Wooden garden furniture with coating that lasts up to 20 years

When Dutch designer Jan Willem Henssen wanted to breathe new life into an old idea, he turned to Covestro's R&D Department. The result? A range of wooden garden furniture that lasts up to 20 years without any maintenance whatsoever.
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A range that looks great and requires no cleaning, scraping or recoating. And best of all, it is extremely kind to the environment. "The idea of making furniture from discarded wooden crates and pallets was first explored by the famous Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld in the 1930s," says Jan Willem. "Since then, various other designers have experimented with the idea, but in 2010 I decided it was time to really push this eco-friendly, cost-effective idea to its full potential. Because I like wood, and I don't like waste."

Trials with linseed oil

Jan Willem began designing prototype models that tested various strategies in stability, aesthetics and ease of construction, keeping in mind the 'pallet look and feel'.  
"To continue the theme of eco-friendliness, we finished the prototypes with linseed oil – a natural, renewable material, that requires no primer or cross-linking chemicals," says Jan Willem. "Initial results were good, but we later found that linseed oil on unseasoned pallet wood becomes unstable and gets sticky in strong sunshine. Not really what you want in garden furniture."

Success with powder coatings

"Amazingly, the day after we discovered that linseed oil was not viable, I stumbled across an article on the internet about Covestro's work in powder coating resins – and the latest breakthrough in relatively low curing temperatures. This low-temperature curing meant that it could be applied to my pallet-wood furniture.  

What's more, the performance characteristics of this powder coating – in terms of scratch resistance, humidity resistance and chemical resistance – meant that it would significantly prolong the furniture's lifespan. So I immediately contacted the relevant departments and started tests with Jos Verlaak, Covestro's New Business Development Manager."

"We both instinctively knew that our newly developed single-coating powder resin for heat-sensitive substrates was the perfect finish for Jan Willem's chairs," says Jos. "Both the chairs and the resins have very strong eco credentials. But we needed to identify the best coating and curing processes for unseasoned pallet wood, so we spent many hours in our special coating laboratory testing various application pressures, coating thicknesses, and curing temperatures and times. Eventually, we found the best parameters to ensure excellent surface appearance and very high scratch and humidity resistance."

Frequently asked questions

How do we spray powder on standard 'non-conductive' MDF?

For application of the powder, moisture within the MDF is used for conductivity. A moisture content of 4-8% of total weight is sufficient to attract the powder. 

Do we require special MDF for powder coating?

No special MDF is needed for powder coating – although there are differences between available qualities and types.  

We advise evaluating the type of MDF you intend to use before making your products.  

Further, we recommend a conditioned storage area to control the MDF's moisture content. 

Is the oven I use for powder coating metal suitable for curing MDF too?

Most conventional curing ovens are convection ovens. Best results for MDF are reached with infrared radiation (IR) ovens.  

With IR ovens, the MDF's surface can be heated quickly to cure the powder coating, while its core stays relatively cool.  

With convection ovens, temperatures are often too high, or the MDF's core heats up too much because of the longer period needed to reach curing temperatures. 

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