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Extending the life of Nuts and Bolts Infrastructure with Anti-Corrosive Coatings

Red iron beams bolted on. Angular connection of several iron beams in one place close up. Crossing the road, hinged bridge.

What is the importance of ‘Nuts and Bolts’ regarding corrosion control in the world of infrastructure? 

Nuts and bolts are some of the smallest components of the structures they help support yet they are the critical parts to join, hold, and secure structures together. 

This year, as I attend SSPC National Conference, nuts and bolts were an important topic as they are every year. Why? When nuts and bolts are compromised due to excessive corrosion, things fall apart – literally. DECO has applied anti-corrosive coatings to thousands upon thousands of nuts and bolts.

Why are they such a problem?

Nuts and bolts have sharp edges and crevices that make it a challenge to apply a uniform coat of paint.  When paint dries, it pulls away from sharp edges and crevices leaving a thinner layer of protection where it is needed the most – on their sharp edges and crevices. 

At DECO Coatings we do specific training on how to paint nuts and bolts the correct way. As easy as it sounds, though, it is not so easy. Accessibility can be a challenge, as it pertains to inside corners and underside structures and areas being difficult to access for detail work. Highly trained employees check the proper industrial coating over the entire nut and bolt surface (while paying attention to sharp edges and crevices) and meet production goals. We make sure our team gets the highest certifications.

Then there’s the challenge of ergonomics in wearing all the safety gear (hard hat with light attachments, harnesses, safety glasses and tool anchoring devices). Wearing so much safety gear can cause extra difficulty when trying to access hard-to-reach areas. Picture this: You are wearing a hard hat with awkward light attachments, a safety harness that wraps around each limb, safety glasses that steam up when you start to get hot, and safety clips to secure tools in your belt while standing on a lift platform that sways. You are in a secured platform surrounded by railings, tied off, so you’re not going to fall, but it presents the challenge of looking closely at something. Another challenge is that of lighting. These high up areas are not well lit, so helmet lights must be used for clearer visual. Applicators are looking up and in and around in a space that has poor lighting, and are often on very high lifts, and the accessibility can be challenging.

construction worker at construction site using lifting boom machinery

It can be painstakingly slow when high aerial lifts and booms are required for nut and bolt access. Since nuts and bolts are spaced apart over an entire structure, applying anti-corrosive coatings to nuts and bolts becomes a large part of the job. To protect the integrity of nuts and bolts it is imperative to have a properly applied protective coating to each individual one, otherwise you will have what we call “coating failure.” And it is not easy to go back and fix parts of coating failure, because those small parts with coating failure may have a much larger affect than expected. 

Why do we need special tools for coating nuts and bolts?

Basic tools used for industrial painting of nuts and bolts are typically standard style brushes and 4”rollers. This obviously will not suffice for all detailed painting needs. Specially designed bolt brushes may be selected, depending on the nut/bolt size, nut/bolt shape, area access and type of protective coating needed. When it comes to coating nuts and bolts, it is all about accessibility, coverage, and detailed attention!

Joint of steel structure with bolt and nut at construction site

What should you take away from this blog?

If you are needed to get a quote from a professional coatings company on your job, be sure and ask how they handle nuts and bolts and hard to reach areas. Ask them their safety protocols and certifications. Ask them what specialized brushes and tools they use to coat the hard-to-reach details and areas. And most of all, I would suggest calling me. Having been in business since 1992, I have more experience that many of my competitors and maintain the highest standards of safety and certifications. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

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