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Question posted - January 26 to January 30, 2015:

We need to paint our publicly owned lighthouse. What should I include in the specifications for this bid regarding surface preparation, coating systems, and other considerations?



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Selected Answers

From john lienert of nehalem bay paint on February 5, 2015:
How high is up?  You need a certified coatings specialist.

From Warren Brand of Chicago Coatings Group on January 30, 2015:
The only way to ensure that a job like this, or any job, goes properly (that is, the owner gets 100 pennies on his dollar) is to hire a vendor-neutral, highly competent corrosion/coating professional. A specification for a lighthouse could easily be dozens if not hundreds of pages in length and may specify different coatings, paints and other materials, depending on the condition of the specific substrates in and around the lighthouse. For example, if this is an older facility, there may be lead paint. Most vendors will recommend lead removal - which costs a lot of money - but may not be necessary. This type of question is akin to asking, "I need to build a house; what materials do I need." While all of these comments are helpful - none of them encompass or address the specific conditions of a specific lighthouse. No lighthouse is going to be the same as another, and without first conducting a condition survey (which can be very brief of highly complex, depending on the situation) and then identifying optimal, technical solutions in terms of material selection and surface prep requirements, and then writing a site-specific specification for this lighthouse, you as the owner are simply hoping that the right steps are being taken. Lastly, I would think very carefully about who you chose to work with to solve this problem.

From Stephen Pinney of S.G. Pinney, P.E., Inc. on January 27, 2015:
Old lighthouses, which most of them are, contain a combination of cast iron shielding, stairs, concrete, old wood components such as beams and doors, brick, and probably some carbon steel. They are normally in a marine atmosphere. The goal normally is to restore all of this to the original condition, not to replace anything. My opinion is to ask a contractor with previous experience to give a proposal on how and with what he is going to accomplish the work and have the proposal evaluated by someone who has also been involved in a previous renovation. There is a Lighthouse Society, which probably can provide further information.

From Eric Murrell of SME on January 27, 2015:
There are many questions that must be answered before an optimum specification can be developed. Is this a sea-water or fresh-water location? What materials are you coating? Concrete? Masonry? Metal? Wood? What's the budget? Who will do the work? Professionals or Volunteers? What utilities are available on site?  Electricity? Water? What is the timeline? When will the work be done?

From travis gold of Mid Atlantic Coatings on January 26, 2015:
The answer is going to vary depending on the material. If the lighthouse is steel, I would blast to an SSPC-SP 6 and coat with a zinc rich primer. A 100-percent solids, waterborne rust inhibitive epoxy would serve as an excellent intermediate coat that also provides corrosion protection. Some of the better choices here actually have cement dust in them to serve as the rust inhibitor. Topcoat should be a fluoropolymer. This will provide the best color and gloss retention.


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Tagged categories: Coating types; Specification writing; Surface preparation


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