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Posted by Michael Whalen on 7/6/2023 to

Tips for Properly Maintaining Industrial Coatings 

The world is not a hospitable place for industrial equipment. The atmosphere contains about 3,100 cubic miles of water, any amount of which can tarnish or at least corrode almost all metals (and water is one of the less corrosive chemicals industrial equipment comes into contact with). The sun ceaselessly bombards the earth with ultraviolet light, which fades paint, discolors wood and degrades plastic. Furthermore, adhesion constantly threatens to gum up machinery and constrict pipes. 

Industrial coatings don't offer perfect protection against an environment that seems determined to gradually destroy all man-made things, but they are certainly helpful. Chiefly made of epoxy or polyurethane polymer substances, industrial coatings protect metal, concrete, wood and other materials against chemicals, corrosion, adhesion and abrasion. 

If you wish to maintain your industrial equipment, then you have no choice but to properly maintain its coatings. Here are a few tips to help you get the best lifespan from those coatings. 

Identify the Signs of Coating Failure 

Peeling, cracking and chalking all indicate that a coating is failing. Premature failure often results from incorrect application, which means that the coating cannot provide optimal protection against abrasion or corrosion.  

A polymer coating may fail if it was applied to an inadequately prepared surface. Likewise, it can fail if it was created at an incorrect temperature or humidity. An inexperienced or distracted technician may fail to follow proper application protocol. They may also formulate the coating incorrectly, or use a formulation that isn't suitable for the industry they are servicing. 

If you see blistering, blushing, checking, cratering, delamination, or any other signs of premature coating degradation*, get in front of the problem right away. If the contractor that applied the coating is unwilling to correct their mistake, then finding an alternative source for reapplication should become your priority. 

*It is normal for both aromatic polyurethane and epoxy coatings to yellow over time. 

Treat Powder Coated Surfaces Correctly 

Powder coating is much tougher than paint, but you can still mistreat it badly enough to damage it. Many chemicals are bad for powder coating. Acetone, which can soften a powder coat's surface and shorten its lifespan, is one of them. Methyl ethyl ketone, which is commonly used by many industries because of its strong corrosive and oxidative properties, is another. Contact cleaners and thinners are similarly detrimental to powder coating. 

Treat Epoxy Coated Floors Correctly 

Epoxy can be formulated to exhibit outstanding resistance to moisture and chemical stains. That and its longevity make epoxy popular as a floor coating in industrial settings. But epoxy's durability does not mean it is invulnerable to damage. Daily sweeping and weekly scrubbing are both needed to protect epoxy coated floors.* So too are immediate clean-ups after every spill.  

Take care to avoid dragging heavy machinery across epoxy coated floors. Do not drop heavy objects on it, or clean it with a stiff-bristled brush. If an epoxy floor gets cut, gouged or scratched, it may no longer form an effective watertight seal. If the floor is visibly damaged, the area must be sanded and recoated. 

*Never use caustic cleaning solution on an epoxy floor. 

Clean With a Pressure Washer 

Dry ice blasting and dustless blasting are useful for completely removing industrial coatings. Cleaning them, not so much. Even heavy scrubbing can damage a coating's topcoat. 

The preferred method for cleaning large expanses of coated surfaces is power washing.* It just has to be performed with greater care than you would exercise while cleaning a driveway or patio. Use the weakest water pressure that will reliably remove dirt and grime from the surface. If you encounter an extremely oily, greasy or otherwise soiled area, you may use mild, natural detergent without compromising the coating's integrity. Finally, make certain you are pressure washing with filtered water, as tap or ground water may contain solutes which stain coatings. 

*Water and mild soap are sufficient for cleaning smaller coated surfaces. 

Be Proactive 

However rugged it might be, any industrial coating will eventually require maintenance. But scheduling it is not as simple as picking regular intervals on a calendar. Coatings which aren't exposed to frequent wear and tear may remain effective long after the installing contractor's prediction. Conversely, coatings that are constantly exposed to impact, abrasion or corrosive substances are more likely to fall short of their expected lifespans. 

Pay close attention to the coated surfaces that work the hardest. They are more likely to require maintenance the soonest. 

At Lovitt's Coatings, we understand that picking the ideal stain and sealer for your log home or cabin can be a confusing process. When it comes to industrial applications – where far more than the value of a single home is at stake – selecting the ideal coating can feel even more stressful. But it doesn't have to be! Although we specialize in coatings for wood and concrete, we have a very knowledgeable staff to direct you to the correct products and processes for your situation. Contact us today and our friendly and knowledgeable team will make certain you have the information and products that ensure total success.