How Coatings Can Add Protection to Your Structural Steel

Corrosion is one of the few factors in steel structure design that can shorten the life of your structure. Because metal oxidizes when it reacts with oxygen and water, it hastens the onset of rust. 

When facing a similar situation, it’s best to take the necessary steps to encase your steel components, especially in areas prone to moisture, for the best long-term results.

This article will go over the importance of encasing structural steel in a protective coating for long-term strength and versatility.

Metal Coatings

The first line of defense against rust for steel structures is a coating, which comes in the form of paint, to protect the metal against the weather and other environmental factors.

Metal coatings can protect you from:

  • Corrosion
  • Chemical exposure
  • Physical damage
  • Accidents

Sun, rain, snow, and wind can harm unprotected steel structures over time, so it is essential to add a protective coating to the structure to preserve its integrity and curb rust effectively.

A coating can also protect your steel structure from a car crash, fire, or impact. Applying it in the right quantities and portions can help prevent damage to your steel structure and keep it looking great for many years.

Layers of Application for Metal Coatings

Structural steel paint utilizes a mix of different types of pigments, solvents, and binders to provide long-lasting protection. Each layer of paint will produce a unique effect:

  • Primer

Primers provide the first level of protection against corrosion but do not hide the appearance of the steel. They are often used for bare-metal applications, but primers can also provide mild rust protection, depending on the type of primer and the specific coating.

  • Base Coat

Base coats, also known as epoxy or alkyd paints, are thin coats applied over a primer designed to add a layer of protection to the structure. They hide the appearance of bare steel and provide a base for the top coat to adhere to properly.

  • Top Coat

The top coat is the final layer you apply to the steel structure and is the most decorative. They are thin, decorative coats that provide the paint job’s color and shine. Top coats can also come in a clear coat that can hide the appearance of rust.

When it comes to steel structure coatings, the key is to choose a quality coating designed to provide a long-lasting protective coating for your structure.

Difference between Factory and On-Site Coating

Factory Coating

Factory coating is done in a controlled setting. It means that the layers are applied on a large scale, where owners can alter the paint jobs to suit their tastes.

However, factory coating is not always the best option for your structure.

On-Site Coating

On-site coating, also known as field painting, is the application of a coating over a structural steel component that is still in place. While the on-site coating is more expensive than factory coating, it is the only option for adding a coating to a structure currently in place. It can be a viable option for protecting your steel components in the long term.


The importance of coating has long been overlooked. However, with advancements in technology and knowledge, adding a protective layer to your structure is the best way to keep it solid and rust-free for years to come.

Contact us today to find out more about coatings for steel and get a quote for your needs. KGS Steel is a steel service center in Birmingham, AL. As the state’s leading metal supplier, we only offer the best products. If you’re looking for a place to buy steel, give us a call today, and we’ll go over your options!

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Bessemer, AL

3725 Pine Ln,
Bessemer, AL 35022


Mon - Fri7:30 AM–4:30 PM
Sat - Sun: Closed 

Nashville, TN

310 Herron Dr,
Nashville, TN 37210


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