Structural steel is cost effective, easily adaptable, durable and low maintenance. But one of the greatest benefits of using steel for different structures is that its service life can be extended significantly when the right corrosion resistant coatings are applied.

Whether we refer to existing or new steel structures, advanced corrosion resistant coatings can:

  • facilitate steelwork corrosion control and enhance the durability of different steel structures by providing adequate protection even in the most corrosive environments;
  • fit a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications, including building construction, manufacturing plants, mechanical equipment, warehouses, storage tanks, bridges, parking garages, stadiums, air terminals and offshore facilities;
  • meet the latest demands for improved performance and comply with the environmental, health and safety standards for hazardous air pollutants;
  • improve the aesthetics of different structures.

Paint Coatings for Structural SteelWhen it comes to steel structures, painting and corrosion prevention go hand-in-hand. The modern paint systems developed for structural steel protection typically consist of different coating products with anti-corrosion, moisture-resistant and abrasion-resistant properties.

As each component of a protective paint system has a specific function, professional commercial and industrial painting contractors use a series of products to deliver an impervious finish, including:

  • Primers – The primers applied to structural steel are high-performance coatings that contribute to the adherence, corrosion resistance, density, durability and uniformity of subsequent coatings. Currently, two categories of primers are used for steelwork corrosion control:
    1. Zinc-rich primers, which can be either organic or inorganic. Both types provide cathodic protection against corrosion that may form as a result of a break in the coating.
    2. Epoxy primers, which harden into a solid film that is moisture, chemical and abrasion resistant. As these primers can prevent under-rusting of steel substrates, they’re suitable for use in humid climates like Florida as well as in different commercial and industrial exposures.
  • Intermediate coats – When specifications call for a multiple coating system, professional painters use intermediate coats that decrease oxygen and moisture permeability, and contain leveling and film-forming ingredients, which build up the overall film thickness.
  • Finish coats – Acting as sacrificial layers, finish coats are available in various formulations that can protect structural steel against different environmental conditions, both indoors and outdoors.

    Although most finish coats are to be applied over a suitable primer or intermediate coat, several paint products can be applied directly to properly prepared steel. Paint and coating manufacturers also provide low-VOC finish coats that combine corrosion and chemical resistance with exceptional durability properties.

  • Stripe coats – Stripe coats are utilized to improve coating performance by providing specific areas, such as external corners, edges, crevices, fasteners and welds, with sufficient film build. As a result, the coating system can better resist corrosion and damage due to different forms of abuse.

When it comes to extending the service life of steel structures, the key to success lies in recognizing the corrosivity of the environment and specifying the appropriate coating products.

Additionally, recent research has demonstrated that careful design can contribute to steelwork corrosion control and increase the service life of steel structures. Besides design considerations, facility managers should take into account some other aspects, including the integrity of the structure, service life expected, effectiveness of corrosion protection coatings and their environmental load.

Although the benefits of using the right coating products are real, hiring professional commercial or industrial painters to inspect your building bi-annually and after extreme weather events like hurricanes, heavy rain and hail can help you address paint failure immediately and expertly. For a detailed building inspection, painting consultation or a painting estimate, please contact Performance Painting Contractors today!


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