The Dirt on Hydrophobic Coatings


By Christopher Perego, BASF Corporation

For owners and operators, buildings are vehicles to deliver services, provide jobs, create customer experiences and build wealth. The appearance of a building’s exterior has a significant impact on customer perception and can even become synonymous with a business’ identity or brand. 

The challenge with buildings? They get dirty. The texture on exterior substrates can trap airborne contaminants and accumulate dirt and grime. The resulting unsightly appearance can cause significant problems for a building owner.

Exterior cleaning can be costly and often requires the use of chemicals that may damage building components and foliage. More important, doing this work on an occupied building can be disruptive to business. It can hurt revenue, affect customer satisfaction and tarnish a company’s image. 


Using hydrophobic coatings — a recent industry innovation — can protect a building’s appearance, performance and structural integrity. Nanostructures within the coating cause water to bead on the surface, carrying away dirt and grime as the water rolls off the building. This leaves the surface looking clean and dry.

Hydrophobic coatings are often called “self-cleaning” coatings. While this is a slight misnomer, this type of coating does exhibit a self-cleaning characteristic when water sources — such as rain or even a light water rinse — are present. 

Hydrophobic coatings cause water to bead on the surface.

Beyond serving as a water repellent, hydrophobic coatings provide additional protection. Formulated using acrylic resins, these coatings have excellent adhesion to concrete, stucco and masonry substrates. They are vapor permeable while being waterproof: Vapor can pass through the wall section, but bulk water is prevented from penetrating the exterior. This helps to prevent blistering and peeling, which ensures lasting protection and minimizes costly call backs. In addition, these water-based formulations have low VOC content, making them both easy and safe to apply in every phase of installation.

Watch a video of how hydrophobic coatings work:


A building’s exterior can convey its value, level of prestige, dedication to hospitality and other distinguishing qualities. It is often a visitor's first impression of the business inside and, therefore, a crucial part of the overall brand experience. Because hydrophobic coatings improve the performance and appearance of building exteriors, design professionals who specify these coatings help protect not only the physical structures but also the owners' reputations. And with less time spent worrying about maintenance and appearance, owners have more time to spend on the people they serve.

*Claims or positions expressed by sponsoring authors do not necessarily reflect the views of TPC, Durability + Design or its editors.



Christopher Perego, BASF Corporation

Christopher Perego is the industry sector manager for Buildings and Restoration at BASF Corporation. Throughout his career, he has focused on protection and repair of buildings. Perego holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. He resides in the Minneapolis area.