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Corrosion: How Are You Protecting Your Equipment?

Grainger Editorial Staff

According to NASA's Corrosion Technology Laboratory, the cost of corrosion in the United States is estimated to be a staggering $276 billion per year. Corrosion can be defined as degradation of a material due to a reaction with its environment. This includes materials such as metals, polymers (plastics, rubber), ceramics (concrete, brick, etc.), or composites.

The cost to apply a protective paint coating to equipment will help prolong its useful life.

Protective coatings are the most commonly used method of corrosion control.

These coatings can be metallic, such as galvanized steel, or they can be applied as a liquid “paint.” The liquid paints may contain corrosion inhibitor chemicals that are added to reduce the corrosivity of the material and protect it from its environment.

The painting technology that exists today can provide some protection for even the most corrosive environments. Facilities can help save money by taking steps to protect their equipment at a fraction of the cost it would take for replacement. Here are some examples of equipment that are subject to corrosion and the cost for replacement as compared to protecting them (excluding labor).


Equipment Subject to Corrosion

Cost to Replace

Cost to Paint







Fences (100 ft.)



Conveyors (6ft. power belt)



Handrails (100 ft.)



Lockers (set of 4)



Dock Doors



Storage cabinets



Pallet Jacks






Lift Tables



As you can see, the cost to apply a protective paint coating to equipment will help prolong its useful life and should be part of a preventive maintenance program.

Here are a few factors you may want to consider before you get started.

Environmental Conditions

Any possible chemical exposure, severe abrasion, or other physical stress on the coating must be identified in order to ensure a choice that will provide the appropriate level of protection. If a piece of equipment only needs to be repainted for a color change and has not been exposed to harsh wear and tear, then a general purpose type of paint could be used. On the other hand, if a piece of equipment is subject to chemical exposure, heavy use, or outdoor elements, then a more durable rust protective coating is needed.

Application Method

Is the equipment in an area where the paint can be applied by spray or will overspray affect the surrounding areas? If the equipment has intricate parts or hard-to-reach areas, then applying the coating by brush may be the best choice. If there is a large surface area to be covered, then an airless spray gun or roller should provide the best efficiency. There are many coating choices available, so you are not limited to one option when it comes to a painting project.

Surface Preparation

Assess the condition of the surface to determine the surface preparation types that are needed prior to coating application. The key to a long-lasting, durable finish is to start with a clean surface. This means it should be free of grease, dirt, debris and loose rust.

Surface preparation ranges from simply wiping the surface down with a cleaner/degreaser, soap and water or sanding, to abrasive blast cleaning where the previous coating is removed. Rusted areas can be touched up with a Rust Converter to instantly transform the rust spot into a paintable surface. The key point to remember is to create a surface that the coating will properly adhere to for many years to come.

Today there are many choices of coatings that provide long-term protection against rust. These include spray paints, alkyd enamel, acrylic, epoxy and urethane coatings. In addition to the above considerations, many facilities have green initiatives that call for the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) commonly found in paints. In such a case, you can choose a line of Green Seal™ certified coatings such as Sierra Performance® paints that allow a facility to deliver rust protective coatings that virtually have no odor, zero VOCs and zero hazardous air pollutants.

These coatings may also allow a facility to maximize LEED credits.

As you can see, there are many options to choose from when it comes to protecting your assets and reducing the cost of corrosion in your facility. A simple coat of paint on your equipment can add years of service life freeing up budgets for other projects.

Information courtesy of Rust-Oleum

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The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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