Talking to a Paint Specs Professional
Finding out who to talk to about paint specifications is often one of the biggest hurdles for facility owners and managers. They simply don’t know where to start. They usually rely on one of three options. They either reach out directly to a contractor, to an engineering firm or to the manufacturers themselves.
There are obvious issues with expecting a contractor to write paint specifications for a project, especially if they plan on being involved in the bidding process. The potential for conflict of interest between the contractor and owner is simply too high. That said, a trusted contractor is often able to point an owner in the direction of an engineering firm or manufacturer with whom they’ve worked in the past and whose specifications they have been satisfied with.
Engineering firms tend to write thorough, detailed project specification sheets, though typically at a cost. When it comes to the paint portion of the specification, some larger engineering firms will have a coatings specialist on staff. Others will, like contractors, fall back on trusted connections they’ve worked with in the past. This may mean going directly to the manufacturer to consult product data sheets or for an opinion on products. Say, for instance, which coating would be capable of standing up to a specific chemical concoction housed in a large storage tank.
Coatings manufacturers specialize in the sort of details hashed out in a paint specification sheet. They are familiar with the strengths and drawbacks of their products, ideal application conditions and the best methods for applying them. Coatings sales representatives need to make sure their products work properly. They have a vested interest in writing specifications in such a way that their products live out their service lives and successfully guard against corrosion. Otherwise, repeat business is a pipe dream.
That said, owners should not assume that all manufacturer-generated spec sheets are created equal. Some will call it a done deal once they’ve talked to you on the phone, heard you describe the conditions in your facility, and then written you a recommendation for a product that will probably get the job done. In general, if a manufacturer makes a recommendation after only one phone call, it’s time to cue the alarm bells.
A more detailed approach to a paint specification sheet is likely needed for a successful project. The writer should have a feel for the ambient conditions surrounding the asset in question. Personally inspecting current levels of corrosion, atmospheric conditions, frequency of wetting, operating temperature fluctuations and other site-specific concerns will lead to a better understanding of the stresses the coatings will be exposed to, and the level of protection needed to preserve the asset.
If an owner should decide to go to a coatings manufacturer for writing paint specifications, he or she should demand at least that level of detail. If the manufacturer is unable or unwilling to accommodate those standards, it would perhaps be wise to explore other options. Remember, the specification sheet will determine the entire scope and direction of your project. It’s not a place to cut corners.
If you would like to discuss writing paint specifications further – the writing process, what you should expect from a completed document, or ask any question you may have – please contact one of our NACE-certified professionals at US Coatings.
Alternatively, if you want to know more about paint specifications, download our comprehensive guide to writing paint specifications below.