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VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

VSC 1200 direct to metal application

VSC 1200, a new and advanced product from US Coatings, has proven its worth as the next generation of heavy-duty industrial maintenance coatings when combined with the VSC 1100 primer. In this post, we’ll discuss the use of the VSC 1200 topcoat as a direct-to-metal (DTM) coating and why this cutting-edge polyurethane will provide groundbreaking benefits for DTM applications, particularly in metal fabrication shops and for manufacturers of small vessels and tanks.

What is VSC 1200?

VSC 1200 is a 2K polyurethane finish. In addition to providing the desirable characteristics of an ultra high performance polyurethane topcoat — excellent gloss and color retention, outstanding weathering, UV resistance — VSC 1200 is hard, tough and extremely durable. When applied to substrates, it offers high barrier protection, anti-corrosion properties and unparalleled edge retention.

This polyurethane coating is comprised of Tetrashield™ technology, the newest evolution of protective coating resins. This gives VSC 1200 consistent film build and an environmentally friendly, high-solids formula that requires no thinning solvents. Easy application is another key advantage: The longer pot life and shorter dry time allow for streamlined application, and the coating has a wide latitude of application conditions. Additionally, this advanced coating has no added costs compared to other polyurethanes on the market. It also offers excellent edge retention, greatly reducing the risk of undercutting off of sharp edges on the substrate.

Click here for the full introduction to VSC 1200 as a topcoat with the VSC 1100 primer coating system, which are used together in heavy industrial applications in rigorous environments.

VSC 1200 and direct-to-metal coatings

Direct-to-metal (DTM) applications involve an industrial coating applied directly onto a metal substrate without the use of a primer beforehand. DTM coatings offer a host of cost-saving efficiencies and environmental benefits without sacrificing any protection of the substrate. With only one coat of paint (instead of the typical two-coat system), labor and material costs are lowered and applications are streamlined. The chance for overspray is also decreased, which reduces wasted materials and environmental impacts.

VSC 1200 is a best-fit coating for DTM applications, as it provides both the reliable protection and long-term weathering resistance necessary for industrial coatings — an all-in-one performance that asset owners require from a DTM application. The coating has many high-end performance characteristics as enumerated above, and there are no application, equipment or cost constraints for applicators.

Another advantage of VSC 1200 in DTM coating applications is undercutting prevention. Polyurethane coatings typically don’t have high enough adhesion to withstand the rigors of the substrate’s environment, causing the paint to slowly separate from the surface. This allows corrosion to potentially take hold and lead to costly damage to the asset. VSC 1200’s Tetrashield™ technology prevents undercutting and ensures the coating provides unparalleled protection for the substrate.

DTM applications for VSC 1200

VSC 1200 performs well in a variety of DTM coating applications — essentially any light- to medium-duty industrial application where protection from corrosion and UV degradation are vital. Facilities and shops that manufacture metal components requiring a high-end industrial finish (products such as structural steel, trailers, farm equipment and construction equipment) can greatly benefit from VSC 1200’s DTM application. Small manufacturers of vessels and tanks will also find VSC 1200 a viable DTM coating option. These shops and manufacturers can utilize VSC 1200 to provide the protection, reliability and aesthetics they require with a streamlined application and cost-competitive pricing.

Selecting a coating that provides adequate protection and long-term weathering resistance while streamlining processes is no easy feat. For more information on choosing the best coating for your asset, read our Industrial Coating Selection Guide. To continue discussing VSC 1200 for your DTM application, reach out to an industrial coatings expert.


VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

US Coatings to partner with The Thortex Group

Valentus Specialty Chemicals has entered a global technology supply agreement through its Protective Maintenance Coatings business unit and The Thortex Group.

US Coatings, a subsidiary of Valentus Specialty Chemicals, will partner with Thortex to provide engineered coatings and repair systems to the worldwide infrastructure repair market.

Thortex has been a trusted industry leader for almost three decades using the best technology in protective coatings and rehabilitation systems in the market today. Click here to learn more about Thortex.

According to Mike Reed, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Valentus, “We have worked closely with Thortex to complement their existing product line and develop a complete range of products. We are very excited about our global partnership with Thortex and will work collaboratively to service the growing market better than before.”

Ray Clarke, CEO of The Thortex Group, also commented, “In continuing the legacy of the Thortex brand and to develop a more complete range of products, we are very excited about our global partnership with US Coatings. We will work collaboratively to expand this important and growing market through distributorship opportunities both domestically and worldwide.”


VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

Case Study: Eastman Chemical Company Fights CUI with VSC 1200

One of the costliest corrosion problems faced by the chemical processing and petroleum refining industries is corrosion under insulation (CUI).  CUI affects both carbon steel and stainless steel equipment and has been recognized as a problem for many years.  The American Petroleum Institute publishes recommended practice API 583, “Corrosion Under Insulation and Fireproofing” which provides information on the causes and mitigation of CUI.  The National Association of Corrosion Engineers publishes SP0198, “Control of Corrosion Under Insulation and Fireproofing” which provides information on the use of coatings to prevent CUI.  In both documents coatings play a major role in preventing CUI.

Like all its peer companies Eastman Chemical Company has experienced CUI of both stainless steel and carbon steel equipment.  Recently Eastman began a program of CUI-related inspections and repairs to extend the life of several critical assets that operate under conditions that are conducive to CUI.  Previous experience suggested that CUI was likely with an elevated temperature distillation column made of carbon steel. The column has been in service since the early 1980’s with an operating temperature that varies from about 100°C at the base to 80°C at the top.  Operating requirements prevented shutdown of the column so all coating and insulation work was completed while the column was in operation and the external surface was hot.  When new, the equipment was painted with a red iron oxide primer and insulated with two inches of fiberglass blanket insulation.  After more than 30 years of operation in an exposed outdoor location the insulation was removed to permit a thorough external inspection, found damage was repaired and a protective coating system and new thermal insulation was installed.

As expected, when the old insulation was removed, corrosion of the steel substrate was found.  It is very difficult to prevent the ingress of water through an aluminum jacket, particularly one that has many jacket penetrations – which is why corrosion to the shell occurred. Figure 1 shows typical corrosion damage found at an insulation support ring.  Support rings are horizontal surfaces designed to provide vertical support for the thermal insulation.  In this case, the ring was welded directly to the shell, which allowed water to accumulate in the insulation on the topside of the ring, resulting in corrosion of the steel shell.

Historically, Eastman has used either epoxy phenolic or multi-polymeric coatings for CUI protection.  In both cases the required surface preparation is abrasive blasting.  Because this distillation column is in service, it was not possible to do abrasive blasting; instead an SP3 power tool-cleaned preparation was specified.  Valentus VSC1100, a high-quality, high build surface tolerant aluminum epoxy mastic coating, was chosen for the first coat because of its outstanding corrosion resistance and excellent tolerance of marginally prepared surfaces.  VSC1200, a top coat with Eastman Tetrashield™ protective resin systems, was chosen for the second coat because of its outstanding resistance to water permeation and excellent chemical resistance. Laboratory testing showed application of VSC1100 to a hot surface had no impact on the curing or properties of the coating.  The hot surface temperature did require the addition of a cure blocker to ensure proper film characteristics for the VSC1200 topcoat.  Figure 2 shows the VSC1100 as applied, and Figure 3 shows the VSC1200 topcoat.

Figure 1.  CUI damage at insulation support ring.

Figure 1

Figure 2.  Valentus VSC1100 applied to marginally prepared steel substrate at about 80°C.

Figure 3.  Valentus VSC1200 topcoat applied to the VSC1100 aluminum epoxy mastic at 80°C substrate temperature.

Figure 3

Extensive laboratory testing carried out during the development of both Valentus coatings showed they have individual characteristics that provide each with excellent properties that, when combined, produce a coating system with excellent corrosion resistance.  The Tetrashield resin provides excellent resistance to water permeation and resistance to many aggressive chemicals.  These characteristics make it very useful in moderate temperature CUI applications where an abrasive blast surface preparation is not possible and in situations where the equipment cannot be taken out of service.

Immersion grade coating systems are chosen for CUI applications because they may be exposed to hot, wet conditions for extended periods.  The high build epoxy systems are only recommended for temperatures up to 60°C in NACE SP0198.  Between 60° and 150°C NACE recommends epoxy phenolic coatings which are considered immersion grade coatings.  However, in cases where the recommended abrasive blast cannot be done, the epoxy phenolic cannot be used.  The Valentus system can bridge the temperature gap between 60° and 150°C given its good moisture permeation and corrosion resistance; however, it is not an immersion grade system and should not be chosen in situations where continuous hot immersion is possible.  The design of the insulation system should be done with CUI resistance in mind to help the coating system function as intended.  For the Eastman project, a moisture resistant insulation was chosen, along with an elastomeric jacket material that is adhesively sealed to itself and to the vessel being insulated as seen in Figure 4.  This combination made it much less likely that water could get to and be held against the surface, thus reducing the need for moisture resistance in the coating system.  The Valentus VSC1100/1200 system with its good moisture permeation and corrosion resistance is a good choice for moderate temperature applications when the substrate is corroded and abrasive blasting is not practical.

Figure 4


VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

Discussion of coatings selected for deck remediation where the decking has been exposed to Phenolic Foam Insulation (PFI).


In 1991, the major industrial coatings manufacturers of the United States were contacted by Beazer East, Inc. through a consulting firm.  These coating manufacturers were presented with the problem of specifying a surface preparation and coating system to be applied over corrugated steel decking that had been in direct contact with, and/or corroded by, Phenolic insulation.  The coating had to be able to be applied to both painted steel and galvanized steel decking.


Phenolic insulation exposed to humidity or direct moisture (such as roof leaking) creates sulphonic acid.  In a short amount of time, this sulphonic acid corrodes both standard painted deck as well as galvanized deck. It is important to note that the coatings used to paint corrugated decking are applied at a thickness of between one half and three quarters of one Mil DFT. That is less than one thousandth of an inch. A sheet of newspaper is three thousandths of an inch thick. The phenolic insulation also has a history of crumbling, and easily crushes when walked on, leaving a residue on the decking.  This residue is present regardless of whether the insulation has been crushed or not.


In order to have corrosion, three things are required, oxygen, moisture, and a catalyst.  In our case, the catalyst is the Phenolic insulation residue and the sulphonic acid.  In order to prevent corrosion in this application, we would need to remove all the residue, which is not practical.  The easiest way to prevent corrosion is to prevent moisture from coming in contact with the phonlic residue and the existing corrosion or steel by means of a high build barrier type coating.


When developing a specification for surface preparation and coating selection, there are limitations to what surface preparations are available, possible, and practical.  When making a coatings selection there are also limitations as to the occupancy of the building and limitations of surface preparation, and the skill level of the applicators.  Any change made to the surface preparation will change the selection of the coatings system used.  When reviewing the possible surface preparations, we are limited in the sense that many of the industrial surface preparations, such as abrasive blasting or water washing, are not practical.  Regardless of what practical surface preparation is chosen, we know that corrosion and the sulphonic/ phenolic residue will remain on the remaining surfaces.  It is not practical to completely remove the residue or the corrosion as it would be less expensive to just remove and replace the deck.  For our surface preparation specification, we use the Steel Structures Painting Council SP-2 hand tool clean or SP-3 Power-tool clean.  The level of cleanliness for these specifications are the same, the difference is the methods used to reach the required level of cleanliness.


After examining the profile of decking that had been corroded by sulphonic acid/phenolic residue; we found after cleaning, that the profile or depth of the corrosion ranged between two and eight thousandths of an inch (mils).  This meant that our minimum dry film thickness required to cover the deepest profile was at least nine (9) mils.  The profile of the corrosion directs us to a high build coating which is also surface tolerant given that corrosion will remain on the steel decking. This coating must be able to be applied to and adhere to existing coatings, without lifting, and adhere to galvanized decking.

Degrees of Damage:

It is not that the sulphonic acid is so damaging, it is that the insulation boards will hold around 10 times their weight in water allowing it to stay continuously wet and dissolve the deck.

This is typical of the damage, full, active corrosion from top(flange), down the slope(web) into the bottom(flute). The dust is mostly crushed insulation. The phenolic foam dust cannot be fully removed without washing it from the deck. The previous roof system was mechanically attached using screws that penetrate through the decking. In areas where the roof has had leaks, these fasteners/screws can be completely corroded through leaving the screw head and washer on top of the foam and the end of the screw falling into the building.

The beginning of stratified corrosion. Beyond this degree of corrosion a consultant would recommend either removal of the section of deck or preparing, coating and overlaying of the area

This section of decking has been completely corroded through. The section was prepared, coated and overlaid with new decking.


Products such as acrylic primers or oil based (alkyds) primers cannot be used and have failed when used for several reasons:

-Acrylics (typically 35 to 50% volume solids*) meet neither the surface tolerant requirement nor have the ability to be applied in thicknesses greater than five (5) mils dry (DFT dry film thickness).

-Alkyds (typically 45 to 60% volume solids*) have limited surface tolerance but do not meet the high build thickness requirement. Also oil based coatings contain oxidizers which are the drying mechanism (along with solvent evaporation), these oxidizers continue to “dry” the coating until no oil remains, thus leaving a dry powder residue which has no barrier properties and will allow the deck to corrode again.  Oil based primers are typically applied between 2.5 and 4 mils DFT.

-Standard Epoxies (typically 60-75% volume solids*) can meet the surface tolerant requirement but not the film thickness requirement. Typically applied from 3 to5 mils DFT.

*Volume solids are the amount of liquid in the can that actually forms a solid film.  Any part of the coating that is not volume solids is solvent and needs to evaporate out of the coating to ensure proper curing. Only volume solids have film forming characteristics.

In all three of these cases, applying the coating at a greater film thickness than designed in the formulation process will cause solvent entrapment due to the low volume solids.  This will lead to continued corrosion because the film becomes very porous due to the solvent bubbles/blisters working their way to the top of the film.  A cross section of these films looks very much like Swiss cheese.  Epoxies can cause osmotic blistering as the uncured coating pulls moisture through the film and back down to the substrate (decking).


High Build Epoxy Mastics (75-100% volume solids). Epoxy Mastics, when formulated properly allow for surface tolerance, moisture impermeability, high volume solids, and high film build. Not all high build epoxy mastics are surface tolerant; many are formulated to be a build or mid-coat in a three coat system or as part of a lining system where chemical immersion will be the end application, requiring abrasive blasting and the removal of all contaminants to clean steel.  The coatings we have selected are formulated meeting our requirements and have been tested on steel decking that has been removed from buildings that have had Phenolic insulation on them.  The coatings that we have selected meet both the surface tolerant requirement and the high build requirement.

When deciding on a coating, we looked for surface tolerance moisture impermeability, adhesion, film thickness, and, specific to our application, ease of use.  For this application we had to keep in mind that the coatings would be applied by roofers and not professional painters.  In most cases, these roofers need to be taught not only how to prepare the decking, but the proper application of the coating, and the use of the spray equipment to apply the coating.  In consideration of the project limitations we look at how easily the coatings can be mixed together (how they “handle”), how easily and with what type of equipment they can be sprayed (standard airless or plural component), and the pot life or working time before the coating sets and cannot be used, and if there are any limitations due to weather/temperature.

The difference between the two coatings is more than simply a matter of odor.  The first epoxy recommended/used is Sigmacover 7428 ST ( Sigmacover 7428 ST  is discontinued now look at US Coatings DeckGrip 6120)  which is an 85% volume solids surface tolerant high build epoxy which is applied at 12-14 wet mils, and curing to between 10.2 and 11.9 mils.  As it is a high solids epoxy, there is odor from the 15% solvent and the inherent odor of the ingredients that make up this product.

The second coating that we recommended/use is Sigmacover CSF 5484 (CSF = Cold Solvent Free,( Sigmacover 5484 ST  is discontinued now look at US Coatings DeckGrip 6250) meaning it will cure at ambient temperatures and is solvent free). The DeckGrip is a 100% volume solids, low-odor high build surface tolerant epoxy which is applied at 14 to 16 wet mils curing to 14-16 dry mils. That the coating is solvent free is not the only reason that it is low odor, the ingredients of the product are very low odor in and of themselves aiding in the “low odor” facet of this product. It is erroneous to assume that all 100% solids epoxies are low odor. The GripLine family of products are used extensively as tank linings ranging from potable water to refined crude oil products.  It is because there is very little odor that we tested and recommended this product as it met all of the requirements.  The DeckGrip has been used for the past several years on all facilities handling Pharmaceutical, Produce, Brewery, and Grocery, Hospitals, and office building/complexes (including the Youngstown, OH Postal Clearing Center) where both odor and airborne solvents are an issue.  It would be easier for us to use the CSF 5484 or CSF family of products on all Phenolic projects but the cost is almost twice that of the standard epoxy, and in a number of cases, this low odor product is not necessary.

Coatings testing: Both of these coatings were applied to samples of decking removed from buildings that were being remidiated.  The panels were separated by degree of corrosion ranging from very little corrosion to being corroded to the point at which the decking would be replaced rather than coated. One half of each panel was hand prepared as per SSPC- SP-2 and the two coatings were applied at the recommended film thickness.  The panels were then laboratory tested in 100% condensing humidity.  After 2000 hours, the panels showed no blistering or delamination (loss of adhesion) or other failure.

It is important to note that in 14 years and over 3500 Phenolic deck remediation projects no system that we have recommended has failed.  In those 14 years, we have supplied over 700,000 gallons of epoxies to projects involving deck remediation where the deck was exposed to and was in direct or indirect contact with phenolic insulation.

The John’s Manville projects that we have completed, the Sigma Coatings/US Coatings have been specified by architects, engineers and roof consultants.  These specifiers consider the products, application, performance and the field personnel put in place to aid the contractor in project start up.  US Coatings as a company gives a warrantee against active corrosion on every project that is completed using their coatings.

Application and repair of Roof Decking

A power broom fitted with a 100% wire brush head is used to prepare the deck to what approximates an SSPC-SP-2/3 level of cleanliness.

The deck is blown clean after power brooming. This cleans the dust and debris out of the bottom of the flutes. The phenolic foam dust is too fine to be efficiently vacuumed as it quickly clogs vacuum filters.

The airless sprayer is fitted with a dual spray nozzle which allows the web-flute-flange to all be coated at the same time including the web that is facing away from the applicator. Using the DSN greatly increases the production rate of application and reduces the amount of wasted paint caused by making too many overlaps or going back to cover missed areas.

An applicator should be able to properly coat around one full square of roof area per minute which represents 100 sq/ft of floor area and is actually 135 sq/ft of coated surface area.

The new roof insulation is immediately laid into the wet DeckGrip as the roof area is coated.

The finished application at 14-16 wet MILS. No, Yogi Bear was not taking the pictures….


VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

VSC 1200: An advanced polyurethane industrial maintenance coating with superior long term performance

US Coatings is excited to introduce a new 2K polyurethane finish and surface-tolerant epoxy mastic system that outperforms competing systems in almost every way—at no added cost.

Developed by Valentus Specialty Chemicals, the VSC 1200 Topcoat and VSC 1100 Primer are more durable, sustainable and productive on the job. This improved performance is thanks to the groundbreaking Tetrashield™ protective resin developed by Eastman Chemical Company.

High-performance industrial maintenance coating system

VSC 1200 Topcoat and VSC 1100 Primer represent the next-generation of heavy-duty industrial maintenance coatings. Owners will like the system’s superior asset protection for the price while contractors will enjoy the ease of use of this system leading to a lower overall cost of ownership for industrial asset owners. The performance-driven marriage of the VSC 1100 primer and the Tetrashield-enhanced VSC 1200 finish is a winning combination in the fight against corrosion with an attractive maintenance price tag.

VSC 1200 Topcoat

VSC 1200 Topcoat is a hard, tough and extremely durable two-part (4:1) solvent-based topcoat developed by Valentus Specialty Coatings using Eastman Chemical Company’s Tetrashield™ protective resin. Tetrashield ™ is the breakthrough at the heart of this heavy-duty industrial maintenance coating that provides the following advantages:

  • Consistent film build and easier application.
  • Exceptional adhesion.
  • Outstanding weathering, including superior gloss and color retention over standard acrylic-polyurethanes.
  • Contractor-friendly with longer pot life and shorter dry time compared to traditional acrylic coating systems.
  • Wide latitude application conditions with long recoat time, fast dry to the touch and faster through cure even at lower temperatures.
  • Environmentally-friendly formula uses high-solids formulation that requires no thinning solvents, thus reducing VOC emissions.

VSC 1100 Primer

VSC 1100 Primer is a two-part (4:1) epoxy mastic exhibiting outstanding wetting properties (for less than ideal surface preparation) and excellent film hardness for long term durability. Performance testing shows that it vastly outperforms competing primers. It boasts the following key qualities:

  • Superior adhesion to a wide range of surfaces, including steel, aluminum and concrete.
  • Exceptional corrosion resistance.
  • Superior wetting properties to perform even on marginally-prepared surfaces.
  • Lower-temperature cure.
  • Accepts a wide variety of weathering or chemical-resistant finishes.

Eastman Tetrashield™: Breakthrough protective resin

With the advanced Tetrashield™ protective resin at its core, VSC 1200 Topcoat provides more flexibility in application while providing superior performance in harsh environments over the long term.

The resin responsible for the superior performance has its origins elsewhere in the chemical industry. Before there was Tetrashield™, there was Tritan™—a BPA-free TMCD polyester Eastman developed that offered enhanced clarity, toughness, chemical resistance and impact strength for products used in medical, household and retail applications.

Eastman chemists then developed the Tetrashield™ resin to provide in the coatings industry the benefits that Tritan™ offered for consumer products. The result is a heavy-duty industrial maintenance coating that exhibits premium performance without a premium price. Coating projects are shorter, the coating dries faster and critical assets are put back in service sooner—and that keeps costs in check.

Find out more about how industrial coating projects can be made easier by reading our guide to a painless painting project. If you want to have a conversation about an upcoming job and whether the VSC 1200 Topcoat / 1100 Primer system is right for your site, let’s talk.


VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

“Selecting the Right Coating – The 4 Basic Questions”

If one coating could do everything, coating selection would be limited to color and gloss choices and specification writing would be relatively simple.  Since that magic coating does not (yet) exist, we are left with hundreds of selections to choose from.  Many coatings will indeed perform multiple functions and are quite versatile in their many uses.  These then become very popular.  However real-world situations often demand more specific performance requirements that necessitate the selection of a more appropriate coating or coating system.

This article will address the key elements that influence coating selection.  These elements will center around “needs” … Performance Needs, Application Needs, Budget Needs (Restrictions), and Other (Special) Needs.  To uncover and define the “needs” we will approach the coating selection process through a series of four basic questions that the specifier, engineer or owner need to provide answers.  Only in this way can the proper selection be made that will narrow down the hundreds of coating choices to the “best fit” options (assuming one exists).  Sometimes however, the specific need or requirement exceeds the existing coating technology and compromises must be made to ensure a proper application.

Question #1: 

What is being coated and why is it being coated?

The question sounds pretty basic, but answers can be surprisingly deceptive. In one example, the reason for painting a vessel could simply be because the CEO of the company is making a plant visit next month.  Appearance then means everything and no one is really interested in the benefits of a 25-year corrosion resistant coating system.  The answer to this question exposes the real reason for painting, the scope of the project and the expectations of the owner.

Question #2:

What exposure will the item see?

This is perhaps the real “meat and potatoes” question to be answered.  It tells us what the real environment the coating will be exposed to.  There are many parts to this question which include;

  1. Is the item exposed to an exterior (weathering, marine, industrial) environment or inside (mild, moderate or harsh exposures such as shower rooms or food process areas)?
  2. Are there any elevated temperature conditions?
  3. Are there any harsh chemical fumes or anticipated splash and spills of chemicals?
  4. Will the coating be covered up with insulation?
  5. Will there be any thermal cycling/shock?
  6. How frequent will the coating be cleaned and with what chemicals?
  7. Will the coating see any abrasion? What type (cutting or small particulate)?
  8. What is the existing condition of the substrate (new steel, contaminated steel, rusted steel, old coatings)?
  9. What is the condition of existing coatings?


Question #3:

How, when and where will the item be painted?

Answers to this question will define how the painting project will be handled logistically; whether shop applied, field applied or in-situ at an operating plant.  It may uncover the need for a coating to handle early rain exposure or cold temperature cure. Certain coating systems will handle shop application better than others and will have less shipping damage to deal with later. If spraying the coating is not possible (overspray problems) then coatings that can be easily brush or rolled must be selected. If the speed of completion of the project is critical (most of course are) then fast dry/fast cure products will be preferred.  In many operating plants, open abrasive blasting (for optimal service cleanliness and profile requirements) may not be possible. While this restriction is fairly common, products that have surface tolerant properties must be selected. And while these products are technologically advanced, products that require higher degrees of cleanliness are preferred for longer service lives. Compromises must be made depending on what can’t be done.

Question #4:

What are the owner’s expectation in terms of service life?

On its face value, one would think that the answer should be “as long as possible”.  This is not always the case; especially with limited budgets.  In the earlier case where the CEO was to visit the plant, the need to “freshen-up” a vessel could be done rather inexpensively using a coating system with a minimal design life at minimal cost.  The argument makes even more sense if the vessel is to be dismantled in say 5 years.  It makes no sense to select a 30-year paint system for that vessel.  On the other hand, it may indeed make perfect sense to select a long-term service life system for say an elevated water tank with a design life of 90 years … and one that has the local high school mascot painted on its exterior.  Long term corrosion protection and long term appearance are vitally important.  In the end, one can choose a 3-5 year system, a 10-15 year system or a 25-30 year coating system.  The longer service life systems will cost more in terms of material costs and labor (surface preparation and application).



In the end, it is best to discuss your coating needs with a coating professional; one that will walk you through the basic needs analysis outlined here and match the right coating system for your specific set of circumstances and expectations of service life.



VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

“The Top Two Considerations of Writing Coating Specifications: Performance-Based versus Specific Named Products”   

A coating specification serves many purposes.

In its basic use, it provides a roadmap for the proper installation of a coating system. Any number of painting standards are often referenced to provide the applicator or end user proper guidelines for carrying out the specified surface preparation and proper application of the specified coating or coating system.  The specification as written already assumes that the coatings specified are suitable for the exposure and will meet the expectations of the owner.

Unfortunately; all too often, specifications are poorly written, can cause ambiguities, fail to account for problems that may come up (example: failing to specify cold-cure products during winter painting) and probably the most problematic (to the end customer) specifying the wrong products.  Those are doomed to early failure.  If the products that are specified are wrong for the application; the rest of the specification is moot.

This article will discuss two commonly used types of coating specifications; one that uses “performance-based” requirements and the other simply calls out “specific named products”.  The assumption (for this article) is that the specification as written will indeed handle the exposure and will meet the owner’s needs and expectations.  A separate article will discuss how to select the right coating system.

Performance Based Specifications

These specifications do not call our specific products by name, but rather list a series of performance requirements (minimum performance) to which the candidate system must comply. It may call out a more general performance requirement or even reference independent (3rd party) specifications such as SSPC (Society for Protective Coatings) or MPI (Master Painters Institute) or others.  Often, each coating (primer, intermediate coat and/or finish) has specific performance requirements listed.

Well written specifications call out specific requirements that will satisfy the needs of the project.  For example, it may call out a certain corrosion resistance for the primer tested to say ASTM B117 (commonly known as the Salt Fog test).  It should spell out the extent of the test (say 500 hours) and then spell out the minimum performance requirement (say no more than 2 mm undercutting at the scribe with no plane blistering or rusting).  A poorly written specification will simply say “tested to 500 hours in Salt Fog cabinet” without any performance requirement.  Testing without performance requirements is meaningless.  Any product can be “tested”.

A finish coating may have performance requirements written around weathering resistance (gloss and color retention) or abrasion/scratch resistance.  In these cases, certain test standards are referenced and minimum performance requirements are defined. Examples of some of the common tests are depicted in the chart below.

A couple words of caution when using or interpreting performance-based specifications:

  1. Be careful that the performance test used actually matches how the coating will be used. For example it makes little sense to call out a weathering performance on a primer that will be topcoated.  Likewise, calling out a Salt Fog test solely on the finish coat makes no sense.  The test must match the intended use of the specific coating or coating system.
  2. Be careful when interpreting submitted coatings for consideration that are “close” to meeting the specification. There are countless examples of coatings that “miss” meeting the specification because of a too strict interpretation of the requirement.  For example:  When comparing two finish coats that have abrasion resistant numbers of 115 mg loss versus 125 mg loss and the specification calls out no more than 120 mg loss (more loss is less abrasion resistance), the one with 125 mg loss does not meet the specification.  From a practical standpoint these two finishes have essentially the same abrasion resistance and their reported abrasion numbers are certainly within the tolerance of the test method. Yet, a perfectly acceptable coating would be disqualified based on a strict interpretation of the specification.  So, a specifier should have a very good working knowledge of performance testing, their meaning, and the significance of reported values when qualifying coatings for use.
Shown below is a chart with some commonly used performance-based standards for primers and finishes used for atmospheric exposure.  This is by no means a complete list.  These referenced methods may change based on end use, such as tank linings, high heat coatings, etc.


Performance Need Test Method Example of Performance Requirement
Corrosion Resistance (Salt Fog) ASTM B117 <2 mm UC after 500 hours exposure
Corrosion Resistance (Cyclic Prohesion/QUV-A) ASTM D5894 <3 mm UC after 3000 hours exposure
Adhesion ASTM D4541 Minimum 800 psi



Performance Need Test Method Example of Performance Requirement
Abrasion Resistance (Taber Abrasion) ASTM D4060 150 mg loss using CS17 wheel; 1000 g weight and 1000 cycles
Weathering (QUV-A) ASTM G53 75% gloss retention after 2000 hours

No more than 2 dE color shift

Hardness (Pencil) ASTM D3363 2H


Specific Named Products

One of the advantages of specifically named products in a specification is that the specifier (engineer or owner) has already determined that the products listed will satisfy the intent of the specification and the needs of the owner.  These types of specifications will often list competitive products that may be quite similar to each other (equals) or may in fact be quite different from each other.  While the coatings may perform in service similarly, one coating system may have faster dry times or low temperature cure capability that might be favored for a specific set of circumstances.  It is then left up to the contractor to choose the system that best fits the application needs.

In the end, there are no right or wrong specifications.  There are good specs and bad ones and everything in between.  The best ones are those that are well written with minimal ambiguities and fulfill the needs of the owner for the anticipated exposure and the owner’s expectations.


VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

Inorganic Zinc versus Galvanizing

There is an age old debate regarding galvanizing steel versus using inorganic zinc primers for protection against corrosion in exterior environments.  Below is a selection from a NACE (National Association of Corrosion Engineers) publication discussing the subject. The text is widely accepted as the most comprehensive guide to corrosion engineering.

Excerpt from: NACE Publication; “Corrosion Prevention by Protective Coatings” by Charles Munger; p: 153

“Although inorganic zinc coatings are made with metallic zinc, they should not be considered a metallic coating, e.g., galvanizing. There has been considerable discussion and controversy with regard to inorganic zinc coatings and galvanizing, with most of the proponents of either material taking a rather strong stand in favor of their particular product. Actually, inorganic zinc coatings and galvanizing should not be considered competitive. Rather, they should be considered complementary, since both of them provide an excellent corrosion-resistant application under the conditions where each one operates best.

They are two entirely different concepts of coating, even though they both rely on metallic zinc for the basis of their corrosion resistance. Both are chemically bonded to the metal surface, the galvanizing by an amalgam of zinc and iron, while the inorganic coating is bonded by a chemical compound of iron and silica. Actually galvanizing can be considered an inorganic zinc coating, and in many ways, it will do the same things that an inorganic zinc-rich coating will do.

There are also some basic differences. The zinc in an inorganic zinc coating is not continuous as it is with galvanizing. It is made up of individual zinc particles which are surrounded by and reactive with an inert zinc-silicate matrix. This matrix is very chemically inert and except for strong acids or alkalies, is unreactive with most environmental conditions where coatings would be used. This does not mean that in an acid atmosphere the zinc in the inorganic zinc coating might not be dissolved. However, because it is in a chemical-resistant matrix as discrete particles completely surrounded by the matrix, the solution of the zinc is slowed down in a major way. On the other hand, zinc in galvanizing is pure zinc, and any acid in the atmosphere reacts directly with it with no inhibition of the reaction, as in the case in the inorganic zinc coating. This is an important difference between the two materials and is the reason why, under many difficult corrosion conditions, the inorganic zinc coating will have a much longer life than the galvanizing under the same conditions. This has proven to be the case not only in laboratory testing over a number of years, but also in both industrial and marine atmospheres.

… (3 oz/ft2 hot dip galvanized panels) exposed to two years of tidal conditions (immersed and non-immersed) showed almost complete breakdown by pinpoint rusting; compared to (3 mils) of inorganic zinc coated panels with no appreciable corrosion.

Inasmuch as the zinc in a zinc coating is surrounded and interlocked into an inert matrix, the coating has controlled reactivity and controlled conductivity. (Testing) has shown that the metallic zinc was considerably more reactive than the zinc which was protected by the inorganic zinc matrix.

While galvanized surfaces provided a malleable zinc surface, the inorganic zinc coating, because of the hard, rock-like character of the zinc silicate matrix, results in a much harder and more abrasion resistant coating than metallic zinc. All the above differences generally indicate, on an exposure-for-exposure basis, that the inorganic zinc will tend to have a longer life span under more conditions than will the normally galvanized steel surface.”


So what does this all mean for my project? An inorganic zinc coating offers both chemical and galvanic protection with that a 1 mil layer pure zinc used in the galvanizing process cannot and does not offer the abrasion and chemical protection of an inorganic zinc primers.


VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

Comparing and testing generic topcoats for exterior use

One of the important factors a buyer considers during the paint buying process is how well topcoats perform during their service.

Also known as weathering finishes, these coatings are designed for ultraviolet (UV) exposure during exterior use. They’re common in any industry that requires equipment or structures to be used or kept outdoors. Topcoats are the first line of defense against the elements, providing protection to intermediate coats which are designed to protect primers.

And it’s important to note right away that there’s no such thing as a coating that doesn’t weather. All coatings fade and break down eventually. With a greater understanding of topcoat formulations and quality testing methods, you’re empowered to make the choice that offers the best protection for your critical assets.

Accelerated weathering testing

In these tests, UV and moisture exposure is simulated in controlled settings over abbreviated time frames to judge how well coatings stand up to the elements. This is a preferred method for testing and comparing weathering finishes because it’s impractical to rely on real-time field tests that would take years to complete.

However, accelerated weathering testing is an imperfect method that requires strict controls and an understanding that actual results may vary in the field. Consider these practical issues:

  • The UV lamps used to simulate sunlight in these tests emit radiation only in a very narrow bandwidth compared to the broad-spectrum UV radiation produced by the sun.
  • Proper testing in controlled conditions cannot replicate or predict the diversity of ever-changing operating conditions in the field.
  • There’s no accurate way to translate results from accelerated weathering testing to actual useful service lives for coatings in the field. The testing should only be used to compare coatings against one another in similar conditions.

Comparing coating formulations

Tests conducted on weathering finishes are designed to shed light on a few different things, such as:

  • Resin quality – Resins are key components in coatings because they form the matrices that hold color pigments in place. When testing coatings to judge the quality of their resins, it’s best to use white or light-colored formulas that lack color pigments. That’s because differing color pigments degrade at differing rates, and that could skew the results of tests targeting resins.
  • Color fastness – Not all pigments are created equal—even like-colored pigments. For example, the red pigments used to color a muscle car are of far higher quality than those used in other, shorter-term applications. When testing for color fastness, choose formulations with similar resin quality so that resin degradation doesn’t interfere with pigments.
  • Gloss retention – When comparing the rate at which gloss loss occurs in a coating, it’s critical that the angles to which lamps are set remain constant. Differing angles alter the way light impacts a painted surface, and results will not be reliable.

It’s important to maintain other constants in tests, too, like film thickness, application method, curing conditions, testing exposure cycles and testing surface preparation. Ignoring experimental controls allows too many variables to interfere with test results.

Performance benchmarks

The Society for Protective Coatings’ (SSPC) standard for two-component weatherable aliphatic polyurethane coatings (SSPC Paint 36) defines three performance levels for weathering finishes.

Level 1 finishes are rated based on 500-hour exposures during accelerated weathering tests. Level 2 finishes are rated based on 1,000-hour tests. Level 3 finishes are rated based on 2,000-hour tests.

Alkyds or oil-based coatings are typically tested in the 250 – 1,000 hour range; most of these coatings sustain significant gloss loss at the high end of this range.

Epoxies lose gloss quickly and begin to chalk after a couple hundred hours of exposure.

Acrylic formulations can vary widely, but they typically hold gloss for between 1,000 and 2,000 hours.

Polyurethanes are even more variable in formulation than acrylics and are commonly tested for several thousand hours. Polyurethane clear coats care often tested into the 5,000 hour range.

Siloxanes and fluorourethanes known as “ultra-weatherables” have shown impressive gloss retention even after 9,000 hours of accelerated weathering testing.

Comparing US Coatings finishes

US Coatings offers many weathering finishes. Buyers need to carefully consider all aspects of an asset or structure prior to choosing a weathering finish, including:

  • The intended use of the asset and whether such a finish is even appropriate.
  • Whether the aesthetic appeal of an asset is important to its end use.
  • Whether a such a finish is being used in conjunction with other coatings or asset protection systems.
  • How frequently you expect to re-coat the asset.

Use the chart below to determine which US Coatings product is the best match for your exposed assets:

We’re here to help you answer any questions you may have. If you want to talk through your options further, let’s talk. You can also explore our products in greater detail by downloading our product data sheets here.

Choosing the right weathering finish is just one step in assuring your next painting project goes off smoothly. In this guide, we take you through all the elements of a productive —and painless— industrial painting program.


VSC 1200: A direct-to-metal coating with advanced asset protection

Recoating aged and weathered coatings when proper prep is not always an option.

MasticGrip 2500 is a surface tolerant, aluminum flake filled, mastic epoxy which can act as primer or finish.

MasticGrip 2500  is an aluminum pigmented, low-stress, high-solids mastic with outstanding performance properties and offers . It has unique properties over conventional coatings because it wets out existing rust down to the steel substrate. MasticGrip 2500 coating in a number of industrial markets. Today it continues to provide unmatched levels of barrier protection and corrosion resistance over existing finishes and rusted steel; or is suitable for hand or power tool cleaned surfaces.

MasticGrip 2500: What is the Labyrinth Effect?

The Labyrinth effect essentially creates complex maze for moisture to not easily penetrate the coating. This is important because the rate of osmosis is a critical component to premature coating failure. MasticGrip 2500 utilizes aluminum flakes of various sizes which acts similar to a coat of armor for your substrate. The protection is effective against everyday abuse from UV, water, and chemicals.

Why use MasticGrip 2500 as a “everywhere” primer?

The low viscosity formulation enables it to wet out and penetrate rust down to the substrate, yet it’s high solids allows it to bond to a variety of aged coatings without crazing or lifting. In short, MasticGrip 2500 is the most dependable, robust protection for maintenance painting available. It’s the best primer choice for aged, weathered coatings that can’t be mechanically abraded. This primer/finish is the perfect solution for owner you would like to get five to ten more years out of an asset before a complete repaint down to bare steel.

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