An alkyd is a polyester modified by the addition of fatty acids and other components. The term alkyd is a modification of the original name “alcid”, reflecting the fact that they are derived from alcohol and organic acids. Alkyds are used in paints and in moulds for casting. They are the dominant resin or binder in most commercial “oil-based” coatings.
Alkyd paint or oil based paint, is popular in applications that require a high gloss, durable finish. They are the most suitable choice for furniture, cabinetry and trims. Alkyd paints provide a lustrous, heavy duty finish that stands up well to dirt and stains. This paint is also easy to clean repeatedly without losing its color. Because of their special properties, cost and potential toxicity, alkyd base paints are not typically used on walls. Professional painters use alkyd paints primarily on special surfaces where a different type of chemical binding is needed, or on specific areas where durability and finish are important.
The Makeup of Alkyd Paint
Although alkyd paints are known as oil based paints, they actually do not contain any oil in the basic composition. Alkyd paints differ from latex based paints in several aspects, including the thinner and binder used in the paint. The thinner improves the texture and flow of the paint so that it is easy to apply. In latex paints, the thinner is water, which evaporates once the paint has been applied onto a surface. In alkyd paints, the thinner is usually a chemical solvent such as spirits and alcohol. The binder is a crucial component of any paint. It influences the gripping properties of the paint and affects properties such as the gloss and shine, toughness and resilience of the finished paint layer. In alkyd paints, synthetic resins are used as the binders. In comparison, water based paints use latex as the binder.
Benefits of Alkyd Paint
Alkyd paints are durable and resistant to wear-and-tear. These paints are widely preferred for high traffic areas in a home such as hallways and play rooms for children. Also, these paints are resistant to humidity and moisture. As a result, they are good choices for kitchens, bathrooms and also cabinets and furniture. The lustrous finish is also resistant to stains. The paint can be wiped down for easy cleaning. Stains are not absorbed easily and discoloration does not set in. The paint retains a uniform sheen for a long time. Alkyd paints have superior adherence and they stick to any surface. It can be used to provide a durable finish on unfinished wood. You can apply alkyd paint over an existing layer of latex paint, but you cannot apply latex paint over alkyd paint. This is because the smooth glossy surface provides minimal adherence.
If you want to use latex paint over alkyd paint, you must prepare the surface beforehand and apply primer. Alkyd paints are thick and provide a durable coat over any surface.
Drawbacks of Alkyd Paints
The main drawback of alkyd paints is that they are not as environmentally friendly as latex paints. Because they use chemical solvents, they emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are toxic. Exposure to VOCs can cause health problems such as breathing disorders, nausea, headaches and is dangerous to babies, young children and pregnant women. When using alkyd paints, it is important to ensure you have adequate ventilation, and wear a respirator to prevent being overcome by the fumes. Remnants of alkyd paints are not easy to clean up. You must use thinners or solvents to remove alkyd paint from the brush or roller.
The Health Effects of Oil Based Paint
The dangers of oil-based paint range from cancer and poisoning to allergic reactions. Oil-based paint poisoning, for example, may occur when large amounts of paint get into your stomach or lungs, as MedlinePlus points out. Paint also can enter your system through your skin or eyes.
The primary risk is from the hydrocarbons in the paint, and symptoms include respiratory difficulty or coughing, rapid heartbeat, skin irritation and irritated or watering eyes. Unconsciousness, dizziness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal symptoms are common following the exposure to oil-based paint.
To stay safe, always work in a very well-ventilated area, opening windows and using fans to vent the room when working inside. Wear a protective mask while using oil-based paint, especially when spraying it, and other necessary Personal protective equipment (PPE’s) which could help reduce or completely eliminate any potential hazard.
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