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Can you afford not to use a Coatings Inspector?

universities specialist contractors

Last year Mick Flounders, CSC Services’ Contracts Director completed Level 1 and 2 of the NACE Coating Inspector Program. In this short blog Mick shares his thoughts on why using a Coatings Inspector is so important and how it can save money long term…

The NACE Coatings Inspector Program is the world’s most recognised coating inspector certification program that introduces inspectors, applicators, blasters, manufacturers and technical salesmen to the basics of corrosion control, paint inspection, and project management. NACE claims the program has resulted in savings of billions of dollars in costly mistakes, and when you know a bit more about coating inspection is easy to see how and why.

The role of a Coatings Inspector is defined as that of a “quality control technician” who is primarily responsible for observing and reporting the technical aspects of a coating project and its conformance or deviation from a project specification. The course really embeds the importance of a project specification which then becomes a bencher for inspection throughout a given project.

It is generally accepted that a coating is a highly complex material. It is a thin film that protects two reactive materials with many factors affecting the success of its application.  As the effects of a coatings failure can be very expensive and potentially hazardous to fix, quality control becomes an essential part of any successful coatings program. Whether supplied by a contractor completing the program such as CSC Services or a third party a Coatings Inspector will verify that aspects, such as of surface preparation, coating application, adhesion, and other factors are in line with the coating specification.

Surface Preparation

The first level of the program covers techniques for surface preparation. All too often coatings will fail due to incorrect substrate surface preparation. Surfaces generally need to be grit blasted or hydro blasted to form a mechanical key. Correct substrate surface preparation of concrete for instance involves correct application of pore fillers and fairing coats to address blow holes or honey combing in concrete surfaces. Fairing coats need to be applied correctly to leave the required surface profile.

Products and Application

A Coatings Inspector is trained to understand why different coatings are required for specific environments. Understanding the complex nature of coatings emphasises the need for good specifications and inspection procedures. Some products have high abrasion resistance, tensile strengths and high elongation properties. Using a high tensile strength coating with no elongation properties on a substrate where movement may occur will result in cracks and failure in the coating. A lack of specialist knowledge may result in incorrect mixing of products.

A coatings Inspector can ensure the correct application method of a product at the correct application temperature. Various products require certain environmental conditions. Dew points, temperature, humidity, and air flow need to be considered to avoid condensation causing a failure in the curing process. 

Curing time is also a key consideration. Coating products require a certain amount of time to chemically bond as specified in the technical data. Not leaving sufficient time may mean the product fails. After curing, a product should be fully cleaned and inspected for fails by a Coatings Inspector.

Inspection Techniques

Coatings Inspectors are trained how to look for discoloration, chipping, or flaking of coatings which may indicate a substrate has corroded beneath the coating. Level 2 also goes on to focus on advanced inspection techniques and specialised application methods for both steel and non-steel substrates, including concrete using both nondestructive and destructive techniques. Ultrasonic waves, electromagnetic waves, thermography, and lasers can all be used to check whether coatings are performing as intended or that they were applied correctly. NDT methods allow inspectors to accurately assess the dry film thickness (DFT) and bonding properties of a coating to ensure proper application.

Use of a Coatings Inspector can not only protect against coating failure which can be catastrophic but can also provide peace of mind to the client/owner by ensuring the coating protecting an asset will have a long life.

You can contact Mick for information or advice about coatings by e-mail at