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Open AccessArticle

Improving the Performance of Clear Coatings on Wood through the Aggregation of Marginal Gains

Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), Høgskoleveien 8, 1431 ÅS, Norway
Resins, Research & Technology, Arclin, Inc., Springfield, OR 97477, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Alessandro Lavacchi
Coatings 2016, 6(4), 66;
Received: 17 September 2016 / Revised: 12 November 2016 / Accepted: 21 November 2016 / Published: 26 November 2016
PDF [4740 KB, uploaded 26 November 2016]


Remarkable increases in the performance of complex systems can be achieved by a collective approach to optimizing individual factors that influence performance. This approach, termed the aggregation of marginal gains, is tested here as a means of improving the performance of exterior clear-coatings. We focused on five factors that influence clear-coating performance: dimensional stability of wood; photostability of the wood surface; moisture ingress via end-grain; coating flexibility and photostability; and finally coating thickness. We performed preliminary research to select effective wood pre-treatments and durable clear-coatings, and then tested coating systems with good solutions to each of the aforementioned issues (factors). Red oak and radiata pine panels were modified with PF-resin, end-sealed, and thick acrylic, alkyd or spar varnishes were applied to the panels. Panels were exposed to the weather and the level of coating defects was assessed every year over a 4-year period. All of the coatings are performing well on PF-modified pine after 4 years’ outdoor exposure. In contrast, coatings failed after 2 years on unmodified pine and they are failing on PF-modified oak. We conclude that our approach shows promise. Future research will build on the current work by developing solutions to additional factors that influence clear-coating performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: clear coating; varnish; PF resin; radiata pine; red oak; weathering clear coating; varnish; PF resin; radiata pine; red oak; weathering

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Evans, P.D.; Vollmer, S.; Kim, J.D.W.; Chan, G.; Kraushaar Gibson, S. Improving the Performance of Clear Coatings on Wood through the Aggregation of Marginal Gains. Coatings 2016, 6, 66.

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