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Steel Construction

Journal of the Australian Steel Institute

Volume 45 Number 1 December 2011

Specifying corrosion protection on steel

ISSN 0049-2205 PRINT POST APPROVED PP255003/01614


A fundamental consideration impacting on cost and long term sustainable outcomes is the assessment of the working environment and evaluation of the necessary protective systems to ensure that a steel structure will meet its lifecycle requirements for functionality and aesthetics. The following two papers by Dr Rob Francis provide a holistic view into corrosion protection issues to be considered by structural engineers and specifiers using steel. The first paper provides background on the development and use of Australian atmospheric corrosivity standard AS 4312, an important reference which drives the selection of appropriate corrosion protection. The new standard documents a range of zones throughout Australia and assigns each a corrosivity level, helping to standardize corrosion protection materials and simplify selection without the cost penalties of over-protection. This paper is based on one presented at the Australasian Corrosion Association Conference held in November 2007. The second paper looks at defining coating specifications to meet the project requirements, which include the corrosivity environment in which the project is located. The paper provides a balanced analysis of the major types of coating systems available and their range of applicability and is therefore an important reference in a subject area that is often confusing, particularly to younger engineers. Dr Rob Francis is a corrosion and coating specialist with Aurecon's Materials Technology Group in Melbourne. He has over 20 years of industrial and research experience in general corrosion and protective coatings and is Chairman of the Standards Australia committee which prepared AS/NZS 2312 on protection of structural steel by coatings. Dr. Peter Key National Technical Development Manager, Australian Steel Institute AUSTRALIAN STEEL INSTITUTE
The Australian Steel Institute (ASI) seeks to achieve industry and professional development through regular technical seminars, publishing technical materials and making these available through its bookshop and online, and providing information through its web site It operates for its members the largest steel technical library in the Southern Hemisphere and provides lectures at colleges and universities as well as hosting a range of committees providing direction and assistance to ASI outputs. Steel Construction is published by the ASI, Australias premier technical marketing organisation representing companies and individuals involved in steel manufacture, distribution, fabrication, design, detailing and construction. Its mission is to promote the efficient and economical use of steel. Part of this work is to conduct technical seminars, educational lectures and publish and market technical design aids. Its services are available free of charge to financial corporate members. For details regarding ASI services, readers may contact the Institutes offices or visit the ASI website . Disclaimer: Every effort has been made and all reasonable care taken to ensure the accuracy of the material contained in this publication. However, to the extent permitted by law, the Authors, Editors and Publishers of this publication: (a) will not be held liable or responsible in any way; and (b) expressly disclaim any liability or responsibility for any loss or damage, costs or expenses incurred in connection with this Publication by any person, whether that person is the purchaser of this Publication or not. Without limitation, this includes loss, damage, costs and expenses incurred if any person wholly or partially relies on any part of this Publication, and loss, damage, costs and expenses incurred as a result of the negligence of the Authors, Editors or Publishers. Warning: This Publication should not be used without the services of a competent professional person with expert knowledge in the relevant field, and under no circumstances should this Publication be relied upon to replace any or all of the knowledge and expertise of such a person. Contributions of original papers or reports on steel design, research and allied technical matters are invited from readers for possible publication. The views expressed in these papers are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ASI. Submissions should be in Microsoft Word including all diagrams and equations in full page format, using Arial font (size 10 point). A clean printout should also be forwarded.

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by R A Francis Aurecon, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia SUMMARY Engineers, designers and specifiers need to be aware of the corrosiveness of the environment in which they are working when selecting materials, coatings, fasteners and other items exposed to the exterior environment. Many standards and literature from manufacturers, such as those for selecting protective coatings, coated sheet metal products and fasteners, contain guidelines to enable the user to determine atmospheric corrosivity. Identification of the correct environment is important to ensure that the user selects adequate corrosion protection, without the cost penalties of over protection. AS 4312 Atmospheric corrosivity zones in Australia has been developed to standardise corrosivity zones which can apply for a range of corrosion protection materials and coatings. This will simplify selection of such products, and make certain that users are using the most accurate and up-to-date data available. This paper provides an overview of the standard, the information it contains and how it can be used. This standard is believed to be the only one of its type in the world, and should enable specifiers and users in many fields to gain an awareness of atmospheric corrosivity and select optimum materials, coatings and other corrosion protection systems.


Knowing the corrosivity of the atmosphere is of critical importance to many in the corrosion control industry, from specialist practitioners such as paint and material specifiers through to a wide range of engineers and others responsible for buildings, structures, machinery, etc. that will be exposed to a specific environment. For example, coating specifiers will normally specify a more complex, thicker coating system in a severe industrial or marine environment than in a mild interior environment. Repair and maintenance requirements in an industrial plant are usually more urgent and more complicated in a severe environment than in a mild environment. There are a number of grades of alloys such as stainless steel where selection of the optimum grade often depends on the exposure environment. Clearly an understanding of the factors that influence aggressiveness of the environment to coatings and materials is of great benefit to many within and outside the corrosion protection industry. While such information may be available in the scientific literature or manufacturers literature, placing it in a standard gives it much greater credibility and easy availability. This paper looks at the development of a standard for determining corrosivity zones in Australia, a brief overview of the zones, how the standard is used and how it relates to corrosivity discussions in other Australian standards.


Information on atmospheric corrosivity in Australia has been available in AS/NZS 2312 [1] for many years. This standard, designed for selection of protective coatings for steelwork exposed to the atmosphere, requires the specifier to determine the environment as the first stage in coating selection. This standard contains a description of corrosion zones and an appendix to assist the user in determining the correct zone. In recent years, International Standards have been developed to categorise corrosivity, and AS/NZS 2312 has moved to adopt the ISO categories to enable the corrosion protection industry to use internationally recognised corrosion zones. The categories in AS/NZS 2312 have been accepted throughout industry, shown by the fact that the AS/NZS 2312 categories and approach have been adopted by many other Australian standards. The success of the system has led to separation of the corrosivity section from AS/NZS 2312 in the form of a recent standard, AS 43122008 Atmospheric corrosivity zones in Australia . This standard takes the


approach and information from AS/NZS 2312, but expands it significantly to make categorisation easier, and provide much more information to the user. As a separate standard, it also makes it easier to reference when developing standards that require consideration of atmospheric corrosivity. It is not intended that the discussion on corrosivity and categories be removed from the individual standards, but rather that this newer standard provide much more detailed information for the user if and when required. The starting point for determination of corrosion zones is ISO Standard 9223 and related standards. ISO 9223 [2] and ISO 9224 [3] define corrosion zones. There are two main methods to determine their corrosivity. ISO 9225 [4] determines the zone by measuring the time of wetness, chloride concentration and SO 2 levels. ISO 9226 [5] uses corrosion rates of metals to determine the corrosion zone. The relationship between these various standards is shown in Figure 1.

ISO 9223 Classification of atmospheric corrosivity

Method 1: Classification in terms of time of wetness and pollution

Method 2: Classification based on corrosion rate measurement

ISO 9223 Corrosivity categories

ISO 9225 Measurement of pollution

ISO 9224 Guiding values of corrosion rate for each category

ISO 9226 Determination of corrosion rate of standard specimens

Figure 1: Family of ISO Corrosivity standards Whichever method is used to determine corrosivity, atmospheres are divided into one of five categories from C1 to C5 in ISO 9223 in increasing severity of the environment, as shown in Table 1. AS 4312 expands these categories slightly. The C5 zone is split into C5M and C5I (Marine and Industrial) to account for the differing effects of marine and industrial environments on some coatings, even though the corrosion rate of steel may be the same. This provides consistency with AS/NZS 2312 and ISO 12944.2 [6]. In addition, a Tropical (T) category is included to account for the effect of a tropical environment on some paint coatings, which does not relate to corrosion rate of steel. This category is unique to Australian standards. Table 1: Corrosivity categories according to AS 4312 and ISO 9223
AS 4312 Category C1 C2 C3 C4 C5M C5I T ISO 9223 Category C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C5 Corrosivity very low low medium high very high marine very high industrial Steel corrosion rate (m/yr) <1.3 1.325 2550 5080 80200 80200 Typical environment dry indoors arid/urban inland coastal or industrial sea-shore (calm) sea-shore (surf) severe industrial tropical inland


While the ISO standards provide an established and well recognised method of categorising corrosivity, they are not without their weaknesses and limitations. These are discussed in detail by King and Duncan [7]. One of these weaknesses is the poor correlation between corrosivity zone as calculated from time of wetness and pollution levels, and that measured from corrosion rate of exposed metal specimens. Another is that corrosivity zone, as determined by corrosion rates on different metals, does not correlate. For example, a zone may be designated as C3 according to steel corrosion rate, but C2 or C4 according to zinc corrosion rate. AS 4312 overcomes this limitation by only categorising zones according to steel corrosion rates, although it does not specifically forbid use of one of the other methods. However, most of the experimental work done in Australia is with steel so this is unlikely to be a major issue. Furthermore, there is little data on time of wetness, salt deposition and SO2 concentration available in this country to use these levels to determine corrosion zone.


Surveys of corrosivity in Australia have been carried out for many years, and the significant amount of data available is one of the reasons that a standard such as this can be produced for such a large country. It is not the intention of this paper to list or review the work that has been done, as the standard contains a list of readily available technical papers in Appendix C. The surveys carried out by George King, John Moresby and others at CSIRO, especially for Melbourne, Newcastle and the state of South Australia, have been especially beneficial for the development of this standard. This work has been included in the standard, simplified to show only the corrosion categories. Corrosion rates at various sites around the country from numerous other surveys are included in a table in the standard. References are given so that the user can investigate the original work if so desired. The corrosion zones in Australia are described in the standard. It points out that proximity to the coast is the single most important factor. If there is no marine influence, then corrosion rates are generally low, and such areas would normally be in Category C2. Marine influence can fall away within a kilometre of the coast on a sheltered bay when winds and topography are favourable. However, salt deposition and resulting high corrosion rates can be found up to fifty kilometres inland in some areas, such as south eastern South Australia. As a basic rule, any site more than 50 kilometres from the coast will be in the Moderate C2 category. This covers a vast proportion of the Australian land mass, but as most of the population of the country live within 50 kilometres of the sea, they are potentially in one of the more severe categories. The corrosivity category will not only depend on distance from the shoreline, but also whether seas are rough or quiet, as shown in Table 2. Regions right on the coast with rough seas will be in the C5M (very severe marine) category as there is significant salt deposition. This extends inland by a small distance, generally of the order of 0.3 kilometres, but may be as much as 0.5 kilometres when conditions are severe. The next region inland from rough seas is the C4 region, and extends to around one kilometre inland. Regions right on the coast (within 0.1 kilometre of the shoreline) on sheltered bays are in C4. On sheltered bays, the marine influence has disappeared within a kilometre or so of the shoreline. Table 2: Selection of corrosivity category according to distance from shoreline
Distance from shoreline 0 to 0.1 km 0.1 to 0.3/0.5* km 0.3/0.5* to 1.0 km 1.0 to 20/50* km > 20/50* km
Notes: (1) (2)

Rough seas within 20/50* kilometres C5M C5M C4 C3 C2 (T)

No rough seas within 20/50* kilometres C4 C3 C3 C2 (T) C2 (T)

T = Use Tropical category for sites in tropical region of the country. * Use the higher figure when winds are strong and/or topography conducive to salt travel inland.

Table 2 shows the importance of distinguishing between local rough or quiet seas. The difference is one corrosivity category, or two in the case of the region from 0.1 to 0.5 kilometres inland. There are, of course,


some regions where the distinction between rough and quiet seas is not clear. In the gulf regions of South Australia for example, the seas are rough at the southern end, but quieter further north. Adelaide has surf beaches to the south, but the seas to the north of the metropolitan area are relatively benign. The survey carried out for South Australia shows that in such situations it would be best to estimate zones as somewhere between these two extremes. The standard contains maps of major regions of Australia where surveys have been carried out, namely Melbourne, Newcastle and South Australia. In addition, maps are included of the Sydney, Brisbane and Perth metropolitan areas. Delineation of zones in these three regions is based on estimates and behaviour of regions where surveys have been carried out. It should be stressed that the borders are only estimates for these regions, and users should be aware of limitations. These are discussed below. Figure 2 summarises the maps given in the standard, indicating the major zones. No attempt has been made to determine the extent of the very severe marine zone on these maps, which cannot be resolved on this scale.

Figure 2: Corrosivity zones in some Australian centres according to AS 4312


The corrosivity surveys used to delineate corrosivity zones determine the effect of the macro-environment at a given site, that is, the environment generated by normal weather patterns. The important factors influencing macro-environmental corrosivity are identified as time of wetness and salt deposition. These are discussed in detail in the standard, and the research work listed in Appendix C of the standard. However, the standard notes that micro-environmental or micro-climatic factors at a site, and design features of the structure under consideration, can interact to convert a mildly corrosive site into a more severe one. The important factors are listed in Table 3, along with their effect on corrosivity. It should be noted that SO 2 pollution (acid rain) is considered as a micro-environmental factor in Australia, unlike many other parts of

the world where it is considered a macro-environmental factor. Australia has been fortunate that its fossil fuels have historically been low in sulphur, and furthermore that the influence of such pollutants has dropped over the past 30 or so years [8]. The table shows that micro-environmental factors will generally increase corrosivity. However, regions sheltered from rain washing generally show higher corrosion rates, but in regions with little atmospheric contamination (Category C2), exposure to rain or washing can increase corrosion rates. The major micro-environmental factors all increase corrosivity, and the standard recommends moving up to at least the next corrosivity category if any of these influence the structure. As most engineering structures will have flat ponding surfaces, if not influenced by the other factors, moving up to the next category will be the usual procedure.


Section 2 of the standard contains a brief summary of the atmospheric corrosion properties of metals other than steel, including stainless steel, copper, zinc and aluminium. It refers to the relevant Australian standards for details. The standard notes that these metals have much lower corrosion rates than steel, and that generally their corrosion rate will increase as the environment becomes more severe. Unlike ISO 9223, the standard does not accept a numerical relationship between steel corrosion rates and corrosion rate of zinc, copper and aluminium. Corrosivity of the environment is important in selecting such alloys for atmospheric use. More highly alloyed stainless steels, for example, are required as the environment becomes more severe, especially with regard to chloride environments. The standard does not cover the useful Pitting Resistance Equivalent (PRE) which can be used to select stainless steels. This allows comparison between different grades with respect to pitting and crevice corrosion, the most important forms of corrosion in severe environments. The PRE formula depends on the amount of chromium (Cr), molybdenum (Mo) and nitrogen (N) in the stainless steel. Higher PRE presents better resistance to pitting and crevice corrosion. PRE can be estimated using the following formula: PRE = % Cr + 3.3 x % Mo + 16 x % N Table 3: Micro-environmental factors influencing corrosivity
Feature Micro-environmental Industrial pollutants Chemicals Abrasion and impact Design Regions sheltered from rain or regular washing Prolonged surface wetness Cause SO 2 , other corrosive gases Chemical salts, fertilisers, farming wastes Wind erosion, traffic, livestock Examples Around and within fossil fuel burning industries Industrial activities, farming activities Dusty regions, farms, handling Effect on corrosivity Increase Increase Increase

Build up of salts and Under canopies, bridge pollutants soffits Increased time-of-wetness Ponding areas, shaded regions

Increase in severe environments Decrease in mild environments Increase

Table 4 provides a rough rule-of-thumb giving required PRE, and example stainless steels, for the various corrosivity categories. It must be recognised that this is a very simplified approach, and actual selection requires consideration of factors such as surface finish, presence of welding scale and maintenance regimes. Table 4: Selection of stainless steels based on PRE number
Corrosivity category C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 Corrosivity description Very low Low Medium High Very high PRE <15 1520 2025 2530 >30 Example stainless steels 409, 3CR12 430, 304 444, 316 2304 904L, 2205



There are three methods of determining the corrosivity zone for a given site in Australia. These are: (a) (b) Where surveys have been done, the corrosivity zone can be determined from the steel corrosion rate. If the site has similar climatic and geographic features (including proximity to the sea) to a site where a survey has been carried out, then the zone can be estimated by analogy. If surveys have not been carried out at the site, or at an analogous site, then the corrosivity zone will need to be determined from first principles. Zones using corrosivity surveys



Where surveys have been carried out, it is a relatively easy task to determine corrosivity zone. If, for example, the one year steel corrosion rate is 40 microns per year at the site of interest then, according to Table 1, the corrosivity zone is C3. The standard contains maps of the Melbourne and Newcastle metropolitan areas, and the southern region of South Australia, adapted from the CSIRO surveys. Appendix A of the standard contains a list of 89 locations around the country where surveys have been carried out, giving their corrosion rate, distance from the sea and corrosivity zone. The user must be aware that proximity to the sea is critical as indicated in Table 2, and a given town or suburb near the coast could be in any one of three different corrosivity categories. Even where surveys have been carried out, the user needs to be aware of problems using experimentally determined corrosion rates. There are two main problems with using experimental results. Firstly, considerable variation in results can arise when carrying out surveys at a given site. Some of these variables are described below: When using steel, use of a low copper alloy steel (known as BISRA steel) overcomes the effects of slight variations in chemical composition of the steel on corrosion rate, and this has been used in most surveys in Australia. However, the corrosion rate determined with this material needs to be converted to an equivalent corrosion rate of mild steel. There is no accepted conversion constant, but BISRA steel tends to show a rate of 20 to 40 per cent less than mild steel. Surveys are often carried out over periods of time other than one year. Two year corrosion rates are reckoned to be about 20 per cent less than one year rates, but again there is no accepted figure. For other periods of time, other estimates must be performed. There are many experimental variations which can significantly influence the corrosion rate obtained. These include specimen orientation, height above sea level, surface finish and others. Appendix B of the standard discusses these factors, noting their influence as either major or minor. This appendix refers to the recent work of Melchers and Jeffries [9] which showed a variation of corrosion rate from 300 to 600 microns per year at a severe marine site just by varying some of these factors. LaQue, after investigating factors that influence atmospheric corrosivity, concluded: The factors that influence atmospheric corrosion of test specimens are so many and so diverse that one must conclude that results of tests of this sort can have only a limited quantitative status [10]. Corrosivity figures from such investigations must be considered only as approximate and small differences are not significant. However, the semi-quantitative ISO categories are probably sufficiently accurate to distinguish between significant environmental corrosivity groups, although the borders between them are arbitrary. It should be noted that the standard is not designed for those carrying out such surveys although it has much useful information, such as a list of work carried out in Australia in Appendix C of the standard. The second important factor is that corrosivity at a given site can and will change over time. Perhaps the most important change has been a reduction in the amount of atmospheric pollution over the past fifty years

or so. Polluting plants have closed down or reduced emissions, and any sites where pollution was a major contributor to corrosivity will show reduced rates for more recent surveys. For example, the Newcastle corrosivity map shows islands of high corrosivity around the steelworks and Boolaroo smelter. Both have since closed, and the corrosivity would now be expected to be at a background level. Furthermore, the standard quotes the early work of Egan [11] who carried out surveys at various industrial sites in 1971. Many of these sites would be expected to have changed corrosivity. For example, Egan quotes a steel corrosion rate of 30 microns per year for the Adelaide suburb of Woodville, putting it in the ISO C3 category, while a survey carried out by CSIRO only ten years later [12] showed a corrosivity nearly half this for the same suburb, putting it in the ISO C2 category. Furthermore, climate changes now believed to be taking place will mean changes to time of wetness, winds and other factors which could see changes to corrosivity of a given site. The figures in the standard must not be seen as fixed, but rather a starting point only. 6.2 Zones by analogy to surveys

If an actual survey has not been carried out, the next alternative would be to attempt to find a site or area with similar environmental conditions resulting in a similar corrosivity. For example, it is reasonable to assume that places along the coast of NSW from the Victorian border to the Gold Coast will have similar behaviour to that determined at Newcastle. The prevailing winds are from the south-east and the temperature, rainfall and humidity are similar. The crucial factor would be distance from the coast. The map of Sydney in the standard has been drawn based on the Newcastle experience, noting that the escarpment at the west of the city would be a natural boundary between the C3 and C2 regions where it is relatively close to the coast. Other places along the east coast could be expected to show similar behaviour. Brisbane is rather difficult to predict, as it is more humid, but against this has the sheltering effect of the Stradbroke and Moreton islands offshore minimising salt deposition. The map in the standard is a best estimate based on survey results and estimated behaviour. It is less corrosive than regions from the Gold Coast south, as there is no breaking surf, but more corrosive than the sheltered Melbourne region. Similarly, the map of Perth in the standard is a best estimate from survey results and estimated behaviour. 6.3 Zones from first principles

If a survey has not been done, and there is no existing site analogous to the desired site, the user will need to determine the classification from first principles. The standard provides some information in Section 4. There is a flow chart which should assist, working through the zones in a systematic way, similar to the approach described above. If the site is more than 50 kilometres from the coast, the corrosivity is C2, or Tropical in the northern part of the country. For those areas within 50 kilometres of the coast, the next decision to be made is whether the nearest seas are considered best as rough or quiet. It is then best to work through the categories, looking at the most severe category first, and work down from this until the most reasonable estimate can be made. With the figures obtained from surveys carried out across the continent, it should be possible for the user to come up with a realistic estimate. For critical applications, a conservative approach would be required, using the more severe category if there is any doubt.


Appendix D in the standard is a brief summary of corrosivity information in other Australian standards. AS/NZS 2312 has generally been the major source of corrosivity information in an Australian standard, and the appendix contains a table relating classifications in earlier versions of the standard to later versions, as well as the ISO classification. The main change that has occurred over the years is recognition of the significant variation in corrosivity within a marine environment. In the 1994 version of the standard, for example, there was a mild and a moderate category, both largely covered by current C2. However, there was one marine category which would cover corrosivities given in C3, C4 and C5 of the current standard, that is, a range with steel corrosion rates varying from 25 to 200 microns per year. It is clear that adoption of zones based on corrosion rates has had a major effect on the way that corrosion environments are now recognised.


The Appendix also notes that the classification used in AS/NZS 2312 has generally been adopted by other standards, such as anodising and coated steel products. It also notes that the recent development of standards with corrosion resistance performance requirements, such as for lintels [13] and self tapping screws [14], can be related to environmental corrosivity. It is expected in the future that this new standard will become the central reference for other standards, providing one consistent and up-to-date reference point. One standard with a corrosivity classification not mentioned in the new standard is AS 3600 [15] and related standards concerning concrete. These define various exposure classifications which are intended to relate to required properties of concrete, such as strength and cover to reinforcement. In an aggressive marine environment, for example, a high strength concrete with significant cover to reinforcement is required to minimise risk of chloride diffusion through the concrete causing rusting of the reinforcement and spalling of the concrete. While degradation of concrete does not directly relate to steel corrosivity, the main reason for this classification is to prevent corrosion of reinforcement, which is influenced by the same factors as corrosion of steel in the atmosphere. A summary of the classifications in AS 3600 and related AS 4312 categories is given in Table 5. This shows that the concrete standards consider that there is a need for only two marine environments, whether the structure is less than or more than one kilometre from the coast. It does not distinguish between rough sea and quiet seas, and does not recognise the extremely high corrosivity found within a few hundred metres of rough seas. Ignorance of these facts must mean that many structures in marine environments are either under-designed or over-designed, with possible serious safety, maintenance and economic consequences. It is hoped that the concrete industry will note the content of this new standard and make the required changes. Table 5: Corrosivity category according to distance from shoreline for AS 4312 and AS 3600
Distance from shoreline 0 to 0.1 km 0.1 to 0.3/0.5* km 0.3/0.5* to 1.0 km 1.0 to 20/50* km > 50 km (tropical) > 50 km (industrial) > 50 km (temperate) > 50 km (arid) AS 4312 Rough seas within 20/50* kilometres C5M C5M C4 C3 Tropical C2 (C3, C4, C5 if severe) C2 C2 AS 4312 No rough seas within 20/50* kilometres C4 C3 C3 C2 (T) Tropical C2 (C3, C4, C5 if severe) C2 C2 AS 3600 exposure classification for reinforced concrete B2 B2 B2 B1 B1 B1 A2 A1

Note: * Use the higher figure when winds are strong and/or topography conducive to salt travel inland.


This paper has described the Australian standard on atmospheric corrosivity, AS 4312. It has described the development of the standard, the information contained, how it is used, and how it relates to other Australian standards with discussions on corrosivity. This standard should enable those making decisions on selection of corrosion control strategies for atmospheric exposure to quickly, simply and accurately determine corrosivity.


The author thanks the members of Standards Australia committee MT14/5 for their contributions to the standard.



Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand, AS/NZS 2312:2002, Guide to the protection of structural steel against atmospheric corrosion by the use of protective coatings. International Standards Organization, ISO 9223:1992, Corrosion of metals and alloysCorrosivity of atmospheresClassification. International Standards Organization, ISO 9224:1992, Corrosion of metals and alloysCorrosivity of atmospheresGuiding values for the corrosivity categories. International Standards Organization, ISO 9225:1992, Corrosion of metals and alloysCorrosivity of atmospheresMeasurement of pollution. International Standards Organization, ISO 9226:1992, Corrosion of metals and alloysCorrosivity of atmospheresDetermination of corrosion rate of standard specimens. International Standards Organization, ISO 12944.2:1998, Paints and varnishesCorrosion protection of steel structures by protective paint systemsPart 2: Classification of environments. King, G.A. and Duncan, J.R. 1998, Some apparent limitations in using the ISO atmospheric corrosivity categories, Corrosion & Materials , vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 814 & 2225. Bartlett, D.J. 2001, Industrial pollution and its impact on corrosion and corrosion mitigation practices, Corrosion and Prevention 2001 , Australasian Corrosion Association, Newcastle, paper 044. Jeffrey, R. and Melchers, R.E. 2006, Early observations of corrosion losses for steels at a severe marine atmospheric site, Corrosion and Prevention 2006, Australasian Corrosion Association, Hobart, paper 028. LaQue, F.L. 1964, Precautions in the interpretation of corrosion tests in marine environments, Industrie Chimique Belge, no. 11, pp. 11771185. Egan, F.J. 1971, Effect of environmental factors on the corrosion of steels, Australasian Corrosion Engineering , vol. 15, no. 6, pp. 916. Martin, K.G. and King, G.A. 1981, Corrosivity measurements at some Australian cities, Corrosion Australasia , vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 1015. Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand, AS/NZS 2699.3:2002, Built in components for masonry constructionLintels and shelf angles (durability requirements). Standards Australia, AS 3566.22002, Self drilling screws for the building and construction industriesCorrosion resistance requirements. Standards Australia, AS 36002001, Concrete structures. Standards Australia, AS 43122008, Atmospheric corrosivity zones in Australia.














[15] [16]




by R A Francis Aurecon, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

God said to Noah: make yourself an ark . . . and coat it with pitch inside and out. Genesis 6:14
Noahs ark may be the earliest example of the selection and written specification of a quality coating and there is no doubt that the resultant coating performed the task required of it. Indeed, until relatively recently, we were still seeing coating specifications for structural steel along the lines of wire brush the surface and apply two coats of good quality paint, little advancement over that used by Noah. However, conditions are rather different 6000 years on. We require coatings to withstand environments other than heavy rainfall and wear and tear by animals. We require coatings to last longer than 40 days and 40 nights. Unlike Noah, we have environmental and health and safety regulations to obey and coating contractors and paint company representatives to deal with. Perhaps most importantly, the Almighty generally is not called upon to select coatings and write the specification, so mistakes can be made. A good coating specification is essential if steel structures are to continue to function as designed. This paper describes some of the factors that the specifier must consider when selecting coatings to protect steelwork, and some typical specification clauses. It follows the content of AS/NZS 2312 [1], and that document should be an essential reference for anyone selecting and specifying coatings for steel in our part of the world.


The most important characteristic of a coating system for protecting a steel structure against corrosion would normally be the ability to provide protection to the substrate for as long as possible, that is, maximum durability. However, there are many other factors that must be considered and some of these are described below. (a) Environment

The environment is perhaps the single most important factor affecting durability of a coating system. A coating which lasts a few months in a severe marine environment may last decades in a mild environment. In addition, acidic environments can be corrosive to zinc coating systems which have excellent durability in neutral environments. The important environmental factors influencing corrosion in atmospheric environments were discussed in an earlier paper [2]. Recently, a new standard [3] has provided more details on determining local corrosivity in Australia, including provision of corrosion maps of major centres. This standard uses the ISO corrosivity categories which are becoming widely used around the world for selecting methods of corrosion control for structures and other items exposed to the atmosphere. The corrosion categories are summarised in Table 1.



Table 1: Corrosivity categories according to AS 4312 and AS/NZS 2312

AS 4312 category C1 C2 C3 C4 C5M C5I T AS/NZS 2312 category A B C D E-M E-I F Corrosivity very low low medium high very high marine very high industrial Steel corrosion rate (m/yr) <1.3 1.325 2550 5080 80200 80200 Typical environment dry indoors arid/urban inland coastal or mild industrial sea-shore (calm) sea-shore (surf) severe industrial inland tropical


Colour and gloss

Many of the most corrosion resistant coatings, such as metal spray, galvanizing and inorganic zincs are only available in matt grey. Even when considering coatings applied to minimise the effects of corrosion, there are many situations where colour or gloss or both are required and such coatings are not appropriate. Some reasons for requiring colour, even for nominally protective coatings, include: (c) Colour Colour Colour Colour is often necessary for logos and identification can brighten dark areas and hide ugly areas is required for safety, heat reflection, visibility, etc and gloss may enhance public image, provide visual impact, etc.

Shop or site application

Many structures are fabricated and coated in a shop, taken to site and erected. In such cases, coatings would normally be applied in a shop, with only some touch up required on site. Such an approach will normally provide optimum durability because of the following advantages: Coating is carried out under controlled conditions meaning less contamination from smoke, dust, etc Areas which become inaccessible can be coated Inspection is easier and more thorough There will not be problems working around other trades, so fewer extras Coating should not be affected by bad weather.

Some coatings, such as galvanizing, are only applied in a shop. The main concerns with shop-applied coatings are that the item must be small enough to be able to be transported and there will always be a problem with site touch up. The range of coatings that can be site-applied is less than for those designed for shop application. (d) Surface preparation and coating application methods

Most of the best quality primers must be applied to a blast cleaned surface. If blast cleaning is not permitted for environmental or other reasons, then only a limited range of products is available. Similarly, many modern high performance coatings must be applied by spray. At best, brush or roller can only be used for small areas with such coatings. If spraying is not permitted for environmental or OH&S regulations, concerns with overspray or other reasons, then selection will be from a limited number of coating products. Section 7 of AS/NZS 2312:2002 covers these and other issues in more detail. The specifier must review these before selecting coatings.


Before selecting coatings and looking at some individual clauses in a specification, it is necessary to present an overview of the content of a typical coating specification. The following are sections which would normally be present in a typical protective paint specification. There may be other more general sections, such as a list of contractor submittals, requirements for a kick-off meeting, transport arrangements for shopapplied coatings and warranty and guarantee requirements.



1. Scope. This provides a concise but accurate description of the items that will be coated. It should also contain items that will not be coated, such as flange faces, friction grip surfaces, etc. The section may also contain some general clauses. 2. References. This section will provide a list of standards and other documents referred to in the specification. It is normally produced after the document is completed. 3. Definitions and abbreviations. This section contains important definitions and abbreviations that may need clarifying or defining for those outside the coatings industry. 4. Surface preparation. This provides detailed requirements regarding surface preparation requirements for the selected coating system. 5. Coating materials. This lists the coatings used in the selected coating system. 6. Coating application. This provides details of how the coatings should be applied. 7. Inspection requirements. This lists the tests required for surface preparation and coating application and the required records.


There is an almost infinite number of combinations of primer, intermediate and top coats, along with variations in thickness, pigment types and application properties. Therefore, selecting an optimum coating system is not easy. AS/NZS 2312 has about 70 metallic and paint coating systems for atmospheric exposure, along with 48 additional systems for other environments. A full discussion of all these, let alone the many other systems which may be suggested by suppliers, users or other standards, is clearly not possible. The following sections describe some commonly recommended atmospheric coating systems, and the factors that must be considered if they are selected. There are many other coating systems in addition to those described below. Some covered in AS/NZS 2312 include: Metal or thermal spray zinc or aluminium systems. These are selected for very severe environments where long life is required and the high cost can be justified. Very thick coatings, such as ultra high build epoxy, polyester or vinyl ester. These are generally used for very severe environments such as splash zones or severe chemical exposure. They would not normally be specified for atmospheric environments. Continuously galvanized or electro-galvanized products that have significantly thinner zinc coatings than that achieved with hot dip galvanizing, and proportionally lower durability. They would normally only be used for mild environments. Chlorinated rubber coatings have good durability and are easy to maintain, but their high solvent content means they have very limited availability.

The durability of the systems as given in [1] is provided in the discussion. This is the life to first major maintenance, noting that normally some minor touch up will be required before this time. Rather than discussing durability in all environments as given in [1], the life to first maintenance is given only for the C4: High corrosivity (AS/NZS 2312 Category D) environment. This environment is found from approximately 0.1 to 1 kilometre inland from a surf beach, such as most sites along the east coast of Australia from the Victorian border to Fraser Island. This includes major centres such as Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle and the Gold Coast. Such corrosivity is also found on sheltered bays, such as Melbourne or Brisbane right on the coast. Sites further inland will have proportionally greater durability and sites more corrosive will have reduced durability compared to the figures given.


Zinc metal is perhaps the most important weapon in the fight against corrosion. It corrodes at a much lower rate than steel, often one-twentieth or less, so an intact coating of reasonable thickness will provide good


durability to steelwork except in the most aggressive environments. More importantly, if the coating is damaged exposing steel, the zinc will corrode in preference to the steel, protecting it by cathodic protection. As a result, zinc coatings last a long time and when they do break down, they do not blister or undercut, reducing the need for maintenance. The single most important coating for protecting steel against corrosion is probably hot dip galvanizing (HDG). This process, coating the steel by dipping in a bath of molten zinc after thorough cleaning, has been successfully protecting steel for over 100 years. It has many advantages over paint coatings. It can provide complete protection to complex shapes, it has excellent adhesion and is highly abrasion resistant. Unlike most paints, edges have good thick coating coverage and no cure time is required. It is process rather than operator controlled, and inspection and quality assurance requirements are normally much simpler. However, it is only a factory-applied process and there is a limit to the size of an item which can be galvanized. The heat of the molten zinc can cause distortion of complex shapes, and vent and drain holes may be required. Along with other zinc coatings, they are only available in grey colour and are not suitable in acidic environments. The rough finish is unlikely to be acceptable in architectural applications, and touch up and repair will always be visible and usually of reduced durability. A big advantage to the specifier with HDG is the ease of specification. A comprehensive Australian standard [4] is available and a simple sentence on a drawing along the lines of Hot dip galvanize the item to AS/NZS 4680 is often sufficient. This standard covers surface preparation, galvanizing and inspection, and these do not have to be separately specified. However, note that the quality of the finish permitted in AS/NZS 4680 is pretty ordinary (for example, bare spots up to 40 square centimetres area are permitted) and architectural finishes will require details of the required finish. The durability of HDG in various corrosivity zones is given in Table 5.2 of AS/NZS 2312:2002, summarised for the C4 environment in Table 2. The HDG industry usually designates coating thickness in terms of grams per square metre rather than microns (100 grams per square metre is 14 microns). The galvanizer has little control over zinc thickness. Specifiers cannot request a zinc coating thickness. Thickness depends mainly on steel section thickness (the thicker the section, the longer it takes to heat up resulting in a thicker coating). The other important variable is the silicon content of the steel. A silicon content of around 0.2% gives a bright, but thin coating while silicon contents less than or greater than this give a dull grey, thicker coating. Different batches of the same grade of steel can vary in silicon content giving different appearance and, more importantly, different zinc thicknesses. If a thicker than normal galvanized coating is required, the specifier should communicate requirements to the galvanizer. Longer residence times and abrasive blast cleaning, at additional cost, may be required if the section thickness and silicon content are not adequate. Table 2: Hot dip galvanizing systems
System HDG390 HDG500 HDG600 HDG900 Average coating thickness (m) 55 70 85 125 Article thickness (mm) 1.5 to 3 3 to 6 >6 >6, high Si, etc AS/NZS 2312 C4 durability (years) 5 15 10 25 15 25 25+

AS/NZS 2312 lists a number painted HDG systems, so called duplex systems, showing very good durability. Painting the galvanizing provides colour as well as additional durability. While there have been many successful examples of painted galvanizing performing well, there have also been many examples where the paint has severely disbonded from the galvanizing after only a few years. Surface treatments needed to achieve long-term adhesion appear somewhat arbitrary and painting galvanizing is not worth the risk. Galvanizing alone provides very good durability, but if colour is required paint systems should be specified.




Inorganic zinc silicate (IZS) is one of the best liquid coatings that can be used to protect steelwork. A relatively thin coating of the order of 70 to 100 microns can provide better protection in severe environments than many organic coating systems two or three times as thick. Like galvanizing, it is hard and tough and provides cathodic protection if damaged. Unlike galvanizing, it can be used on items of any size and applied on site as well as in a shop. It is the only paint coating that can be used for friction grip joints. It can only be applied to properly blast cleaned steel and application and curing can be challenging. Although it is often considered as a competitor, IZS should be considered as a complementary coating system to galvanizing [5]. Inorganic zinc is different from other paint coatings in that, despite initially producing a porous film, it continues to harden and cure over time, and it becomes denser and more protective. There are two main types of inorganic zincs, water-borne and solvent-borne. The water-borne is harder and faster drying, but must be applied under dry, windy conditions. The solvent-borne must have a certain minimum humidity to cure, but is a little more forgiving in application. The water-borne is considered to have slightly better durability, but selection should really be on prevailing environmental conditions. Generally, water-borne would be selected for application under dry conditions, the solvent-borne under more humid conditions. AS/NZS 2312 has three IZS systems: IZS1 is a solvent-borne system applied to 75 microns, IZS2 and IZS3 are water-borne. AS 4848.1 [6] covers surface preparation and application of a solvent-borne system to a minimum thickness of 100 microns, slightly higher than IZS1 so with durability probably closer to IZS2. These systems are listed in Table 3, although the durability of the solvent-borne system is rather conservative. As with hot dip galvanizing, application of a single coat of solvent-borne inorganic zinc can be specified by a single sentence such as: Apply a single coat of solvent-borne inorganic zinc according to AS 4848.1 Again, this covers surface preparation and inspection so these do not have to be separately specified. Although the standard requires the product to meet the requirements of AS 3750.15 Type 4 which covers properties such as minimum zinc content, acceptable proprietary products would normally be listed. Some coating suppliers provide cheaper, low zinc products which are acceptable for interior and mild environments, but should be avoided in marine environments. Table 3: Inorganic zinc silicate coating systems
System IZS1 IZS2 IZS3 AS 4848.1 Surface preparation Sa2 Sa2 Sa2 Sa2 Coating 75 m solvent-borne IZS 75 m water-borne IZS 125 m water-borne IZS 100 m solvent-borne IZS AS/NZS 2312 C4 durability (years) 5 10 15 25 25+


Where colour is required, the most widely specified systems include a top coat of polyurethane, designated PUR in AS/NZS 2312. Polyurethane provides excellent gloss, colour and durability. Mid coats are based on epoxies which also have excellent durability, adhesion and toughness, but chalk, so normally require topcoating. Primers can be zinc-rich, either epoxy zinc or inorganic zinc, or zinc-free epoxy. There are a number of possible systems, depending on environment, required durability, whether it is maintenance or new work and whether there are restrictions on blasting or spraying. For most new work, PUR4 consisting of 75 microns of zinc-rich primer, 125 microns of epoxy mid coat and 50 microns polyurethane top coat, is a widely-specified system, ideal for most environments. Variations to this system are shown in Figure 1, indicating the sort of decisions that the specifier must make.



PUR2 Sa2 75 Epoxy primer 50 PU

No zinc Lower cost Two coat

PUR2a* Sa2 75 Zinc primer 50 PU

Maintain Cant blast Two coat No zinc

PUR1 St2 125 Epoxy mastic 50 PU

Lower cost, Two coat

PUR7 Sa2 75 Zinc primer 75 HB epoxy 75 HB PU

Cant spray

PUR4 Sa2 75 Zinc primer 125 HB epoxy 50 PU

Maintain Cant blast, Cant spray No zinc

PUR6 St 2 75 Epoxy mastic 75 HB epoxy 75 HB PU

No zinc Higher cost & durability

PUR3 Sa2 75 Epoxy primer 125 HB epoxy 50 PU

PUR5 Sa2 75 Zinc primer 200 HB epoxy 50 PU

Notes: (1) PU = polyurethane
(2) HB = High build (3) Numbers indicate nominal thickness in microns (4) * PUR2a is not listed in AS/NZS 2312

Figure 1: Relationship between polyurethane topcoat systems in AS/NZS 2312 Looking at the stages in the various systems: Surface preparation and priming: For most new work, the surface would be blast cleaned to AS 1627.4 [7] Class Sa2 with a zinc-rich primer. Either inorganic zinc or epoxy zinc could be specified, but recent findings indicate that, in a multi-coat system, there is little difference between performance of epoxy zincs and inorganic zincs. As epoxies are easier to apply and top coat, and do not have curing limitations of inorganic zincs, they would normally be recommended. If use of zinc is restricted, such as in some refineries or if the environment is acidic, a zinc-free epoxy primer would be specified, again to 75 microns. Such primers may contain zinc phosphate inhibitive pigment or no corrosion resistant pigments. If blast cleaning cannot be carried out, hand or power tool cleaning to ISO 8501-1 [8] St2 is specified. Epoxy mastic is normally applied to a minimum dry film thickness of 125 microns if applied by spray, 75 microns if brush application is required (primers should not be applied by roller). Epoxy mastic would also be the primer specified for spot repair, even if spot preparation can be carried out by blast cleaning, as it is likely to be compatible with existing weathered coatings. Mid or intermediate coats: A mid coat is normally applied to build up thickness and ensure good coverage. Three coats will always provide better protection than two as there is better coverage of critical areas such as edges and corners. A mid coat of 125 microns of standard epoxy is normally sufficient, although this can be increased to 200 microns for very severe environments. If spraying cannot be used, the mid coat would be specified to 75 microns. A mid coat is not required in less severe environments, for shorter life or to reduce costs.



Top coats: A thin top coat of polyurethane is applied to provide colour and gloss retention as epoxies exposed to atmospheric environments tend to chalk. The top coat is normally specified as 50 microns, but for some colours a second coat is required for opacity. Where spraying is not possible, high build polyurethanes which can be applied up to 75 microns by brush or roller are preferred.

Table 4 lists the polyurethane systems and gives relative durability of each. Generally, for best durability, blasting rather than hand or power tool cleaning should be used and three coat systems are better than two coat systems. Although not indicated by the durability figures, zinc-rich primers provide far better protection to edges and damaged areas and should be specified wherever possible in atmospheric applications. Table 4: Polyurethane topcoat systems
Ref No. Surface preparaation Sa2 Sa2 Sa2 Sa2 First coat Second coat Third coat Total thickness (m) 325 250 250 225 C4 Durability (years) 15 25 10 15 10 15 5 10


75 m zinc primer 75 m zinc primer 75 m epoxy primer 75 m zinc primer

200 m high build epoxy 50 m polyurethane 125 m high build epoxy 50 m polyurethane 125 m high build epoxy 50 m polyurethane 75 m HB epoxy 75 m HB polyurethane

Excellent durability, colour and gloss. Requires blasting and spray application. Very good durability, colour and gloss. Requires blasting and spray application. Non zinc primer for acidic conditions, or restrictions on zinc. Requires blasting and spray application. Similar to PUR4 but for brush/ roller application. For new work or where full removal of existing coating is required. PUR6 St2 75 m spot epoxy mastic 75 m zinc primer 75 m epoxy primer 75 m HB epoxy 75 m HB polyurethane 225 25

For repair of above systems. Brush or roller application. Mid coat could be epoxy mastic. PUR2a* Sa2 PUR2 PUR1 Sa2 St2 50 m polyurethane 50 m polyurethane 125 125 175 5 10 25 Lower durability version of PUR4. *Not listed in AS/NZS 2312 Lower durability version of PUR3. 125 m epoxy mastic 50 m polyurethane For repair of above systems, no blasting but spraying allowed.


Polyurethane top coat systems are widely specified and used, and have shown excellent performance over many years. One problem with polyurethane is that, during application, free isocyanate in the curing agent is a hazardous material, and painters must be careful to minimise exposure. There is no free isocyanate in cured product and such coatings have no known hazard once the coating is cured. The industry is well aware of the OH&S issues and with proper ventilation and the correct use of personal protective equipment, such coatings can be safely applied. However, health concerns have led to a desire for safer coatings. Catalysed or two-pack acrylics were introduced in the 1980s as an alternative isocyanate-free coating and became popular in Australia. However, their long term performance has been disappointing, showing reduced durability and greater chalking than the polyurethane equivalents. Furthermore, they are difficult to apply with problems such as very fast drying (although slow curing) and issues with intercoat adhesion. Most of the polyurethane systems described above have catalysed acrylic equivalents in AS/NZS 2312 (the ACC systems) but there is little reason to consider them. The latest top coat technology is the polysiloxane coating, which appears to have even better durability and gloss retention than polyurethanes. However, as a new coating, they do not have the long-term experience of the polyurethanes and are more expensive. AS/NZS 2312 only lists one polysiloxane system, noting its reduced durability because of limited practical experience. It is a two coat system with a polysiloxane top coat of 125 microns over 75 microns of zinc rich primer. However, coating suppliers now recommend that this product simply replace polyurethane as a 50 or 75 micron coating in a system such as PUR4 or PUR5.


Accelerated testing suggests such systems should give better durability and gloss retention than the polyurethane equivalents. AS/NZS 2312 also lists single pack alkyd (ALK) and water-borne acrylic latex (ACL) systems. These are easy to apply, relatively cheap and come in a wide range of colours. However, their durability is considerably reduced compared with the above systems, and they are rarely specified for structural steelwork except in mild environments. A single coat of alkyd primer (ALK1) may be all that is required for internal steel beams which are never exposed to the weather. One system which does have good durability is a single coat of acrylic latex over 75 microns of water-based inorganic zinc silicate over a blast cleaned surface (ACL2). ACL2 does require 2 coats, but one is usually sufficient unless colour has poor opacity. Note this system has lower durability than 75 microns of water-based inorganic zinc by itself (IZS2). The top coat is purely for decorative purposes and actually inhibits the long term protection that can be achieved by uncoated inorganic zincs. This is a water-based system so can meet the low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) requirements of Green Star buildings without compromising durability. However, it can be difficult to apply and requires low humidity and windy conditions for proper curing. Although epoxies chalk and discolour with exposure to UV, they can be used without a top coat, or indeed as a top coat where colour and gloss retention are not critical. They have ease of application, ease of maintenance and good economy as well as good durability. High build epoxies applied up to 200 microns or more over 75 microns of zinc-rich (EHB4) or zinc-free primer (EHB3) over blast cleaned steel can provide an economic coating system with good durability. The ultimate epoxy atmospheric systems use micaceous iron oxide (MIO) pigment in the top or intermediate coat or both. This flaky pigment adds to moisture resistance, provides additional protection against UV light and gives a lustrous metallic finish, at additional cost. EHB6 is a two-coat MIO epoxy systems with very good durability. It should be stressed that, even where gloss, appearance and colour retention are not critical requirements, polyurethane systems are often specified as they hold less dirt, are easier to clean and do not lose thickness from chalking. The AS/NZS 2312 systems covered in this section are summarised in Table 5. Table 5: Other Recommended AS/NZS 2312 Colour Paint Systems
Ref No. Surface First coat Second coat Third coat Total preparthickness ation (m) St2 40 m alkyd primer 40 Simple system for use in a non corrosive environment. Sa2 75 m WB IZS primer 40 m acrylic latex 40 m acrylic latex 155 Water based system with reasonable durability. Requires blasting and spraying. Sa2 75 m epoxy primer or 200 m high build epoxy 275 zinc primer High durability, two coat system where appearance not critical. Requires blasting and spraying. Sa2 75 m zinc primer 125 m epoxy MIO 125 m epoxy MIO 325 Very high durability system where a MIO finish is acceptable. Requires blasting and spraying. Notes: (1) NR = Not recommended (2) WB IZS = Water-borne inorganic zinc silicate. C4 Durability (years) NR 5 10 10 15


10 25


Selection of the optimum coating system is crucial, but the specification must make the surface preparation requirements clear, especially when blast cleaning is required. A typical specification clause for blast cleaning is along the lines of: The surface shall be blast cleaned with steel grit or garnet to AS 1627 Part 4 Class Sa2 with an angular profile between 40 microns and 75 microns, as measured by replica tape (Method A in AS/NZS 3894 Part 5).



Such a clause covers two main requirements: the visual cleanliness and the surface profile (or anchor pattern). Issues of concern to the specifier include: Blast cleaning for atmospheric work is normally specified to Class Sa2, sometimes called near white. This is almost completely clean but a few stains of adherent contamination are allowed. These do not interfere with coating adhesion or durability. A completely clean surface (Class Sa3 or white metal) is normally only required for critical applications such as tank or pipeline linings, underground or underwater structures or similar environments. A lesser standard of cleaning, Class Sa2 leaves quite a bit of contamination and may be suitable for mild environments and less exacting coatings. The manufacturers data sheet will give cleanliness requirements, but Class Sa2 should be specified, even if Sa2 is permitted. However, never specify a lesser standard than permitted by the manufacturer. ISO 8501-1 also contains descriptions of the classes of blast and is sometimes used in specifications. The clause limits abrasives to steel grit or garnet. Steel grit is only used in shops where it is cleaned and recycled. Garnet can be used in the field as well as in shops. There are a number of other abrasives available, but some, such as some slag, have environmental and OH&S issues as they may contain heavy metals. Sand as an abrasive was banned in Australia many years ago as it can cause silicosis, but is still used in many other countries. Garnet and steel grit are both effective, low dust abrasives and will provide a clean, rough surface with minimal environmental impact. Surface profile is a measure of the height of the peaks to the valleys of the blasted surface. A profile range, very roughly related to coating thickness is required for most heavy duty coatings. The profile must be jagged or angular for optimum adhesion, and rounded profile produced by shot is not normally acceptable. If not given in the data sheet, Table 6 shows typical profiles for atmospheric coating systems. There are a number of methods for measuring profile, but replica tape is most accurate and the only method that provides a hard copy for QA purposes. Profile is not related to cleanliness, but is not specified for lesser cleanliness grades such as hand or power tool cleaned surfaces. Table 6: Typical profile requirements for different primer coating types
Primer coating type Epoxy (zinc) primer Inorganic Zinc High Build Epoxy Nominal DFT (microns) 75 to 100 75 to 125 150 to 250 Recommended profile (microns) 30 50 30 50 50 75

Limits on non visible contamination, such as salts, are sometimes specified. However, this is normally only required for maintenance work in severe environments where salt contamination has been a problem. It is not normally required for new work. There are conflicts in the industry over acceptable levels, methods of test and the effect of subsequent coatings. Section 4.2.6 of [1] provides a summary of some of the issues. Clauses on removal of oil, grease and related contamination, removal of fabrication defects, removal of dust after blasting and the time limit between blasting and priming will also require specification.


The best coating system is wasted if it is not properly applied. Most of the high durability coating systems described above must be carefully applied by skilled applicators to properly prepared surfaces. In some ways, surface preparation and application are more critical than the coatings used. A full discussion of items requiring specification is outside the scope of this paper, but three important aspects will be reviewed. Storage, handling, mixing, thinning and application of all materials shall be in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations. All coatings shall be used prior to expiration of shelf life, and catalysed coatings shall be used prior to expiration of pot life.


A clause such as this means that you do not have to specify all these requirements. The manufacturers technical data sheet (TDS) then becomes part of the specification. You may wish to override some TDS requirements, for example you may require that the paint is sprayed for good finish, whereas the data sheet may allow any method of application. Data sheets rarely specify the requirement for stripe coats on edges, welds and other critical regions. They may not include all temperature and humidity restrictions that are desirable. However, a clause such as this is normally a mandatory part of any coating specification. Preference shall be given to contractors who are registered with the Painting Contractors Certification Program (PCCP). Good quality coating contractors are essential for any coating work, but making sure such contractors are selected is not easy. Good contractors will have trained workers, well-maintained equipment, good QA processes and satisfied customers, among many other qualities. Checking on these is not easy. The Painting Contractor Certification Program (PCCP) [9] is a scheme that accredits contractors who can demonstrate that they can meet certain minimum performance requirements. There are five classes of certification. Classes 1 to 4 cover application of coatings of increasing complexity in a shop or on site. Class 5 covers removal of hazardous material such as lead paint, and such certification is normally mandatory for such work. No surface preparation or coating application shall take place if the relative humidity is greater than 85%, the surface temperature less than three degrees above the dew point or under other unfavourable weather conditions, unless the work is well protected from such conditions. In addition, the coating shall not be applied if the ambient temperature is below 10 C or surface temperature above 45 C. Temperature, humidity and dew point must be monitored and controlled during surface preparation and coating application. A freshly blasted surface may rust if exposed to high humidity or dew point conditions. A freshly painted surface will more often than not be damaged by the same conditions. In addition, most paints will dry too slowly or too quickly if applied at temperatures which are too low or too high. Restrictions such as these would normally be included in most specifications. The manufacturers data sheet should give this information and Table 8.1 in [1] provides useful information.



Structural steel will usually require a protective coating system if it is to provide years of good service. This paper has provided: Some of the factors that must be considered when selecting a protective coating system Some recommended coating systems from AS/NZS 2312 Some typical clauses from a protective coating specification.

Following such advice should enable steel structures to remain corrosion-free for many years.


Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand, AS/NZS 2312:2002, Guide to the protection of structural steel against atmospheric corrosion by the use of protective coatings. Francis, R.A. 1996, An update on the corrosion process and protection of structural steelwork, Steel Construction, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 2-11. Standards Australia, AS 43122008, Atmospheric corrosivity zones in Australia. Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand, AS/NZS 4680:2006, Hot-dip galvanized (zinc) coatings on fabricated ferrous articles. Francis, R.A. 1998, Inorganic zinc or galvanizing: Choosing the ideal corrosion protection for structural steel, Steel Construction , vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 2-10.


[3] [4]





Standards Australia, AS 4848.12006, Application specifications for coating systems, Part 1: Single coat inorganic (ethyl) zinc silicateSolvent-borne. Standards Australia, AS 1627.42005, Metal finishingPreparation and pretreatment of surfaces Abrasive blast cleaning of steel. International Standards Organization, ISO 8501-1:2007, Preparation of steel substrates before application of paints and related productsVisual assessment of surface cleanlinessPart 1: Rust grades and preparation grades of uncoated steel substrates and of steel substrates after overall removal of previous coatings.







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D.M.E. Kermac Welding & Engineering Cemetery Street Goulburn NSW 2580 02 9725 5720 Davebilt Industries 116 Showground Road North Gosford NSW 2250 Designed Building Systems 144 Sackville Street Fair eld NSW 2165 Edcon Steel Pty Ltd Unit 3A, 9-13 Winbourne Road Brookvale NSW 2100 Ficogi Engineering Pty Ltd 33 Liverpool Street Ingleburn NSW 2565 Flame-Cut Pty Ltd 68 Elizabeth Street Wetherill Park NSW 2164 Fyshwick Metalwork 9 Lorn Road Queanbeyan NSW 2620 H F Hand Constructors Pty Ltd 26-32 Akubra Place South Kempsey NSW 2440 Halley and Mellowes 10 Hereford Street Berkeley Vale NSW 2261 Hutchins Bros 25-27 Driscoll Road Narrandera NSW 2700 ILB Steel Buildings 24-28 Lords Place Orange NSW 2800 Industrial Building Systems 9 Old Punt Road Tomago NSW 2322 Mecha Design & Fabrication PO Box 477 Wyong NSW 2259 Morson Engineering 4 Lucca Road Wyong NSW 2259 National Engineering Pty Ltd 288 Boorowa Street Young NSW 2594

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AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY Baxter Engineering Pty Ltd 177 Gladstone Street Fyshwick ACT 2609 AWI Steel Pty Ltd 36 Day Street North Silverwater NSW 2128 Aardvark Steel Constructions 16A Jumal Place Smitheld NSW 2164 Algon Steel 7 Pippita Close Bereseld NSW 2322 Align H Lot 102 Lackey Road Moss Vale NSW 2577 Allthread Industries 15 Bellona Avenue Regents Park NSW 2143 Amarcon Group 23 Arizona Road Charmhaven NSW 2263 Armidale Romac Engineering 288 -290 Mann Street Armidale NSW 2350 Beltor Engineering Pty Ltd The Broadway Killingworth NSW 2285 Bosmac Pty Ltd 64-68 Station Street Parkes NSW 2870

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Weldcraft Engineering (ACT) Pty Ltd 79 Thuralilly Street Queanbeyan NSW 2620 02 6297 1453 WGE Pty Ltd 29 Glastonbury Ave Unanderra NSW 2526 M & J Welding and Engineering 1708 Mckinnon Road Berrimah NT 801 QUEENSLAND AG Rigging & Steel 207-217 McDougall Street Toowoomba QLD 4350 Alltype Welding 55 Christensen Road Stapylton QLD 4207 Austin Engineering 173 Cobalt Street Carole Park QLD 4300 Austweld Engineering 77 Coleyville Road Mutdapilly QLD 4307

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C & V Engineering Services Pty Ltd 23 Church Avenue Mascot NSW 2020 02 9667 3933 Charles Heath Industries 18 Britton Street Smitheld NSW 2164

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Beenleigh Steel Fabrications Pty Ltd 41 Magnesium Drive Crestmead QLD 4132 07 3803 6033 Belconnen Steel Pty Ltd 11 Belconnen Crescent Brendale QLD 4500 Bettabuilt Fabrication 685 Kingsthorpe-Haden Road Kingsthorpe QLD 4400 Brown Steel 157 OMara Road Charlton QLD 4350 Cairns Steel Fabricators 6 Walters Street Portsmith QLD 4870

Sun Engineering 113 Cobalt Street Carole Park QLD 4300 Thomas Steel Fabrication 19 Hartley Street Garbutt QLD 4812 Watkins Steel 106 Depot Street Banyo QLD 4014 W D T Engineers 124 Ingram Road Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 SOUTH AUSTRALIA Advanced Steel Fabrications 61-63 Kapara Road Gillman SA 5013 Ahrens Group William Street Sheaoak Log SA 5371 BGI Building Group 21-23 Tanunda Road Nuriootpa SA 5355 Bowhill Engineering Lot 100, Weber Road Bowhill SA 5238 Gadaleta Steel Fabrication 12 Wattle Street Port Pine SA 5540 Manuele Engineers 16 Drury Terrace Clovelly Park SA 5042 RC & ML Johnson 671 Magill Road Magill SA 5072 S A Structural 9-11 Playford Cresent Salisbury North SA 5108 S J Cheesman 21 George Street Port Pirie SA 5540 Samaras Structural Engineers 96-106 Grand Trunkway Gillman SA 5013 Steriline Racing 38 Oborn Road Mt Barker SA 5251 Tali Engineering 119 Bedford Street Gillman SA 5013 Williams Metal Fabrication 181 Philip Highway Elizabeth South SA 5112 TASMANIA

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Aus Iron Industries 15-17 Galli Court Dandenong South VIC 3175

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Quality Assured Bolt & Steel Fabrication 44 Andrew Campbell Drive Narangba QLD 4504 07 3888 3888 Rimco Building Systems Pty Ltd 3 Supply Court Arundel QLD 4214

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Haywards Steel Fabrication & Construction 160 Hobart Road Launceston TAS 7249 03 6391 8508 VICTORIA Alfasi Steel Constructions 73-79 Waterview Close Dandenong South VIC 3175

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WESTERN AUSTRALIA Allstruct Engineering 16 Ryelane Street Maddington WA 6109 Alltype Engineering Services 52 Hope Valley Road Naval Base WA 6165 Arch Engineering 9 Rivers Street Bibra Lake WA 6163 AGC Level 2, 251 St Georges Terrace Perth WA 6000 Austline Fabrications 181 Welshpool Road Welshpool WA 6106 Bossong Engineering Pty Ltd 189 Planet Street Welshpool WA 6106 Cays Engineering 17 Thornborough Road Greenelds WA 6210

Complete Steel Projects 31 Cooper Road Jandakot WA 6164 EMICOL First Floor, Ascot Place Belmont WA 6104 Fitti Steel Fabrication 11 Erceg Road Yangebup WA 6965 Fremantle Steel Fabrication Co. Lot 600 Prinsep Road Jandakot WA 6164 GF Engineering 39 Lionel Street Naval Base WA 6165 Highline Limited 8 Colin Jamieson Drive Welshpool WA 6106 Holtfreters Pty Ltd 1 Centro Avenue Subiaco WA 6008 Hvar Steel Services Pty Ltd 51 Jessie Lee Street Henderson WA 6166 Inter-Steel Pty Ltd 9 Ilda Road Canning Vale WA 6155

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Italsteel W.A. 1 Forge Street Welshpool WA 6106 Metro Lintels 2 Kalmia Road Bibra Lake WA 6163 Pacic Industrial Company 42 Hope Valley Road Naval Base WA 6165 Park Engineers Pty Ltd 388 Welshpool Road Welshpool WA 6106 Perna Engineering 32 Cocos Drive Bibra Lake WA 6163 R&R Engineering (WA) Pty Ltd 1021 Abernethy Road Foresteld WA 6058 Scenna Constructions 43 Spencer Street Jandakot WA 6164 United Group Resources PO Box 219 Kwinana WA 6167 Uniweld Structural Co Pty Ltd 10 Malcolm Road Maddington WA 6109

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Civmec Construction and Engineering Pty Ltd 16 Nautical Drive Henderson WA 6166 08 9437 6288

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Level 13, 99 Mount Street, North Sydney, NSW 2060 Phone (02) 9931 6666 Facsimile (02) 9931 6633 Email Website