The different types of industrial coatings

Try using house paint in a commercial application—a playground or parking garage, for example—and you’ll quickly find out why it’s a bad idea. Your average house paint just isn’t built for the wear and tear of commercial structures. That’s where industrial coatings come in.

Don’t let the name fool you. Industrial coatings aren’t just used in heavy industry. You see them everywhere around you. From grocery stores to gas refineries, industrial coatings keep their surfaces safe from corrosion and wear and tear.

When you start deciding which coating to use for your own project, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of complicated terms. Polysiloxane? Zinc-rich? Alkyd? What are the different types of industrial coatings?

A taxonomy of industrial coatings

Every industrial coating has its own strengths and weaknesses; there’s no “one size fits all” solution for everything. Here are the options you have to choose from:


The old standby. Epoxies come in two parts: the base and the curing agent. They’re very flexible in their formulation, which makes them useful in a wide variety of applications. These coatings see use on their own, but they’re also commonly used as top, intermediate, or primer coats with other industrial coatings. They hold up very well to weathering and abrasion, but they’re not great in sunlight.


Another classic performer, polyurethane-based coatings have different applications depending on the formulation. Aliphatic coatings are best suited to outdoor applications—they hold their color well and aren’t easily affected by UV light. Aromatic coatings are better for interior or underwater applications. Both create a smooth, high-gloss surface that stands up to abrasion.


Alkyd coatings are resistant to many different environments; they are among the most versatile coatings. They don’t have the same resistance to abrasion that others do, so they’re best used in low-traffic areas or combined with something else as a topcoat.


Zinc-rich coatings are unique—they’re made of a binder (often polyurethane or epoxy) and zinc dust. The zinc creates a galvanic barrier, protecting metal surfaces with a chemical reaction and not just a physical barrier.


Acrylics go on fast and are often used for primers, but they’re also used because they hold their color extremely well. They’re a great way to prep a surface and lay down a quick corrosion barrier for something more robust over the top.


Polysiloxanes don’t offer much flexibility or corrosion resistance, but they excel at abrasion and weather resistance and keep their color well. They’re often combined with epoxy to create a very strong barrier. The U.S. Navy uses epoxy polysiloxane coatings for their surface ships.

There’s no singular right answer for your commercial coating needs. Get a professional to help you choose. Reach out to JK Industries, and let us give you a hand.