The paints, coatings and varnishes manufacturing sector in Europe is worth an estimated €20billion, supporting approximately 4130 SMEs and is responsible for employing 59,600 people within these SMEs. In particular, the wood coatings sector is facing a number of threats. The sector is coming under increasing pressure from low cost imports from Asia that have low solids content and subsequently poor durability. There is a need in Europe to maximise the use of timber as a sustainable resource within the built environment. For coated components including windows, doors and cladding this requires maximising service life and minimising maintenance costs. Wood coatings have themselves undergone considerable change in response to environmental and other legislation and require substantial testing to establish or predict service life across different wood species and climatic zones. The pace of development and potential long life of modern coatings means that real life durability data will not be available when new products are brought to the market place and this creates a risk which affects SME joinery manufacturers and applicators. Ultimately it will also affect the downstream customer and consumers who in the absence of credible guarantees may use less sustainable substrates for components, such as uPVC or Aluminium. A response to this problem has been the emergence of national and institution certification schemes. However these can effectively amount to barriers to trade between countries and do not rigorously address the issue of service life prediction. The SERVOWOOD project will address this issue by developing a service life prediction methodology which can be incorporated into the portfolio of European Standards for exterior wood coatings. To this end the project brings together experts on wood coatings from the relevant European Standards Committee with representatives from trade associations and others in the supply chain.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA-Research Executive Agency http://ec.europa.eu/rea (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement number FP7-SME-2013-606576