There are numerous different types of paint coatings available, often several depending on the project. Below we’ve shared information about the general types of paint coatings that are typically used in day-to-day applications. It is easiest to divide coatings into three groups: industrial, architectural, and special purpose.
This is the coating that is added to products when they are being manufactured. This form of coating is generally applied for protective purposes rather than aesthetic reasons, though it is possible to achieve both. Industrial coatings are normally used for the purposes of corrosion control, a necessity on steel structures, such as bridges, underground pipelines, and offshore platforms.
Typically, industrial coatings use polymers, such as epoxy, moisture-cure urethane, and polyurethane. The most common industrial coatings include phosphate, inorganic zinc, PVD, and Xylan. The normal coating system involves a primer, middle coat, and top coat. The polymer is necessary because it acts as a physical barrier between the steel and corrosive elements, such as water or the atmosphere.
This is also known as ‘decorative’ coating and is by far the biggest part of the industry. Did you know that consumer paints make up over 50% of the coatings sold in the United States each year? Architectural coatings are designed for aesthetic purposes to improve the surfaces of offices, public buildings, and homes.
Wood coatings are immensely popular, but manufacturers are faced with the challenge of creating environmentally sustainable products that also produce an excellent level of performance. Wood coatings are usually transparent as a means of showcasing the natural beauty and grain of the wood. Consumers also like lightly colored coatings to provide a different effect with the wood. As much as architectural coatings are necessary to make homes and buildings look stunning, they must also work to protect the surface.
Special Purpose Coatings
This represents the smallest part of the coatings industry and as the name suggests, involves specialized products. There are various sub-sections involved in this particular industry including:
- Traffic Marking Paint – You will find this mainly on roads and highways to help motorists read important signs. New technology involves glow in the dark paint to allow night drivers a similar level of safety afforded to them during the day.
- Aerosol Coatings – These coatings are generally purchased as a means of ‘touching up’ surfaces and are normally bought by DIY enthusiasts who are looking to add extra aesthetic quality to existing painted surfaces.
- Industrial Maintenance – This is the second largest specialty market as industrial plants require these coatings to preserve their machinery.
- Automotive Refinish Coatings – This is the largest specialty market and is worth over $2 billion per year. Automobile lovers look for these coatings as a means of improving the appearance of their vehicles. In many cases, this final touch-up is a precursor to a sale.
It may seem strange that the entire paint coatings industry can be divided into three groups, but you have to remember that each has several sub-segments with products suitable for a specialty market. The improvement in technology means that manufacturers are now able to develop products to suit even the most specific needs.