Global Wood Coatings Market: Key Nanotechnology Applications

Wood has several weaknesses, such as being delicate, non-flexible, and non-durable due to termite attacks and other factors. Applying surface coatings is one of the best ways to reduce weathering degradation. However, depending on the severity of exposure and the type and properties of the coatings, refinishing is needed every few years. According to Inkwood Research, the global wood coatings market is expected to project a CAGR of 4.45% during the forecast period, 2024-2032.

One approach to enhance the functionality and end-user value of nanocoatings is the addition of nanoparticles. These nanoparticles have very large surface-to-volume ratios due to their morphology, allowing them to interact intensively with their surroundings, given their nano size. Nanotechnology has been utilized in many sciences and can be used to improve the quality of many materials, including wood and wood composites. Nanotechnology in wood-based products thus warrants attention from all industry stakeholders.

This blog explores the nanotechnology applications in the global wood coatings market.

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Wood Coatings Market: Nanotechnology Applications

  • Nanoadditives for Durability Improvement

Nanocoatings enhance the durability of wood and non-wood products by utilizing nanoparticles and nano-delivery systems to make changes at the molecular level. One primary goal of these coatings is to inhibit the growth of microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria. Nanosized particles of metal oxides, including zinc oxide (ZnO), titanium oxide (TiO2), and cerium oxide (CeO2), have demonstrated strong antimicrobial properties.

Research has focused on the direct deposition of nanoparticles onto wood surfaces or the functionalization of wood surfaces with nanoparticles. For instance, ZnO nanoparticles were successfully fabricated on bamboo timber surfaces using a simple low-temperature wet chemical method based on sol-gel-prepared ZnO seed layers. The findings showed that the treated bamboo timber had improved resistance against Aspergillus niger and Penicillium citrinum, though it had poor resistance against Trichoderma viride.

Graphene also exhibits superior antibacterial properties. Consequently, a combination of reduced graphene oxide and nano-ZnO has been used to coat bamboo-based outdoor materials through a two-step dip-dry and hydrothermal process, significantly enhancing mold resistance and antibacterial activity. Similarly, nanostructured ZnO created through a hydrothermal process has effectively protected wood surfaces from biodeterioration.

  • Nanoadditives for Water Absorption Improvement 

Wood is well known to be susceptible to water or moisture due to the hydrophilic nature of its cell wall polymer and its capillary-porous structure. The interaction between wood and water leads to biodegradation, dimensional instability, and accelerated weathering. Although conventional chemical modifications are used to enhance the hydrophobicity of wood, they do not completely prevent water accessibility. Additionally, the chemicals used in these treatments can be hazardous. As an alternative, nanotechnology is employed for wood modification and functionalization. Incorporating nanoparticles into polymeric coatings helps reduce water absorption on wood surfaces. Two main approaches are used to integrate nanoparticles into coatings: solution blending and in situ addition.

In the solution blending approach, a solvent is combined with the polymer before being applied to wood surfaces through methods like dipping, brushing, or spraying. The second approach, in situ addition, involves a chemical process where compounds are added directly to monomers, followed by polymerization. Nanoparticles are synthesized in situ on the wood surface through chemical reactions such as hydrothermal methods or sol-gel deposition.

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  • Nanoadditives for Mechanical Properties Improvement 

Inorganic particles integrated into organic polymers are commonly used in wood coatings to enhance mechanical properties. As fillers, the rigidity and hardness of the inorganic materials combine effectively with the polymer’s processability. However, when applied in micron size, inorganic particles have disadvantages, such as reducing the flexibility of the material and decreasing the transparency of the coating system.

The utilization of inorganic particles in nanosize increases the surface area and the ratio of the interfacial area, which subsequently influences the properties of the raw material. Recent studies have investigated using nanocellulose as a renewable reinforcement to develop a bio-based nanocomposite coating system with improved performance.

Nanosilica is another common nanoparticle applied to improve mechanical properties. Among the advantages of using nano-silica are its high hardness and the ability to be easily chemically modified to enhance its compatibility with the polymer matrix. (Source)

Future of Nanotechnology in the Wood Coatings Market

The building and construction industry is increasingly incorporating nano-technology-based coatings to enhance the performance, durability, and aesthetic appeal of structures. These coatings offer several advantages, notably in providing enhanced protection against environmental factors like UV rays, water, and air pollution. For instance, applying nanocoatings to building façades can mitigate the accumulation of dirt and grime, preventing discoloration and premature aging while safeguarding the structure against moisture and other environmental stressors. (Source)

Moreover, certain nanocoatings can mitigate heat transfer, effectively cooling buildings during hot weather and lessening reliance on air conditioning. Additionally, they can regulate light absorption and reflection, thereby enhancing energy efficiency by reducing the need for artificial lighting.

The adoption of nanotechnology-based coatings also presents notable sustainability benefits in the global wood coatings market. Many of these coatings utilize eco-friendly materials and boast prolonged durability, minimizing the frequency of maintenance and replacement. This not only curtails waste but also diminishes the environmental footprint associated with building and construction endeavors.

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  1. How are nanomaterials used in wood coatings?
    In wood coatings, nanomaterials are incorporated to enhance various properties such as durability, water resistance, and UV protection. These materials, when dispersed within the coating formulation, create a densely packed network that provides superior barrier properties and adhesion to the wood surface.
  2. Are nanomaterial-based wood coatings safe for use?
    Yes, nanomaterial-based wood coatings are generally safe when formulated and applied according to regulatory guidelines. However, it’s essential to ensure that the coatings meet safety standards and regulations set by relevant authorities. Additionally, proper handling and disposal practices should be observed to minimize any potential risks associated with nanomaterials.
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