Common Paint Colours in Australia

This article gives an overview of different colours of industrial paints used in Australia, and what purpose they are commonly used for. Note that all advice is general in nature, and you should consult an expert before making a decision.

Common Industrial Paint Colours for Structural Steelwork;

  • Y14 Golden Yellow – used for a high visibility safety coating on handrails, ladders and walkways.
  • N53 Blue Grey – a darker grey colour often used for structural steel in mining projects.
  • N35 Light Grey – a lighter grey colour often used for structural steel in mining projects.
  • N63 Black – standard black – often used for walkway grating.
  • N14 White – standard white colour, used for communications conduit or covers.
  • N24 Silver Grey – a mid-grey silver colour often used for steam pipelines.
  • N33 Lightbox Grey – mid-grey colour (not to be confused with N52 Mid Grey)
  • B41 Bluebell – solid light blue colour.
  • G21 Jade – solid green colour used for steel piping containing water.
  • R13 Signal Red – solid red colour used for water pipelines as part of a fire-system. Formerly known as Post-Box Red.
  • Y44 Sand – a yellowish off white colour used for gas pipelines.
  • B25 Aqua – blue-green colour used for compressed air pipes.
  • P23 Lilac – a light purple colour often used for acid & chemical pipelines.
  • G36 Kikuyu – high visibility green
  • X15 Orange – standard orange colour often used for electrical conduits or covers.
  • X42 Biscuit – a light pinky-brown colour. often used for Structural Steel in mining projects.
  • X53 Golden Tan – Mid-brown colour, used for diesel & oil pipelines. Not to be confused with ‘X51 Tan’.
  • Y34 Cream – pinky off-white colour
  • Y35 Off White – like white, but a bit off.
  • Y43 Parchment – very close to Y44 Sand, slightly more grey.

What is AS2700 Colour Standards

In 1985, the Australian Standard 2700 was released, in order to have a standard set of colours that are recognised by all paint manufacturers. This removed confusion with different shade colours and identical names. The AS2700 Colours are coded with one letter and two numbers, e.g. N53, Y14 or R13. Each colour has a unique name that corresponds with the code. e.g. N53 Blue Grey or Y14 Golden Yellow. All AS2700 colours can be specified for painting projects in Australia, and they can be obtained from all major paint manufacturers.

Y14 – The Colour of Handrail – and why it matters

In Western Australia, ‘Safety Yellow’ is often the term used for the yellow colour of handrail and other metal safety items. Safety yellow is not actually a standard colour, but more a term to describe the high-visibility yellow used for steel grating, walkways and handrails. We suggest using Y14 Golden Yellow (from AS2700 standards), as this colour is most commonly used, and Y14 is produced as a ‘factory batch’ paint, rather than it being tinted from a base.

The colour of tinted paints is made from a ‘base’ which is as close to the colour range as possible, and then pigments are added to obtain the correct colour. Some colours, especially those in the yellow & orange range, are usually tinted from a clear base, which means they can contain a lot of pigments. When painting the most vibrant orange & red colours, it is very difficult to even cover a white or sand coloured primer coat. The coating may be the correct thickness, however the colour underneath is showing through, discolouring the finish. If further coats are added to acheive the right colour, the coating may end up too thick and therefore fail prematurely.

On occasion, clients have specified Y15 Sunflower Yellow, Y11 Canary Yellow, Y12 Wattle Yellow, Y13 Vivid Yellow, and X15 Orange as the colour chosen for their handrail, walkways, guards and other safety items. We strongly recommend that Y14 Golden Yellow is used for handrails, mesh guards and grating, as this will give the best result, reduce the chance of premature coating failure.

What Colour Should I Paint Structural Steelwork?

Mining companies in Western Australia will often specify what colour they want their steelwork painted, and while there are many different options, there are a few common colours that stand out. (For types of paint for structural steel, see this page.)

  • N35 Light Grey – N35 is a nice medium grey colour that will match with anything. A lot of steelwork in Western Australia is painted in N35 Light Grey, and no issues have come to our attention. N35 is made as a factory batch product (meaning it is not tinted) for most high build epoxy paints. It is specified in mining specifications including Rio Tinto specifications.
  • N53 Blue Grey – N53 is slightly darker than N35 and is often used for structural steelwork in the mining industry. It is specified in mining specifications including BHP specifications.
  • X42 Biscuit – X42 is a neutral pink colour, occasionally used for mining infrastructure steelwork in W.A.

What is the Yellow & Black Colour on Safety Bollards?

You may have seen steel bollards painted with black and yellow stripes, which are used for protecting walkways and personel areas from vehicles and traffic management. The high-visibility yellow colour is usually Y14 Golden Yellow, and the black stripes are N61 Black. Bollards can be galvanised or raw steel, and will often have an epoxy primer at 75 microns thick and then an epoxy topcoat at 50-75um thick. The stripes are normally applied over the top of the yellow topcoat, to give a uniform finish without any gaps between the two colours.

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