Coating Inspection

Coating inspection

Coating inspection: Maintain highest quality standards

Problems can arise during the pre-treatment, application and curing phases of a coating job. Coating jobs that at first seem perfect can begin to fail. There are so many variables in any coating application, from the envrionment to the material itself, that getting a perfect job is a highly skilled task. This is why we need the coating inspection: we need trained and certified professionals on board at every step, testing and guiding the coating process, as well as making sure the coating job is maintained.

Do it once, do it right; the cost of repairing a badly executed coating can be many times the cost to paint it in the first place.

The agent of the coating inspection

drone coating inspection

Coatings in hard-to-reach places may have their coating inspection via drone

A coating inspector (or paint inspector) is someone who has the formal training and certification to inspect coatings. Their knowledge is not just related to the qualities of the coating, but also the best environment and application for each coating in each setting. A coating inspector:

  • takes surface readings
  • calibrates and uses dry film thickness (DFT) gauges
  • uses wet film thickness gauges
  • is familiar with the standards applied to each coating
  • is familiar with all the contributing factors when applying a coat: humidity, temperature, pressure, cleanliness etc

…Just to name a few. They are a vital part of the coating process because they judge conditions before, during and after a coating is applied, as well as suggesting which coating best suits all the variables. And for coatings in hard-to-reach or dangerous places, there is the development of inspection by drone.

Coating inspection processes: before and after application

The coating survey

Anti corrosion coating needs a coating inspection

If you are coating infrastructure you require a coating inspection

First of all you have a facility, infrastructure, asset or machinery that requires coating, or a coating job that needs refurbishing or evaluating. You want assurance that the job will, at every step, be of only the highest quality. Therefore, your coating inspection procedure starts with a site condition survey. This condition survey will answer questions such as:

  • What is the substrate, and what is its condition?
  • Is there previous coating, and is it damaged?
  • Is there deterioration, such as rust or peeling?
  • To what degree is there damage, does it require starting again?
  • Are there any environmental issues which need to be taken into account?

Any problems that might be found, or maintenance required, needs to be dealt with.

Writing the specification

Is your coating specification comprehensive, does it allow for no misunderstandings between engineers, coaters, contractors, and managers? The specification needs to clearly describe the owner’s expectations for their project, aesthetically and structurally. A well-written specification contains as much detail as is required to make these expectations clear, in plain, unambiguous terms. It is a template, and thus needs to be as accurate as possible for the finished product to turn out as planned.

Some manufacturers actually have specification services that they provide, so that every step of the process is overseen by someone who knows the coating products inside out.


lack of anti corrosion coating under screws

A coating inspection can catch a problem before it goes too far

Is the coating conforming to the expectations outlined in the specification? An examination of all coatings needs to be carried out, to check that properties such as thickness, corrosion and fire damage all conform to the specification. Corrosion costs UK companies billions of pounds a year in replacing and repairing damaged assets, so having a regular coating inspection can catch the problem before it goes too far.

Failure analysis

It happens. Coating projects fail, damage happens, or corrosion wins. In this case, the coating inspection has one goal – to find the culprit. Like a detective, they will gather and analyse information about the coating, its environment, its usage, its application process and thus uncover the reason behind the failure. Once found, they outline the best way forward to deal with the issue and how to prevent it recurring in the future.

Coating inspection courses and certifications: ICorr and NACE

ICorr Certification

The Institute of Corrosion (the UK’s corrosion authority), provides a number of courses that enable paint inspectors to acquire the necessary qualifications to carry out inspections in the field. The courses are in Levels 1, 2, and 3, and are internationally accredited and recognised. The highest level is level 3, and only they are trained and certified to write paint specifications for coatings projects.

NACE Certification

The NACE Coating Inspector Program (CIP) has been setting the standard for inspections in the protective coatings industry for over 30 years. The CIP is an international certification programme that produces the highest calibre of paint inspectors. Like the ICorr qualifications, these come in Level 1, 2, and 3, with 3 being the highest. NACE also publishes a book outlining the use of coating inspection instruments.

A thickness gauge is an instrument used in a coating inspection

A thickness gauge is an instrument used in a coating inspection

Coating inspection instruments

The instrumentation is a vital part of a coating inspection and there are many options, including coating inspection kits, to ensure that readings and calculations are done correctly. A coating inspection kit includes the following instruments:

  • a thickness gauge
  • a hygrometer (for testing humidity)
  • a dewpoint calculator
  • a thermometer with surface probe
  • a wet film gauge

Coating inspection companies UK

Many companies operating in the UK offer coating inspection services. The following are a small sample. If you would like more information about the right company for you, please contact us!

CorrproCoating inspections, specifications, quality control, corrosion surveys, failure analysis, NACE certification.Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland
Trowers Way, Redhill
Paint Inspection LtdPaint inspection, coating/corrosion condition surveys, technical support, quality control and document review, paint sample testing, failure analysis, ICorr and NACE Level 2 and 3 inspectors.Head Office: Fareham, Hampshire.
North East: Yarm Road Industrial Estate, Darlington.
South West: Sowton, Exeter.
North West: Fearnhead, Warrington
SGSCoating inspection, failure analysis, damage assessment, technical support, repair advice, quality control, coating research and manufacturing inspection.Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

Do you need a coating inspection?
If you would like information about inspections or contractors, please contact us!

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