations continue to push toward lower VOCs. The chemistry has gotten better, and as the chemistry continues to get better, there are lower VOCs, meaning lower unwanted emissions in the atmosphere.
Are they more durable than some coatings that have a primer and topcoat as well?
PR: It depends on the type of chemistry in play. It’s important to choose the right chemistry for the intended application.
For example: If you were coating the outside of a boat that's sea bearing and is going to sit in the ocean, a Direct-to-Metal coating would not be the best choice.
What about colors and finish?
PR: I'd say there's no difference in the general industrial segment in color palette from Direct-to-Metal to a traditional primer and topcoat application. The color palette, however, is not as diverse as the architectural segment. There are the basic primary colors: yellows, reds, blacks, whites, grays, and greens. That's pretty much where it stops.
Are there big trends that you've noticed?
There are a few big trends in DTM that never really go away: increases in technology, lowering the VOCs, and improved ease of application. The easier you can coat it, the less labor that's being used. We are always looking to reduce the required preparation of the substrate. Any time that you don't have to spend as much time preparing the substrate, you're also going to see subsequent labor cost savings.
How much surface preparation is needed before applying a DTM coating?
Ultimately, there isn’t a primer needed with DTM. However, I think that in both a primer and topcoat application and a DTM application there is going to be a similar amount of preparation of the substrate needed. That's an area where we're always looking to advance our technology.
What about the environmental impact?
PR: When using both a primer and a topcoat VOCs are emitted with the application of both the primer and the topcoat. With a single layer application, like DTM, there's only one layer being applied, and therefore only one opportunity for the VOCs to escape.
Is there a demand for more DTM products?
Yes. I would say there absolutely is an increased demand for Direct-to-Metal for the obvious benefits: significant time, labor, and material savings all result in overall cost reductions. Add to that the sustainability benefits of emitting less VOCs. As long as the application is chosen correctly, you’re not giving up performance attributes. You get the same performance with the other ancillary benefits.