Cost of Protective Coatings

Ferro-Clean Learning Centre – How Much do Protective Coatings Cost?

Protective coating structural steel rates for painting

What drives costs up?

The cost of protective coatings can vary enormously, depending on a range of factors. Of course, these factors include obvious things such as the blast class and type of paint specified, but you may be surprised to learn that other factors such as the configuration, size and weight of an object or the colour of the paint can play a role in the price of protective coatings application. We have listed some of the factors below that can influence the price of your project.

What keeps costs down?

Cheap blasting & painting prices usually come from a lower-grade specification, where less time and materials are required to finish the job to standard. Also the complexity of the item can play a large part – a complex steel truss will take much more time to blast & paint than if it was done in individual pieces. Choosing a common paint system can result in cheaper protective coatings application, as the painting company is more likely to have the materials on hand and reduces the amount of job-specific tasks. Read more below about how to make your industrial painting project cheaper.

Factors influencing the price of protective coatings application

  • The paint system, which includes;
    • The type of paint/s – industrial paints can range from $10/L up to $100/L. There are many types of epoxy primers, zincs, and topcoats available. Just the same as the most expensive paint may not be the right choice for your project, also the cheapest paint may not give adequate protection and end up costing more to repaint in future. Read more about paint types here.
    • The paint manufacturer – allowing for a range of different manufacturers gives the painting company more scope to choose a reliable brand and use a trusted paint product. Ferro-Clean uses all the major paint manufacturers – Dulux, Jotun, International, Wattyl, Hempel, PPG, Sherwin Williams and many more. Read more about paint manufacturers here.
    • The colour of the paint. The cost of paints differ by their colour, as a standard colour will usually be cheaper and for non-standard colours, the base & tint used also have different prices. This is common for epoxy top-coats – most zincs & primers are only available in a few standard colours. Read more about paint colours here.
    • The number of coats of paint – a 3 coat system will often take 4-5 times longer than a single coat system. This is because adequate drying time must be allowed between the coats of paint to ensure the paint solvent is not trapped in a previous layer, causing bubbles, pin holes and curing issues. This longer processing time usually adds to the cost substantially.
    • The thickness of the paint – a thicker paint system will take longer to cure and must be handled very carefully whilst it is curing. A 500 micron coat of epoxy paint may need to be done in 2-3 separate coats to build up the required thickness. Read more about paint thickness here.
  • The blast class specification – You may think that it would be best to blast steel to ‘Class 3 – white metal finish’ every time, after all that gets rid of all the rust on the surface, right? However it isn’t always necessary, in some cases it is detrimental and can lead to premature rusting and coating failure. Read more about different blast classes here.
  • The size & dimensions of the steelwork/item – a standard I-beam, RHS or C-channel are very easy to handle and to blast & paint, therefore take less time. This is because the work is very repetitive and can be blasted with a machine. This time saving translates into a cheaper price. Structural steelwork with a lot of cross-bracing or cleats takes longer to paint and requires a lot of skill to get a uniform paint thickness.
  • The size of the painting company – Larger companies have greater economies of scale, which reduces the start-up costs associated with blasting & painting steelwork. Dedicated and skilled staff will get your project done right & on time.
  • The required timeframe for the project – by combining similar projects with the same paint system, the costs can be kept low, however this is only possible if the project is not urgent and adequate time is given to finish the job. Paint jobs can be rushed through to meet an urgent deadline, however it does increase the costs significantly.

Why are some painting companies so expensive?

Within the industry, some industrial painting companies have higher cost bases, due to their location or age of equipment. During a mining boom, the cost of labour increases and there is less availability of skilled workers. Some painting companies hire their workers out during quiet periods, however this can lead to increased costs during busy periods. Note: Ferro-Clean does not engage in such practices. When a painting company is booked up to their capacity, there is often extra costs (e.g. overtime or storage charges) that result in price rises during busy periods. An expensive quote may also mean that the protective coatings applicator has mis-read the request for quote and has quoted a much higher specification than is required. By the same token, a steel fabricator may have asked for a particular specification or testing method that is not actually needed (e.g. adhesion testing or pinhole detection), and therefore the price is more than they expected.

Why are some painting companies so cheap?

Painting companies who have very little work may drop their prices to secure an order. This is not recommended, as the price may actually be below cost, in which case the company may cut corners and not meet the required standard for the job. Note: Ferro-Clean does not engage in such practices. Cheap protective coating applicators may not be able to provide quality reports for the job, which can lead to major conflicts with the end client and could result in late payment for the steel fabricator. Some industrial painting companies have not updated their prices to reflect current market conditions and have subsequently gone out of business due to a lack of profit. This is not sustainable for the industry and is detrimental to the steel fabrication industry in Western Australia.

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