By Tatsuya Nakagawa
If you don’t have a background in coatings and corrosion industry, the coating selection process can be daunting. Product data sheets are filled with testing standards that you have never heard of and lab results that may have no application to your situation. A century ago there were only a handful of choices, but today there are thousands of coatings to consider. Luckily you can navigate through the countless choices by focusing on these four key areas.
Condition and Type of Substrate
Not all coatings will function well on concrete, steel and wood. It’s important to ask, is the substrate in good enough condition to accept a coating as is or does the surface need to be repaired or prepared in a certain way? Always remember, coatings are only as good as the quality of the surface it’s adhering to.
Does the coating need to withstand high vehicular or foot traffic? Does it need to have high chemical resistance? Will the coating be exposed to high temperatures or UV? If facility downtime is an issue, then a fast curing coating needs to be used. Does it need to have flexibility so it can expand and contract with the substrate or resist impact? What is the temperature going to be during the coating project? For instance, epoxies generally need 50F (10C) to effectively cure, so if the temperatures are lower than that, external heating needs to be utilized or a cold weather coating would need to be considered. Lab results are good, but it’s always good to ask a supplier if they have an example of a similar application in the field.
Safety & Environmental Considerations
According to research firm MarketsAndMarkets, the current worth of the global green coatings market (2012) is $60.6 billion and is estimated to reach $85.7 billion by 2018. VOC-free, BPA-free options are becoming more available in many coating categories, but be sure that these coatings are cost competitive and meet all your performance requirements. Using a sustainable coating will make your jobsite safer and lessen the impact of your project on the environment.
Costs can sometimes be tricky to access without knowing some additional details beyond the product datasheet. First of all, you need to discuss with the supplier what the specification of the project would be (ie. thickness requirements, coverage). Another area that cost comes into play is surface prep. The cost of surface prep needs to be examined for the coatings system you select. Whether the coating system requires a higher quality surface finish or an additional layer of primer, the costs can add up in a hurry. Asking about the service life and future repairability of the coating is also a good practice.
It’s an exciting time in the coating industry with many innovative solutions on the market. Stick with these fundamental tips and it will increase your chances in making a good selection.
Tatsuya Nakagawa is the VP of marketing and co-founder of Castagra Products, an industrial coatings manufacturing company. Castagra is used by the world’s top companies to protect their assets. Contact email@example.com.