What a Coating Inspector Does and Why It Is Done

Industrial paint projects are an important part of maintaining the appearance of a firm’s assets. Deteriorating, weathered, industrial chimneys and gas holders do nothing to enhance a business’s reputation or appearance.

However, industrial paint contractors do far more than improve the look of a firm’s assets. The coatings that they apply, provide valuable protection from the elements.

These industrial coatings have many uses including protecting against acid rain, corrosion, UV exposure, and sunlight. So, it is fairly clear what the purpose of industrial paint and coatings are, but why do they need to be inspected, and who does it?

What is a Coating Inspector?

A coating inspector is someone responsible for checking the surfaces of assets, such as a gas holder, and looking for areas that are a problem now, or may cause one in the future.

They will check the surfaces before paint is applied, during the length of the painting project, and after completion.

The NACE institute defines a coating inspector as someone who is responsible for performing and reporting inspections on liquid applications. This can mean non-destructive tests to check the thickness of the coating, looking for cracks or peeling paint, and checking the integrity of the unpainted surface.

They check the quality of the work that has been carried out and look for vulnerabilities that may end up causing corrosion.

What Types of Tools and Products Would They use?

Coating inspectors use a wide variety of tools to carry out their functions. These include the rather mundane mirrors used to see into difficult areas such as behind girders or joints, to a digital psychrometer which is used to measure atmospheric pressure.

There are many brand names associated with coating inspections, and they may use Elcometer, Proinex, or DeFelsko products, in their role.

Typically, a coating inspector will use a range of thermometers to measure the surface temperature, gauges to check for the thickness of a coating, and holiday detectors. The latter is a tool that helps to search for thin areas on a coating, pinholes, and holidays which is a void in the coating that can lead to corrosion.

What Are Their Responsibilities?

Sometimes industrial painting contractors will have their own inspector who will evaluate and report on the work they have carried out. A company that has just used one of these contractors may also choose to either bring in an independent coating inspector, or they may have their own.

Their responsibilities are primarily to check surfaces prior to coatings being applied and once again after. However, their role involves checking that surfaces are protected against the weather and other environmental concerns. They will use testing equipment from suppliers such as MTest to look for signs of corrosion or areas of concern.

This would indicate that one of their major responsibilities is to make sure that structures remain safe and sound. Corrosion can cause structural damage, therefore a coating inspector’s job carries some responsibility.

Why is it Important to Use a Coating Inspector?

If surfaces aren’t inspected before coatings are applied then the paint may not adhere to the surface properly. Problems need to be reported on and then solutions suggested and performed.

Without a coating inspector, any faults in the paintwork would go unmissed, and then problems can arise. If surfaces aren’t ready to be coated, or the paint is misapplied, the following could happen:

  • Bubbling paint
  • Cracks in the coating
  • Peeling paint
  • Voids and pinholes
  • Corrosion

There are certain areas on structures where water is more likely to gather, such as in corners and joints. These are more prone to corrosion and it is important that they are inspected to check coatings are applied properly to maintain protection.

There are some essentials when undertaking industrial inspections and one of them is checking surfaces and coatings. Exposure to the elements can lead to corrosion, which can lead to unsafe structures and expensive repair work. Two of the reasons that coating inspections are important, is that they can save a lot of money in the future, and help maintain a safe environment.


A coating inspector will often work for a business full-time and only inspect those assets that are owned by the employer. Or, they may work for an industrial painting company, or even as an independent inspector.

They are in great demand and require formal training before they can carry out their roles. If you were thinking of becoming a coating inspector, then you would need to receive and pass training, and become certified. NACE is a not-for-profit organization that is recognized in the corrosion industry for certifying inspectors.

As a coating inspector, you could expect to earn between $30 to over $40 an hour according to Salary. While it is a well-paid position, you would also have the knowledge that you were helping to make assets last longer and provide a safe environment for workers and users.

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