What are Protective Coatings?

Posted by Performance Coatings Team on 01/11/2021

What’s the difference between coatings and protective coatings? Aren’t all coatings protective coatings? In the broadest sense that might be true. However, protective coatings are a particularly demanding segment of the paint and coatings industry where the primary function of the coating is to provide a performance that extends the life of a structure, vehicle or piece of equipment operating or residing in a relatively harsh environment.

The Merriam-Webster’s definition supports this view, defining a protective coating as “a type of paint, varnish or lacquer used more to protect than decorate.

Protective coatings are used to shield a wide range of structures and equipment, with the market segmented into several areas, including:

  • Industrial maintenance (including refinery and petrochemical plants)
  • Oil and gas exploration (including pipeline)
  • Power generation
  • Commercial architecture
  • Infrastructure
  • Water treatment
  • Marine

Most protective coatings are field applied after construction, employing multiple coating layers and high film thickness. However, some pieces are primed in the factory before being shipped to their final destination, where they are installed (constructed) and then given a final coat.

Performance Requirements

To be able to safeguard such a range of structures and equipment across these many areas, protective coatings have to meet a number of performance requirements. They have to resist corrosive attack, chemical attack, thermal degradation, fire and physical damage. Protective coatings are extremely valuable, given that the types of structures they protect are often very expensive, long-lasting and are required to maintain their structural integrity in extreme conditions—because failure to do so could result in critical damages or even loss of life. Protective coatings can also be smart coatings, being able to help predict and communicate when their ability to protect is coming to an end.

Global Markets for Protective Coatings

While Europe and North America represent significant size markets (approximately 20% and 15% respectively), the largest market is Asia. The Asia region represents approximately 60% of the protective coatings market. China alone represents almost two-thirds of the Asian market, equating to 40% of the global market. There is a plethora of protective coatings producers around the world, but the top 11 suppliers combine for 70% of the global market.

Lubrizol is committed to coating technology innovation for protective coatings and is ready to collaborate with formulators to meet diverse coating challenges. In future blog articles, we’ll share additional information and news on the advancement and value of protective coatings. In the meantime, contact us to learn more about Lubrizol’s innovations in resins, dispersants and specialty additives that contribute to corrosion protection, aesthetic appeal and toughness for the protective coatings.

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