3 Tips for an Innovative High-Performance Coatings Spec

The intent of any coatings spec should be to provide the longest service life possible, the lowest life cycle cost, and the most sustainable solution. Here are 3 tips to ensure your coating system fits the project.

Your 096600 High-Performance Coatings specification should call for the best coating technology possible—either new or established—while ensuring the owner gets the best long-term value. Remember that the intent of any coatings spec should be to provide the longest service life possible, the lowest life cycle cost, and the most sustainable solution. Premature failures such as corrosion or fading in prominent locations, as well as over-engineered systems for benign areas are to be avoided. With this in mind, here are three tips to make sure the coatings systems fit the project.

TIP 1:

Specify system types with a history of success in similar environments. Given that those types of coatings have the desired finish and overall look, a reputable coatings manufacturer should be able to show their systems have performed in similar spaces and on similar structures. Be sure to include a requirement for substitution requests to show case histories in that environment and with a similar service life to the project expectations.

TIP 2:

Reference appropriate test standards that demonstrate the desired qualities of the coating system. Listing a test meant for concrete coatings on a coating schedule for steel doesn’t make much sense. While a test like salt (spray) fog may not initially seem like a pertinent test for steel primers on an inland project, it’s important to remember that at the most basic level, this test and its variations (prohesion, cyclic salt fog) stresses a coating and demonstrates its ability to protect steel.

For intermediate coats, if applicable, be sure to include test requirements that reflect the needed barrier protection. If the environment involves exposure to chemicals, the coating should have the required chemical resistance. If the steel is exterior, humidity resistance and moisture vapor transmission results will provide valuable product differentiation.

Note: Keep in mind that some protective coatings have give-and-take properties to some degree. This is especially notable at the extremes of certain physical properties. For example, quality coating formulators may choose to sacrifice some flexibility in return for higher chemical resistance. Coatings with very tenacious adhesion may have higher surface preparation requirements, while more flexible coatings may not withstand constant abrasion. In short, one coating can’t do everything, which makes it even more important to work with a manufacturer’s representative to design a coating system that addresses all the needs of the project.

TIP 3:

Lastly, reference the most current standards. For example, ISO 12944-6:2018 lists corrosivity categories ranging from C2 to C5. The previous version ranged from C1 to C5, with an additional CX category that has since been removed. Another example is AWWA D102 for potable water tanks, which is a standard that has had some important updates in recent years. Older specifications referencing obsolete or replaced standards may create confusion for prospective bidders or even allow for lower-performance products to be used on the project. A fully up-to-date specification is important in ensuring a cutting-edge coating system.


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