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Troubleshooting 4 Common Coatings Issues

troubleshoot coatings issuesSome people seem like they are just asking for trouble. The way they act, talk and live suggests that they welcome the next disaster. Part of my job is to make sure my customers aren’t asking for trouble when it comes to their industrial coatings.

I have been involved in the industrial coatings industry, in one form or another, for well over 30 years. During this time, I’ve troubleshot a lot of coatings issues. What I’ve discovered is that on average, 99% of the problems and issues people experience are self-imposed.

When you do have trouble—and it will happen if it hasn’t already—here are four scenarios and questions you can ask yourself to see if you have either an issue that is pretty common and able to be corrected, or if you are indeed among the 1% .

No. 1

Trouble: Your coating isn’t drying correctly, it’s staying too shiny or glossy, and it’s not drying down to the correct gloss or sheen.

Question to ask: Has the product been catalyzed and mixed or agitated correctly? If the answer is no …

Fix: Start from the beginning by mixing a fresh batch of finish correctly, catalyzing it correctly and respraying the product.

No. 2

Trouble: Improper color or color appearance.

Question to ask: Have I followed a color standard and the correct application procedure? With color matching, you have to make sure the sample substrate, such as a piece of wood or metal, and the actual substrate are prepared the same way. For example, when staining wood, you need to know exactly how long the stain should stay on the wood, to achieve the desired appearance, before wiping it off. Your color standard should include specific steps for stains, glazes, etc., and each individual step should show visual guidance. We refer to this as a “step block,” indicating what each step should look like before the next step is implemented.

Fix: Refer to the color standard and application procedure to be sure every step was carried out correctly. You will likely be able to pinpoint the part of your process that brought about the color issue.

No. 3

Trouble: Incorrect appearance of final finish, e.g. coating looks foggy, patchy or dull.

Question to ask: Did I apply the coating at the proper wet mil-thickness? Using too little coating is often the cause of this issue, as it prohibits or impedes the correct flow and level.

Fix: Refer to the project’s plans or the application procedure to see what the wet mil-thickness should be. If you aren’t applying enough product, adjust your finishing process accordingly.

No. 4

Trouble: Finished product has an orange peel effect or rough appearance.

Question to ask: Did I reduce or thin the product correctly? Is the temperature correct in my finishing shop or facility? Coatings must be allowed to work correctly, and they are fickle when it comes to temperatures. Cold temperatures increase viscosity in coatings, so they don’t perform like they would in warmer temperatures. As an example, if you spray a set of kitchen cabinets or furniture and leave the shop at the end of the day, to allow them to cure, and let the shop temperature fall to 30-40 degrees, it can affect the overall appearance of the kitchen cabinets or furniture, and in some cases, essentially stop or severely retard the curing process. Normally, we don’t like to see coatings fall below 52 degrees. The ideal temperature is 60 degrees or above.

Fix: Add the correct or recommended amount of reducer or thinner. Adjust your shop temperature and environment so that your coatings can perform correctly.

Most of the troubleshooting process is quite simply looking at all of the variables that you can control. Carefully reviewing the entire process, and through the process of elimination, we typically uncover the variable that is responsible for the problem or issue and take control of it. Knowing this procedure moving forward, will help you get the best performance possible and the most out of your coatings products.

If you have an issue that doesn’t apply to one of these parts of a broken process, please let me know. I’d love to help you troubleshoot it.

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