Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

May, 2005

Painting vs Coating Contractor

Q. I have been apply coatings and waterproofing systems for fifteen years and recently applied for my own license in Nevada.

I applied for a C-40 unclassified license " specialty coatings" since they do not offer a true coatings training coarse and 90% of my competition has that classification.

We apply mostly urethane waterborne systems and acrylic systems over plywood decking as well as many below grade systems. Also epoxy and concrete overlay flooring systems.

The state board has tried to classify me as a painter and require me to take a painters trade exam that requires everything from drywall to shellacs. Areas that I am not familiar with.

The board is going to discuss my issue this week 5/19 at their monthly meeting and I am trying to find information that can point out the differences between painting and coatings. So far the best I can find is the obvious difference in mils. I know the basic differences but can not find some true hard facts that can help my case. Can you help?

Thank you very much for your time.

A. I have never seen a definition of a painting operation versus a coating operation, because we use the two words interchangeably.

To me, the difference is between architectural and industrial applications. In my mind the difference is more in the methods used to apply the paints/coatings. A "painter" in the architectural sense, is someone who uses a brush, roller or spray gun to apply paints to architectural surfaces, whereas a "painter" in an industrial sense uses a spray gun to apply high gloss (and others) paints for corrosion protection and excellent appearance. Industrial painters have different skills from architectural painters.

Based on my interpretation of what you do, I would put you in the first category and not in the second. In other words, even though you don't have much experience with drywall and shellacs the way you described your job puts you in that category. I'm not aware of any certification for industrial painters.

I hope this helps, but perhaps you should call the Master Painters and Decorators Association for a different interpretation.

Best wishes,

Ron Joseph

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