Combine Excellent Appearance and Transparency with Environmental Respect

The Italian-based ICA Group, located in Civitanova Marche, Italy, is a specialist in the manufacture of wood coatings. In collaboration with Giardina Officine Aeromeccaniche, it developed coating cycles that make it possible to achieve finishes that are easily comparable to those achieved using traditional, solventborne products, but with a drastic reduction in environmental impact.

Furniture Industry

Resistance to change is a deeply rooted phenomenon within the reproduction furniture industry. The need to maintain high levels of transparency in the finish has constrained the industry, for many years, to use nothing but nitro-based coatings, which seemed to be the only type of coating able to guarantee the required standards of finish. These days, however, there are no longer any differences in quality between waterborne and solventborne coating cycles (this applies both to transparent finishes and to lacquered, glazed finishes).

ICA has developed cutting-edge waterborne coating cycles that have what it takes to ensure that the final appearance of the coated item remains intact. Alongside its transparent antiquing waterborne cycle, which makes it possible to achieve exceptional transparency, the company now offers a lacquered, glazed, bicolor waterborne cycle that is perfect for adding a touch of the new to a classic piece of furniture. Moreover, these solutions allow for a drastic reduction (over 90%) in solvent emissions, thus considerably lowering the environmental impact of wood coatings and, in the process, protecting the health of the person applying the coating.

For the development of state-of-the-art solutions for the furniture industry, ICA Group benefits from the input of Giardina Officine Aeromeccaniche, a company that specializes in the delivery of integrated coating systems. The range of water-based coating products designed by ICA specifically for use on assembled furniture is extensive. ICA’s transparent, antiquing, water-based cycle for assembled furniture is particularly suitable for use on reproduction furniture made from woods such as cherry, walnut, toulipier, lime and poplar. This cycle is composed of one coat of TAPU (a waterborne “antique-effect” coating), which should be sprayed on and manually rag-rolled, followed by two sprayed-on coats of a transparent, monocomponent waterborne basecoat, which provides excellent wettability of the wood fiber and is able to guarantee excellent transparency. Once a dark-walnut-colored, waterborne antiquing agent has been sprayed over the existing coating, the next phase involves the spray application of one coat of a transparent, monocomponent “shellac-effect” waterborne topcoat. The cycle ends with the application of antiquing wax.

The Group’s lacquered, glazed, bicolor water-based cycle for assembled furniture is ideal for woods such as toulipier, lime and poplar. Only waterborne bicomponent products are used within this cycle, since they can block the extractive substances that are found in many of the wood species traditionally used in the furniture sector. The use of bicomponent coating products also makes it possible to guarantee long-term fullness, thus giving reproduction furniture an excellent appearance. The cycle starts with the application of three coats of a white, bicomponent waterborne basecoat, which delivers exceptional fullness and is extremely easy to sand – properties that are aligned with the specific requirements of the reproduction furniture industry. Subsequently, the frame of the piece of furniture should be sprayed with one coat of platinum-gray, lacquered, bicomponent waterborne topcoat, while any drawers on the piece of furniture should be spray-coated with light-gray, lacquered, bicomponent waterborne topcoat. The cycle ends with a coat of dark-walnut-colored, brushable waterborne topcoat and a coat of transparent, bicomponent waterborne matt topcoat.

Selected Microwave Drying System

ICA Group developed these coating cycles in partnership with Giardina Officine Aeromeccaniche, a Lombardy-based specialist that has designed a highly innovative drying procedure that makes it possible to dry coatings in a matter of minutes thanks to the Selected Microwave system. Waterborne coatings do not dry in the same way as traditional, solventborne coatings: waterborne coatings take longer to dry, and the results achieved are highly dependent on the atmospheric conditions at the time when the products are being applied and/or are drying. If the air is too warm, the coating can form a surface film that imprisons air molecules, and this leads, over time, to the film bleaching and cracking. The solution developed by Giardina Officine Aeromeccaniche involves placing the coated furniture inside a mixed oven (selected microwaves/warm air) for just a few minutes until it is dry. In this way, the wooden object does not start to heat up excessively. The selected microwave section uses only 6kW per session. Giardina Officine Aeromeccaniche also produces continuous-drying systems that can be inserted into existing assembled-furniture systems.

Environmental Awareness

ICA Group’s products deliver the high-quality solutions that wood-coating professionals demand. In particular, the company’s water-based coatings are constantly being refined in order to become even more efficient in terms of atmospheric emissions and environmental impact. By investing heavily in R&D, ICA has developed a bicomponent polyurethane coating capable of achieving results that are perfectly comparable to those produced using normal, solventborne coatings. In 1995, the European Union awarded the LIFE mark to ICA’s range of water-based bicomponent coatings in recognition of the “sustainable long-term development” demonstrated by ICA in its efforts to reduce atmospheric pollution. ICA’s research in this field was presented to the European Commission as one of the leading practical examples of the LIFE (l’Instrument Financier pour l’Environnement) program, an initiative launched for the purpose of giving financial incentives to organizations engaged in “sustainable long-term development.” The central objectives of the LIFE program are the control and reduction of pollution in its various forms through ‘clean’ technologies. ICA’s was the only project in the coating products sector to receive an award: the products developed by ICA were shown to work effectively towards a reduction in atmospheric emissions of VOCs, and, specifically, Volatile Organic Solvents (VOSs). ICA Group’s products, which are intended for use by professional users, are sold all over the world. ICA’s highly specialized distributors cater to the requirements of the various industry sectors in which wood coatings are used (interior design, carpentry, outdoor structures, frames, garden furniture, parquet flooring and musical instruments).

Waterborne, UV, Gloss Coating

ICA also conducted intensive research to develop a range of transparent and pigmented UV coatings that ensure environmental impact is minimized, even when a gloss finish is required. The approach is based on conducting continuous research into cutting-edge technological solutions and on consolidating its partnerships with leading producers of coatings systems in order to offer coatings that combine excellent aesthetic results with low levels of environmental impact.

The recently developed waterborne, UV, gloss coatings have what it takes to meet the exacting requirements of companies in the modern coatings industry. These new, polishable, monocomponent UV coatings for interiors, which are available in both transparent and pigmented versions, are the ideal response to the current trend, discernible both in Italy and around the world, for furniture with a gloss finish. Alongside the drastic reduction in environmental impact that these products afford, they also make it possible to achieve consistently excellent results in terms of quality, breaking through what had been, until now, the final frontier for water-based coatings: gloss finishes.

The monocomponent, waterborne UV gloss, which is available in both transparent and pigmented versions, has been specifically designed for use as a final topcoat for wooden furniture and accessories. This coating is polishable and is highly resistant to chemical agents. It can also be sprayed onto polyurethane, waterborne or solventborne basecoats, polyester basecoats or UV basecoats. Once the water has evaporated, the topcoat can be dried using high-powered UV lamps.


One of ICA’s main strategic assets is its culture of maximum quality through innovation. Indeed, over recent years, the company has designed and de-ployed numerous state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, targeted both at the development of new products and at the attainment of enhanced production standards. By exploiting the experience it has accumulated throughout its history, ICA can draw on an unrivalled combination of expertise, technology and design skills, which allow it to produce coatings for wood that provide its customers with a tangible, competitive advantage. The company’s ability to develop high-quality, ultra-reliable coatings is the result of constant studies, laboratory research, product testing and technical applications that aim to ensure that ICA Group remains in step with the continuously changing needs of the market. The outcome of this effort has been the perfect synthesis of product/process innovation and rapid turnaround times in response to customer requirements.

As a result of this approach, ICA Group’s products are increasingly being recognized by professionals in the wood coating sector as the ideal solution. The company’s eco-friendly products are a major focus of its research activities, which are part of the endeavor to produce coatings with the lowest possible level of emissions and environmental impact.

ICA’s new coatings are distributed directly in North America; for more information, call 519/768.0732, or e-mail