Long before collision centers began to hear about waterborne paint, PPG was already immersed in it. In fact, PPG first introduced waterborne technology for OEM assembly plants back in 1986. Today, PPG waterborne basecoat systems offer the number one best-selling technology of its kind.

Continuously looking to improve and remaster the technology and chemistry needed to meet the highest demands, PPG remains 10 steps ahead of the game at all times. In light of that, one of PPG’s most recent launches is a single-stage waterborne system for use on vehicle interiors and engine bay repairs. This flawless system is a hit among painters in the industry and it’s just part of their continuous expansion and improvement when it comes to waterborne coatings.

Unlike competitive systems that may be polyurethane-based, PPG’s Envirobase technology, along with their waterborne basecoats, incorporates the latest, true latex resins. Their specially formulated acrylic waterborne latex resin is designed to do a number of things to make an easy-to-use product. PPG’s solid latex core delivers durable colors and their latex particles cling together for stability so that pigment and resin remain suspended and resist settling. Because the acrylic waterborne latex resins are engineered with unique, non-stir, anti-settle technology, you no longer need a mechanical mixing machine. The result of that creation is an agitation-free mixing room. Users simply tilt the toner bottle back and forth three to four times and that’s it! You’re ready to pour.

Painters no longer have to wait for toners to be agitated or experience the frustration that can come with mismatches as a result of improper agitation. Furthermore, PPG’s waterborne systems are superior over solvent-based technologies in many ways as there is less odor and improved air quality in the environment and work place. As a result of this, there is also more accurate mixing. Mechanical mixing, required with solvent-based systems, is time consuming, and if not done properly, can lead to poor color matches, lost productivity, and wasted product.

With PPG waterborne toners, there’s no need for a mechanical mixing system—just shake and pour. Toners pour easily, even in small amounts, for consistently accurate matches. But in all honesty, talk is cheap and the proof is in the pudding. One look at an applied coat of PPG waterborne basecoat, and it’s easy to recognize how its metallic orientation represents a vast improvement over solvent. With PPG waterborne, the uniform evaporation rate works in conjunction with the unique latex fingers to orient the metallic flakes in just the right position to provide the appropriate color travel from face to flop.

PPG waterborne users consistently rave about how much easier it is to achieve “invisible” blends, since they no longer experience mottling or color shifts when fading out the color. When blending with solvent, choosing the wrong reducer can increase color variability, and incorrect gun distance can cause poor metallic orientation and die back.

There is also less product needed with the PPG waterborne system. Customers will use approximately 25 percent less sprayable base, and 70-90 percent less reducer. The potential material savings is 25-30 percent, and when it comes to hazardous waste, PPG waterborne products generate up to 75 percent less hazardous waste than what is typically found with solvent basecoat applications.

The switch to waterborne typically requires few, if any, equipment changes. However, to take full advantage of the benefits of conversion, customers should be aware of equipment considerations regarding spray guns, air movement, and filtration.

Comprehensive training is an essential element of a successful switch to waterborne. To help shop owners, managers, and painters become comfortable with waterborne technology and equipment, PPG provides comprehensive training programs. We recently had the opportunity to visit the local PPG training center in Ontario, California, and it was there that we had a chance to sit down with paint legend Paul Stol and his trusty sidekick, Frank Ramos. At the time, they were in the midst of teaching a group of lowrider painters about waterborne technology and in the class they learned about the importance of spraying waterborne basecoats, flakes, candies, and pearls on their own paint panels. This two-day class consisted of product awareness, mixing of materials, spraying techniques, masking tape tricks, and laying out intricate styles of patterns. Each of the lowrider class painters started off creating a bold metal flake finish reminiscent of ’70s-era show cars and custom bikes with Ditzler Big Flake colors.

Offered in silver, gold, five primary and four color-shifting options, Ditzler Big Flake colors consist of large metallic flakes that can be added directly to the basecoat or be used as a ground coat for Radiance II. By doing so you will automatically create a mid-coat or pearl-coat effect. First thing this class found out was the flake material in the spray gun canister doesn’t have to be shaken like solvent flakes because the flake particles float to the top. Also, when the flake is sprayed onto the panel, each painter noticed that the silver flake lands and stands dried and in place at every angle possible. With solvent, the clears weigh down on a flake particle, causing it to flatten or to cause a chance to pull and run. Patience is a virtue here as well because painters who don’t understand waterborne have to learn the drying-time process.

Personally for me—a guy who knows all there is to know about custom painting, except maybe spraying—I learned things I never realized from this class because the instructor happens to be one of the best painters out there. With decades of skill, experience, passion, and talent, the instructors taught the class with a level of knowledge and firsthand experience that’s worth its weight in gold. Being able to join the class provided a whirlwind of emotions and a new level of education that left me overwhelmed. From silver flake to the final clear finish, each student posed with their final creation and would be the first to tell you that PPG’s waterborne versus solvent system is not only a better product in terms of application and longevity, but also superior when it comes to luster, depth, and clarity.