The Teflon Surface Protectors of today are only distant cousins of the original Teflon fluoropolymer discovered by the DuPont Chemical Co. over 50 years ago.

The Teflon Surface Protectors of today, which provide superior oil and stain repellency and surface washability in three of Cabot’s exterior wood finishes, are only distant cousins of the original Teflon fluoropolymer discovered by the DuPont Chemical Co. over 50 years ago.

That original Teflon coating — still used worldwide to give pots, pans and other cookware a durable, nonstick surface — later evolved into a new family of fluorochemicals designed to prevent stains in carpets, and is marketed under the Stainmaster® tradename.

Today’s derivatives, called fluorosurfactants, were developed about six years ago by DuPont specifically for the coatings industry. Cabot is the first U.S. coatings manufacturer licensed to market exterior architectural finishes made with these additives.

How Teflon Works

A fluorosurfactant, when added to paint, enables the product to soak deeply into the wood, providing a thicker coat for added protection. A fluorosurfactant also minimizes foam when applying the product, so a nice smooth coat of paint can be applied with minimal experience.

Teflon Surface Protector works by lowering surface tension between the surface (coating) and a contaminant (oil, grease and dirt). A drop of oil and grease, for example, will bead up at a high contact angle on a Teflon-treated surface and will not spread out or penetrate into the substrate (see Figures 1 and 2), making the cleaning process much easier. Teflon in coatings also provides anti-blocking properties that help keep painted and stained surfaces from sticking together, as when used on window sashes, jambs, and doors.

These three qualities were what convinced Cabot to first use Teflon Surface Protector in its Solid Color Decking Stain formulation. Decks almost always experience staining from such things as barbecue grill grease splatters, food accidents and spilled drinks. The unique properties of Teflon provide an ideal solution to this problem. Decks finished with Solid Color Decking Stain with Teflon clean up simply and easily with soap and water. In addition, the anti-blocking properties of Teflon mean furniture won’t stick to deck surfaces on hot summer days as it could when other latex finishes are used.

Expanding Applications

The immediate success and growing demand for Solid Color Decking Stain with Teflon, led Cabot to test and eventually market its reformulated, all-purpose, 100%-acrylic exterior paint, The Finish with Teflon Surface Protector.

The same properties that made Teflon an effective additive for the deck stain — oil and water repellency, ease of cleaning, anti-blocking and improved leveling — seemed appropriate for The Finish, which was designed for use on all siding and trim, including new and painted wood, vinyl, metal, and masonry. Airborne contaminants and fungus growth such as mildew are unable to penetrate or effectively adhere to the Teflon-protected barrier, and can be washed away with soap and water.

Teflon provides superior oil and water repellency in surface coatings, making it a natural component for Cabot Waterproofing, the third and latest Cabot product to incorporate the additive, although this Teflon fluorosurfactant had somewhat different genetics than its sister additive.

Cabot Waterproofing is a water-based, silicone coating designed to protect wood, brick and concrete/masonry from the absorption of water. Its silicone/Teflon formulation is superior to wax-based products. A key advantage of a fluorosurfactant like Teflon is that it continually migrates to the surface; when it begins to wear, more Teflon migrates to the surface to continue working. When wax migrates to the surface and is worn away, it’s gone and its effect is permanently lost.

Testing The Formulation

DuPont requires that products licensed to carry the “Made with Teflon” logo meet stringent performance requirements both before and after the additive becomes part of the final formulation. Cabot Solid Color Decking Stain was ready to market without Teflon when the decision was made to include the additive. DuPont carried out several tests of the base formula’s stain-removal properties and determined surface energies of oil before determining (through further testing) what percentage of Teflon should be added to meet their final performance standards. Like the deck stain, this process is mandatory by DuPont’s standards and was performed on all Cabot products that carry the Teflon logo.