Zar UltraMax Urethane

Hybrid Coatings?

The auto industry isn’t the only one that has been experimenting with hybrid technologies in recent years. It’s been a transitional time in the paint world as well. Many of the changes taking place are driven by tighter regulations that government is placing on paint manufacturers to create products that are lower in VOC’s and more environmentally friendly.

The major manufacturers are putting their R&D dollars into waterborne formulations to meet stricter EPA standards. This makes for a particularly interesting time in the world of interior clear wood coatings, a category that for decades has been dominated by solvent based products.

Historically, some categories of interior finishes, such as primers and paints that are applied to walls and ceilings, have been latex, so a paint contractor’s product choices haven’t been compromised in these areas. In fact, there have been notable improvements made by many manufacturers on those existing technologies.

What About Wood Finishes?

Waterborne interior wood finishes, on the other hand, haven’t advanced on as a large a scale. Oil based clear finishes have long been considered superior in application and performance for interior wood finishing situations. If manufacturers continue to phase out oils, and clear waterborne technologies aren’t improved, wood finishers are in trouble.

ZAR Ultramax Urethane

Zar Ultramax

Zar Ultramax Satin OMU

The waterborne oil modified (OMU) is a hybrid coating – an oil urethane suspended in a waterborne platform.

This means that it looks, spreads and cleans up like a waterborne, but when it is dry, you are left with an oil type of finish.

Faster dry times make for less likelihood of airborne dust contamination while tacking up.

Working characteristics:

  • low odor
  • easy to spread
  • reasonable open time
  • quick dry times
  • scuff sands with minimal abrasive load
  • applies well by brush and sprayer
  • cured finish is “oil like”

Not Low VOC

The one downside to Ultramax is that it comes with a higher (250g/l) VOC rating than most of us would like to see in a waterborne interior product.

This condition can only be improved as manufacturers are able to obtain higher quality resins from their own suppliers. Paint contractors and manufacturers have a shared interest in achieving oil based performance in waterborne products. Paint contractors should not have to settle for the best seller of the biggest name in polyurethane. We need high performance waterbased coatings geared to clear wood finishes at a professional level.

While this market segment is small, it is critical. We applaud ZAR for a good start with Ultramax.


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  1. barry mendelewicz says:

    Our painting contractor is using ZAR Solid over our 12 year old wood siding, I’m not familiar with the product, as we are exposed to snow, icy and windy conditions at high elevation, how would you rate the product for this application?

  2. kiumars says:

    which type of you product its good for smc door wood gran ?
    how to apply it on the surface
    if we produce 100 door /day
    which method its better to apply the color ?

  3. Have always liked the Zar urethanes. Used it on the last project and am using it on the next. It really seems to hold up to the weather waterfront homes encounter.

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