Paint and Coatings Knowledge Area  

Updated: 11-20-2019



Selection of the appropriate Paints and Coatings are a key design and maintenance strategy for the protection and mitigation of corrosion for facilities, facility components and infrastructure. Prior to selecting a coating for a new or sustained facility, the Architect/Engineer and Sustainment Professional should consider fundamentals of paint classification, types of coatings, surface preparation, application, inspection, economic considerations, defects, failures, causes, remedies, safety and environmental concerns. The next step is to assess and understand related criteria and standards such as Unified Facility Criteria (UFC), Unified Facility Guide Specifications (UFGS), Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC), National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) International and tools for paints and coatings selection.


Graphic of paint can with Solvent top layer, Resin middle layer and Pigment bottom layer

Figure 1: "Know What is in the Can"

Paints and coatings serve as the first line of defense between the facility and the environment. Knowing what is "in the can" is an essential part of selecting the right paint or coating (see Figure 1). As the environmental severity risks increase, so does the stress on the paints and coatings. The incorrect selection of a paint or coating will mean early surface protection failure exposing the surface to corrosion and ultimate component failure. As an example, the coastline is an environment with high salt, moisture, and temperature creating an environment that fosters corrosion at an exceptionally high rate. Because of this, the selection of a paint or coating would dictate a high performance option versus a conventional exterior latex coating.

Paint can be defined as a mixture or dispersion of opaque pigments or powders in a liquid or vehicle. Coatings include other materials that can be considered paint-like in their use such as varnishes and inorganic binders. Modern classifications of paints includes:

  • Architectural/Trade Sales - commonly recognized latex and alkyd paints sold in retail stores;
  • Industrial/Maintenance - may include anti-corrosive primers, machinery and industrial enamels and other products that require more specialized application equipment. Some trade sales type paints are also used in Industrial situations (i.e. High Performance Architectural Coatings);
  • Specialty - are generally very specific in their use, application and resistance properties such as plastics coatings, coil coatings, and resistive coatings.

Selection of the appropriate paint or coating must include consideration of mission and operational needs, exterior weathering, appearance, drying time, application, maintenance and resistance to fuel, solvents, chemicals, abrasion, heat, and mildew. Understanding surface preparation and correct application methodology is key to a successful coating and painting project. Many coating system failures result from improper surface preparation and poor application. Coatings and Paints represent a sophisticated area of design and specifications/standards application as can be seen in the Architectural Painting Specification Decision Tree.

Photo of worker rolling coating on wall surface
Photo of worker spraying coating on surface

Consider that annual maintenance and periodic repair costs are far less costly than major repairs or replacement of structures themselves when the appropriate coatings and paints are selected to support the desired life cycle requirements. For more information review the Introduction to Paints and Coatings.

Consulting a Paints and Coatings Subject Matter Expert (SME)

The Paints and Coatings SME provides invaluable consultation skills developed from years of experience assessing corrosion prevention requirements in many environments. The SME can translate local conditions into Paints and Coatings solutions that provide immediate and long-term benefits to the installation and its SRM bottom line costs. Typical consulting services provided by the Paints and Coatings SME include:

  • Problem assessment
  • Failure analysis
  • Environmental Severity impacts
  • System and material selection
  • Review and assessment of contractor deliverables
  • Quality assurance
  • System design
  • SRM analysis and recommendations (system inspection and testing assistance)
  • Hazards analysis
  • Assessment of new technologies
  • Process analysis

Relevant Codes and Standards

Department of Defense

Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC)

Unified Facilities Guide Specifications (UFGS)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Public Works Technical Bulletin (PWTB)

Industry Organizations

Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC)

  • SP 1 Solvent Cleaning
  • SP 2 Hand Tool Cleaning
  • SP 3 Power Tool Cleaning
  • SP 15 Commercial Grade Power Tool Cleaning
  • SP 11 Power Tool Cleaning to Bare Metal
  • SP 10/NACE No. 2 Abrasive Blast to Near-White Metal
  • SP 5 Abrasive Blast to White Metal
  • SSPC/NACE Blast Standards
  • PA 1 Shop, Field, and Maintenance Painting of Steel
  • PA 2 Procedure for Determining Conformance to Dry Coatings Thickness

ASTM International

  • ASTM D5402 Standard Practice for Assessing the Solvent Resistance of Organic Coatings Using Solvent Rubs

NACE International

  • NACE SP0188 Discontinuity (Holiday) Testing of New Protective Coatings on Conductive Substrates

The International organization for Standardization (ISO)

  • ISO 11303 Corrosion of metals and alloys - Guidelines for selection of protection methods against atmospheric corrosion




Architectural Painting Specification Decision Tree


  • FICES Report, July 2013
  • Corrosion Prevention and Control: A Program Management Guide for Selecting Materials, Spiral 2 (2nd Edition) by AMMTIAC. Sept 2006.



DoD-Funded Training - Opportunities

The DoD Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office has contracted with SSPC and NACE International to provide tuition-free courses in corrosion prevention and mitigation to DoD personnel throughout fiscal year 2017.


Obtaining SME Assistance for DoD Installations

Federal Facility Criteria: