This paper is an update to “Expected Service Life and Cost Considerations for Maintenance and New Construction Protective Coating Work” co-authored by J. L. Helsel and R. Lanterman for NACE Corrosion 2016.

Designed to assist the coatings engineer or specifier in identifying candidate protective coating systems for specific service environments applicable to a broad array of industries, this paper provides: 1) commonly used generic coating systems; 2) service life for each in specific environments; 3) current material costs; 4) current field and shop painting costs; and 5) guidelines for calculating approximate installed costs of the systems. Guidelines for developing long-term life-cycle costs and number of paintings for the expected life of the structure are included. The basic elements of economic analysis and justification are addressed together with guidance on the preparation of a Present Value Analysis. Examples are provided to aid the reader in the proper use of the information. Updates to the paper include revisions to the coating systems for atmospheric exposure and immersion service, new discussion related to maintenance painting strategies and updated cost data.


Major manufacturers of protective coatings, steel fabricators, painting contractors, galvanizers, and end users, were surveyed to identify surface preparation and coating application costs, coating material costs, typical industrial environments and available generic coatings for use within those environments, and expected coating service lives (practical maintenance time).

The approach to this cost data is meant to be practical. Instead of burdening the coating engineer with complicated cost formulas based on hourly wages, supervision, equipment rates, overhead, profit, and other cost elements, this guide provides total unit costs, which include all of these elements. The costs are intended to reflect current, competitive/commercial prices charged in today’s market, but as indicated below, are provided for comparative purposes only, not for developing or assessing project specific cost estimates.

Surface preparation and application costs are primarily based on major steel fabricators and painting contractors. Material costs are provided by major suppliers who furnished approximate prices at which coatings are being sold on commercial-sized jobs. The current cost data was developed from the collected data along with common industry cost references.

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