Paint/Coating Testing & Failure Analysis

A significant amount of financial loss is incurred every year as a result of premature failure of protective paints and coatings. The cost to repair such failures far outweighs the initial cost of painting due to the extreme cost and liability associated with excessive rigging and downtime to correct the problem.

The majority of paint and coating-related failures can be attributed to following causes:

  • Improper surface preparation – the substrate surface is not adequately prepared for the coating that is to be applied. This may include cleaning, chemical pretreatment or surface profile.
  • Improper coating selection – either the paint or coating selected is not suitable for the intended service environment, or it is not compatible with the substrate surface.
  • Improper application – this can be a problem with either shop-applied or field applied coatings, and occurs when the required specifications or parameters for the application are not met.
  • Improper paint formulation,  drying, curing and over coating times –this problem relates to a lack of conformance to the required specifications or parameters.
  • Lack of protection against water and aqueous systems – this is a particularly serious problem with aqueous systems containing corrosive compounds such as chlorides.
  • Mechanical damage – which results from improper transport, handling of the painted or coated substrate, resulting in a breach in the paint or coating.

Matergenics’s Coatings and Analytical Chemistry Division can resolve coating failures through techniques such as:Fourier transform  infrared spectroscopy(FTIR); scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy; light microscopy; electrochemical impedance spectroscopy(EIS); chromatography; thermal analysis and wet bench testing. Matergenics performs a wide array of standard ASTM, SSPC and NACE test procedures.

Our Paints and Coatings services include:

  • Paint and Coating Testing and Analysis,
  • Field Investigations
  • Technical Audit of Painting Process and Production Facilities
  • Paint Analysis, Chip Analysis and Evaluation
  • Accelerated Testing
  • Physical and Chemical Paint Exposure Tests: ASTM D1308. ASTM D3359, ASTM D4541, ASTM D4060
  • Salt Spray (ASTM B117) Testing, Cyclic Tests (ASTM G 85), QUV (ASTM G53), Humidity (ASTM D2247), Prohesion (ASTM D5894)
  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) Analysis of Paints
  • Visible Spectroscopy, Chromatography
  • Coatings and Cathodic Protection Studies
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy & EDS Analysis of Paints
  • Physical Testing of Paints: Tensile and Flexural Testing ASTM D 638 & ASTM D790
  • Characterization and Cross Section Microscopy of paint samples collected from project site.
  • Failure Analysis Root Cause Determination


Paint/coating evaluation by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy for coating selection in given application


On-site Investigation of FBE Paint blistering due to surface contamination prior to application


surface profile measurement


Our Scanning Electron Microscope Can Determine the Mode of Paint Failure and Elemental Composition of Visible or Invisible Contaminants on Substrate

In paint failure analysis investigations, our NACE/SSPC certified Coating Specialists will keep you informed of results as they become available. Each failure analysis investigation will include a formal report containing the description of the defect, review of the application and exposure conditions, laboratory analysis to check against specifications, on-site and analytical test results, factors influencing the paint failure, identification of failure mechanism and root cause, related problems, and corrective actions if requested.

Failure Analysis of Paint and Coatings

The stages of analysis performed when conducting paint or coating failure analysis investigation should begin with the collection of background data and sample removal. This step includes site inspection, information regarding the current history of the failure, all relevant record keeping, and records on past failures if applicable.

A preliminary examination of the failed coating and the substrate, as well as a non-destructive examination of the failure, with extensive photographic documentation, precedes any destructive laboratory evaluation and analysis. The preliminary examination does not change or damage the failed coating or substrate in any way.

At this point in the investigation, the specimens should be selected and identified for further laboratory testing and analysis. Management should be notified of any specimens collected from paint and coating failure, as the specimens, including the underlying substrate, are often damaged and of little use after testing.

A macroscopic examination of the surface of the selected specimen begins this stage of analysis, followed by a microscopic examination. A close examination of failed paint and coating chips using a stereo microscope at magnification of 50x or less may reveal that one of the layers is brittle and full of cracks, or perhaps that an entire layer of paint is missing. An examination of failed and non-failed samples may reveal that all of the failed samples are of improper thickness. A microscope at magnifications ranging from 50x to 1000x can be used to examine the cross section of failed paint and coating samples for voids or inclusion, as well as observation of underlying corrosion products on substrates.

A chemical analysis of the paint or coating, as well as the substrate and corrosion products is usually the next step. Chemical analysis techniques typically used in the laboratory for paint and coating failure analysis are Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) for organic functional group analysis, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with associated energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) for elemental analysis, and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) for surface elemental analysis.

Accelerated environmental exposure tests, such as salt spray (fog) tests, humidity tests, and ultraviolet light (QUV) exposure tests can help to confirm the proposed failure mechanism of a painted or coated substrate sample. Accelerated exposure testing can be complemented with electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). In the EIS technique, capacitance and electrical properties of the coating are measured as a function of time. If the impedance ratio does not change as a function of time, then one can, with high degree of confidence, conclude that the coating is not altered and performs very well under actual service conditions.

Analysis of the evidence; and a review of the existing data and documentation are the final stages of failure investigation. All information is gathered and analyzed to form a determination on the mode and probable cause of the failure. Identification of the mode and cause of failure provide the source for recommendations for corrective action. A final report including all relevant data, analyses, and recommendations are compiled and presented to the client. In litigation investigations, the client may not be interested in the recommendations section of the report.


weld delamination 2

                Paint Failure Due to Inadequate Surface Preparation



On Site investigation of FBE coating on a gas Pipeline, The plane of delamination is along FBE /substrate indicating surface contamination probe,



AC Interference



Accelerated Corrosion due To Pint Failure on Weldments of Wind Tower

Please see the following article published by our people:

We are here to help

We respond to all customers promptly by sending a technical proposal to address testing, investigation and the proposal costs. If we need more information, our engineers will contact you.We respond to all customers promptly by sending a technical proposal to address testing, investigation and the proposal costs. If we need more information, our engineers will contact you. Whether you are a large corporation or a small enterprise, we will provide you with the attention you need and deserve. In so doing, we hope to work with you for many years to come.

Please call Dr. zee at 1-412-952-9441 or Dr. George Bayer at 412-788-1263 and let us know how we can assist you in your investigation. Alternatively, you can send your request to

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