What is a substrate?

A substrate is a commonly used word but it can mean many different things. Let's explain what it means in each discipline.

What a substrate means in biology

In biology, a substrate can be the surface on which an organism (eg: plant, fungus, or animal) lives or the substance on which an enzyme can act. In geology, a substrate is a rock or sediment surface where chemical and biological processes occur.

Though the definition can vary, the common feature of all definitions is that a substrate serves as a base for something to grow, or to occur, on the surface. 

What a substrate means in chemistry

In chemistry, this can mean a surface on which other chemical reactions can occur. For the coatings industry, a substrate usually refers to the material on which paints and coatings are applied, for example, metal, wood, plastic, fabric, rubber, paper, or leather.

Matching the substrate to the right type of coating

In a previous article we touched on why different types of coatings are used to protect surfaces from external attack or degradation. 
The type of substrate is a critical and determining factor in the selection of a coating because the chemistry of the substrate always has an impact on the properties of the applied coating. Therefore, the right combination of substrate and coating chemistry is essential to achieve the required appearance and performance of any coated material.

Not done learning about chemistry today?

Discover why there are chemicals in your clothing, or what exactly is a chemical substance
Or feel free to continure exploring our Beyond Chemistry pages.

How we can help you

At Stahl, our focus is on creating coatings for materials used in fashion, automotive, and home furnishing products so that they look and feel good while optimizing their long-term performance and reducing environmental impact at the same time. Whether it is leather, fabric, metal, rubber, or wood, Stahl’s technology and expertise ensure that the right coating is applied to these different substrates to produce optimal results.