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defects in paint coatings

by CM Staff systems, with detailed descriptions of a wide range

based on information supplied by Wattyl Paints of generic paint types, their suggested uses and
INTRODUCTION In some cases, paint failures can be traced to the
incorrect selection of paint for the particular
Recognising the type of paint failure encountered in application.One of the most common examples of
the field is an important mechanism in ensuring quality incorrect paint selection is the use of alkyd (oil based)
coatings and coating application. Identification of paints, for painting galvanized coatings.
causes of problems can be fed back into the
specification and application process to avoid The paint reacts with the zinc in the galvanized coating
repetition of failure events. and loses its adhesion, resulting in the common
phenomenon of flaking or peeling paint.
Causes of paint coating failure are frequently
associated with either: Many paints have poor UV resistance, and again, oil
• incorrect specification based paints, unless they are specially formulated will
• faulty material rarely give the same durability as water-based acrylic
• incorrect application paints, which have excellent UV stability over time,
• incorrect curing/post handling procedures. or two-pack uretahne or acrylic systems.

All paints eventually fail by weathering and the life Water based acrylic paints have very good
expectancy of a paint system will be well defined by compatibility with galvanized coatings and rarely have
the manufacturer or within performance standards adhesion problems on properly prepared surfaces.
such as AS/NZS 2312 - Guide to the Protection of
Industrial or marine applications are critical
Iron and Steel from Atmospheric Corrosion.
applications where the performance requirements of
Those that fail prematurely will have done so because the paint system must be clearly understood.
of an identifiable problem associated with their
Epoxy coatings are often considered the cure-all for
most industrial applications, but may perform poorly
A great deal of research has gone into paint in highly acidic exposures or where movement or
technology development by the major Australian and vibration may result in cracking of the relatively
international paint companies as they compete with infexible paint film.
each other and with other coatings and materials to
It is therefore important for specifiers to clearly
produce better performing products.
identify the environment in which the coating has to
Environmental pressures on paint manufacturers to operate and ensure that paint systems selected are
eliminate potentially hazardous pigments and reduce capable of delivering the life cycle performance
the amount of volatile organic greenhouse-causing expected.
solvents in paint coatings has accelerated the
There is always a reason for every coating failure,
development of new types of paint coatings.
and frequently, coating defects do not always affect
Water based, low solvent or solventless coatings have the coating’s performance, but only its appearance.
replaced many of the standard industrial coatings of
The following catalogue of paint defects has been
yesteryear. Hybrid organic/inorganic binder systems
assembled with associated descriptions of causes and
have also been developed that, while expensive, offer
remedies to assist in identifying problems and dealing
advances in durability over traditional technologies.
with them to ensure a quality coating.
Again, AS/NZS 2312 provides one of the most
valuable reference works for paint coatings and paint

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SAGS - also called runs or curtains. Spray gun too close to work; too Before cure, brush out excess paint
Excess flow of paint much thinner; too much paint; or and modify spray conditions. After
surface too hard or glossy to hold cure, sand and apply another coat.

ORANGE PEEL - hills, valleys in Paint too viscous; gun too close to Before cure, brush out excess paint
paint resembling skin of orange surface; solvent evaporated too fast; and modify spray conditions. After
or air pressure too low for proper cure, sand and apply another coat.

OVERSPRAY - also called dry spray. Particles reaching surface not wet Before cure, remove by dry brushing
Dry, flat, pebbly surface enough to level because of too rapid followed by solvent wiping. After
solvent evaporation; gun too far from cure, sand and apply another coat.
surface; or paint particles falling
outside spray pattern.

COBWEBBING - thin, stringy paint, Solvent evaporating too rapidly. Use slower evaporating solvent or
spider web-like particles Most common with fast evaporating apply when cooler. After cured, sand
lacquers, such as vinyls and and apply another coat.
chlorinated rubbers.

CRATERING - also called pitting. Air pockets trapped in wet film during Sand or blast to smooth finish and
Small, uniform identations in film spraying. apply additional coats.

FISH EYES - separation or pulling Application over oil, dirt, silicon, or Sand or blast remove; brush apply a
apart of wet film to expose underlying incompatible coating. fresh coat plus topcoat.
finish or substrate

BLUSHING - flat finish with milky Moisture condensation in high Sand or blast remove; respray with
appearance humidity with fast evaporating or retarder added to thinner.
unbalanced thinner in spray

UNEVEN GLOSS - non uniform Non uniform film thickness; moisture Allow to dry and apply another finish
sheen, shiny spots in film. Temperature change during coat under acceptable conditions for
curing; or paint applied over soft or moisture and humidity.
wet undercoat.

FADING - colour changes or Ultraviolet light degradation; or Repaint and avoid possible sources
irregularities moisture behind paint film. of moisture.

WRINKLING - rough, crinkled Surface skinning over uncured paint Scrape off wrinkles and apply thinner
surface because of too much thickness and/ coat; avoid intense sunlight.
or too warm weather, especially with
oil-based paints.

BLISTERING - small to large broken Solvent entrapment; oil, moisture or Blowers in enclosed areas to
or unbroken bubbles salt-contaminated surfaces; or accelerate solvent release; adequate
cathodic disbonding. cleaning of surface contamination;
proper levels of cathodic protection.

PINHOLING - tiny, deep holes Insufficient paint spray atomization; If uncured, brush out and apply
exposing substrate coarse atomization; or settled additional coat. If cured, apply
pigment. additional coat.

PINPOINT RUSTING - rusting at Pinholing or too high a steel surface Use holiday detector for early
pinholes or holidays profile for coating thickness. detection of pinholes; apply
additional coats after mechanical or
blast cleaning.

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CHECKING - narrow breaks, usually Limited paint flexibility; too thick a Sand or mechanically remove
short, in topcoat that expose coat; or applied at too high a checked coat and apply another coat.
undercoat temperature.

CRACKING - deep cracks in paint Paint shrinkage; limited flexibility; Sand, blast, or mechanically remove
that expose substrate excessive thickness (especially zinc- total paint and apply new coat.
rich paints); or applied/cured at too
high a temperature.

UNDERCUTTING - blistering and/ Corrosion products formed where Early detection of defects with
or peeling of paint where exposed steel is exposed, undermining and holiday detector and correction; use
steel is rusting lifting paint. inhibitive pigments in primer.

DIRT UNDER PAINT - peeling; dirt Contaminated surface, spray, or work Sand, blast, or mechanically remove
dried in paint film area. paint and re-coat.

DELAMINATION - peeling from Separation/lifting of paint from Sand or mechanically remove all
undercoat or substrate chalky substrate or smooth, poor- loose paint, clean and roughen
bonded undercoat. smooth surface, and re-coat.

PIGMENT OVERLOAD - also called Critical pigment level exceeded Apply properly prepared finish coat.
pigment float, mottled surface (sometimes by tinting white paint
rather than tint base).

IRREGULAR SURFACE Difficult to coat surfaces; or Round edges; fillet weld seams and
DETERIORATION - deterioration at configurations that permit collection crevices; avoid configurations that
edges, corners, crevices, channels, of moisture, salt, and dirt. permit collection of contaminants;
etc. provide drainage.

ABRASION DAMAGE - mechanical Physical damage by abrasion (also Provide fendering protection; spot
damage impact). repair and use more abrasion or
impact-resistant coatings.

FOULING DAMAGE - penetration or Barnacles, etc, penetrating soft Remove and replace damaged paint with
peeling by action of marine fouling coatings (eg. coal tar); weight of one tougher or more adherent; use anti-
organisms fouling peeling poorly bonded paint. fouling paints for fouling control.

MUD CRACKING - deep, irregular A relatively inflexible coating applied Remove coating and abrasively blast
cracks as with dried mud too thickly (especially common with steel before reapplying lesser thickness;
inorganic zincs). sanding/mechanical cleaning may be
acceptable on older substrates.

PEELING OF MULTIPLE COATS - Stress from weathering (contraction If limited, spot-remove loose paint
peeling of heavy paint build-up from of total system) exceeds adhesion to and apply flexible paint (e.g. latex); if
substrate substrate. extensive, scrape, sandblast,
mechanically or chemically remove
paint to substrate before re-coating.

PEELING OF THICK, INFLEXIBLE Stress from cured, weathered Same as above

PAINT - peeling of thick paint from (contracted) paint exceeds adhesion
substrate to substrate.

PAINT APPLIED TO DAMP Moisture on substrate distorts wet Remove by scraping or sanding and
SURFACE - heavy wrinkling film. re-coat under dry conditions.

MOISTURE DAMAGE - peeling of No means by which interior moisture Use wedges between adjacent lap
paint by underlying moisture can be vented to exterior. boards, vents, etc, for migration;
clean painted vent holes.

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EFFLORENSCENCE DAMAGE - Moisture through concrete, Treat as in NCEL Tech Data Sheet
paint disbonding and peeling by masonry, or brick picks up soluble 77-10 or NAVFAC MO-110, for
loose, powdery material salts and deposits them on the concrete/masonry before painting;
surface from the interior (can be on seal more humid side of wells.
interior or exterior well of building).

VINE PENETRATION OF PAINT - Vines so close to structure that Relocate vines away from structure;
vine tendrils penetrate paint tendrils penetrate paint for support. sand and re-coat damaged areas.

MILDEW GROWTH - black fungal Microorganisms grow, especially on Clean and repaint as described in
growth damp, shaded paint, defacing and NAVFAC MO-110, and
degrading it.

CHALKING EROSION - gradual Degradation of coating resin by Remove loose chalk and apply chalk-
thinning of finish coat to expose sunlight leaving loose residue; resistant finish coat.
undercoat especially bad with thin coats,
epoxies, and substrates where chalk
is frequently removed.

BLEEDING - brown staining of paint Organic solvent in wet paint or fresh Use latex paint over bituminous
in asphalt or coat tar coating asphalt dissolves bituminous materials; allow asphalt pavements
material and causes it to migrate to cure 21 days before applying paint.
through paint.

SKINNING/DETERIORATION OF Improper storage of paint (e.g. in sun Store indoors in cool environment;
STORED PAINT and rain), especially fast drying avoid opening and resealing of large
paints. containers.

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Description: Flaking paint over gal-

vanized surface.

Cause: Incorrect surface preparation.

Incorrect primer/topcoat.

Remedy: Remove flaking paint by

scraping or wire brushing. Highb
pressure water wash surface. Apply
appropriate water based or epoxy
priming systems.

Description: Flaking two-pack

epoxy paint on crane rails in galva-
nizing plant pre-treatment building.

Cause: Low pH condensation (pH1)

and flexing and vibration of crane
rails in service cause brittle paint
film to crack and promote underfilm

Remedy: Wet abrasive blast back to

remove surface contamination and
old paint. Apply flexible, acid resist-
ant recoatable mastic type coating

Description: Efflourescence bleeding

through pinholes in paint film in ma-
rine exposure.

Cause: Pinholes in paint film caused

by solvent entrapment or single coat

Remedy: Ensure piant is currectly

applied and cured. Use multi-coat
system to eliminate pinholes.

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Description: Underfilm corrosion in

defined regions of coating.This large
tank has areas of clearly defined paint
system performance.

Cause: Area on far left has severe

local underfilm corrosion indicating
initial poor surface preparation/prim-
ing. Centre zone is in good condi-
tion. Right hand zone shows general
overall deterioration consistent with
normal weathering but ealy failure
indicative of low initial dry film thick-
ness for the system.

Remedy: Apply as for centre zone.

Description: Early failure of mainte-

nance topcoat system along beam

Cause: Adhesion of old paint insuffi-

cient to accommodate surface tension
effects of new two-pack system epoxy

Remedy: Completely remove old paint

prior to re-coating or use more
flexibible re-coating system compat-
ible with old paint.

Description: Blistering of paint on


Cause: Areas of contamination on sur-

face interfering with primer adhesion.

Remedy: Ensure surface cleanliness

prior to application. On existing item,
mechanically remove any blistered
areas and feather back to sound paint.
Re-apply primer and topcoat.

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