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Everything to Know About Industrial Exterior Coating Options

Last modified: 2022-07-20 | Approximate reading time 6 mins

Although you may believe that an industrial building requires the same attention as a residential building, this is not the case. In fact, industrial buildings come with their own set of rules, regulations and upkeep.

Regardless if the building is used for manufacturing, storage, distribution or warehousing, a commercial building will require an exterior coating that is specific to its surface. So, how exactly do you choose the right exterior coating for your building?

Well, we’re here to offer a breakdown of all the industrial coating options on the market and their pros and cons for different exterior surfaces. If you’re looking for information on this subject, then you’ve come to the right place and we encourage you to read on.

Industrial exterior coating and painting options (metal, wood, masonry)

industrial building exterior_Everything to know about industrial exterior coating options_Reno Quotes

How to choose your industrial paint: the types of surfaces and products

Before deciding what product or coating to use, it’s important to survey your surface and understand it. First, determine the material of your surface, as this will allow you to figure out which product to work with.

Second, it’s important to see if the surface is bare or if it already has a primer on it. If you find the surface is bare, it’ll also need to be clean, dry and in good condition, before any coating can be applied. In some cases, a primer should be applied before coating or painting. There are many different types of undercoats, including masonry, wood and metal primers.

If you’re working on galvanized metal, alkyd coatings are not recommended and you should instead look for an acrylic primer. If you’re painting on metal, it’s important to note that the metal should be washed and completely dry before you put down a priming coat. Also worth noting is that rusted metal will need to be properly treated before anything can be applied. All signs of rust should be properly removed before something is put on top. 

An industrial wood surface can be difficult to maintain and requires yearly upkeep. For this reason, we’d recommend a penetrating stain. It should be noted that stains do not require a primer. 

Now, let’s look directly at some of the coating options for industrial building exteriors.

The different types of industrial paints and exterior surfacing materials

exterior industrial building_Everything to know about industrial exterior coating options_Reno Quotes

1- Epoxy coatings

Epoxy coatings generally consist of a base and a curing agent, which are applied in 2 separate steps. This type of coating can be used in an interior or in submerged industrial applications. Epoxy is resistant to chemical exposure, abrasion and moisture.

This type of coating can also withstand very high temperatures. Many facilities choose to use epoxy over concrete because it will bond well to various surfaces. It comes equipped with many advantages, these include:

  • epoxy is 3 times stronger than concrete ;
  • it’s cost-effective, waterproof, shock resistant and long-lasting ;
  • epoxy is not slippery and in certain situations can improve operation safety.

2- Polyurethane coatings

Polyurethane coatings are very versatile and can be employed in a wide variety of environments. In most cases, they’re often used as a protective topcoat over custom-made primers for various surfaces.

Polyurethane is excellent for enhancing durability, while also helping a surface to withstand wear and tear. Not only this, but polyurethane is desirable for its appearance, as it can maintain colour while also having an attractive, high-gloss finish.

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Further, polyurethane coatings have excellent durability when it comes to UV rays or environmental disruptors, thus this coating is the perfect choice for exterior applications. They are also available in low VOC formulations, which is a bonus for our environment. However, it should be mentioned that polyurethane coatings with colour in them will tend to fade when used outdoors.

factory exterior_Everything to know about industrial exterior coating options_Reno Quotes

3- Elastomeric coating

The elastomeric coating can be used for walls or the roof and it is approximately 10 times thicker than regular paint.  Elastomeric has the ability to waterproof an entire structure by way of a thick and flexible coating. This type of coating is also UV resistant and has the ability to aid in improving the energy efficiency of a building.

This substance can be tinted in a variety of colours and the colour is less likely to fade than that of polyurethane. For these reasons, elastomeric is a top choice for an exterior finish on commercial properties.

4- Alkyd coatings

Alkyd used to be the exterior coating of choice, as they’re similar to interior oil paint, offering a durable finish. Most alkyd coatings have products like linseed in them in order to assist with flexibility. Although they require longer drying times, alkyd coatings have the ability to penetrate the exterior material’s surface better, offering superior adhesion.

We should mention that working with alkyd has some cons, which include:

  • there are organic resins present in alkyd paint and this can be a breeding ground for mould;
  • this type of coating has a higher VOC content present, making it a bad environmental choice ;
  • the long drying times may prove to be inconvenient ;
  • when this type of paint ages, chalking will occur. This means that chalk-like pigments will be left on the surface over time, as the compound breaks down. This generally happens to exterior surfaces with a lot of sun exposure.

What is the best rust-proofing paint to use in industrial buildings?

If your exterior metal siding tends to rust, it will be very important to apply a rust-proof product. Your best option is to find a product that specifically states that it is "anti-rust" or "anti-corrosive". Of the products we've talked about before, know that epoxy products are recommended. Other types of coatings also have properties that protect surfaces from decomposition, but each product is different, which one is best for you will depend on your budget and the type of underlay you need to deal with.

factory exterior_Everything to know about industrial exterior coating options_Reno Quotes

General benefits of industrial coatings

In case you need more convincing when it comes to selecting an exterior coating for your industrial building, here is a quick overview of some of their benefits.

Better protection: Wear and tear is always an issue in commercial environments. Thus applying a coating helps to prevent water damage, heavy use or chemicals. 

Fireproofing: Depending on what’s happening inside your industrial building, fireproofing may be fairly important. Protecting your building against chemical fires could be essential to its longevity. 

Prevents against corrosion, rot and decay: If you’re working with wood surfaces on or around your industrial building, including decks or loading docks, then rot and decay are common problems. An industrial coating will help to protect all surfaces from unpredictable weather conditions as well as excessive rain or snow. 

Antimicrobial protection: Industrial coatings and paint can offer long-term hygienic protection, including stopping or eliminating the spread of deadly pathogens.

A quick recap of the items discussed

This article gave you a good overview of the specificities of each coating: this recap will help you to find your way through the important points that were targeted: 

What you need to remember about surfaces :

Galvanized metal
  •  Do not apply an alkyd coating
  •  Apply an acrylic primer
Rusted metal
  • Treat the rust properly before any painting work
  • Use a penetrating stain as they do not require a primer


You will find here the main pros and cons of different industrial coatings:

Type of product Characteristics
Epoxy coatings
  • cost-efficient
  • shock resistant and waterproof
  • is not slippery
Polyurethane coatings
  • enhances durability and resistance to wear and tear
  • withstands bad weather
  • options available in low VOC (volatile organic compounds) formulations: good for the environment
  • maintains colour while having a high-gloss finish
Elastomeric coating
  • a good choice to waterproof a structure
  • 10x thicker than regular paint
  • UV resistant 
Alkyd coatings
  • penetrates an exterior surface better, offering superior adhesion
  • flexible
  • durable finish

Some cons to keep in mind:

  • includes organic resins, more susceptible to mold
  • higher VOC content (volatile organic compounds), bad environmental choice
  • long drying times
  • less resistant to sun exposure (chalking)


If you want more information about industrial paint and painting techniques, we'd suggest our article What should you know about industrial painting.

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