Imperfect Science: Improvements in Corrosion Detection in Professional Painting Reply

“This is bad news, Hal.” The contractor looked up from his plans and walked over. Luke was crouching, inspecting the rivets and bolts at the base of the complex valve system that delivered chemicals from transport trains into the factory. Luke continued, “There’s corrosion all over this system. Normally, that might not be a big deal, but it looks like someone else kept painting over the damage instead of fixing it. Look at this!” Luke ran a magnet over the painted surface. At some points, the magnet held tight to the coating, but at other points, the magnet fell to the floor. Even through the top level looked well-painted and clean, the substrate underneath was telling a different story.

Hal protested, “Come on, Luke. It looks fine from here.” Luke continued his objection: “The metal under the paint is in bad shape and it’s likely getting worse. Maybe it holds up ten more years…or maybe it starts falling apart next week. If you insist on doing the work without addressing the underlying problem, then I suggest you find another painter. I’m not doing it.”

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Amazing Paint Stories: The Challenges of Painting the Golden Gate Bridge Reply

While paint may not be a common topic of conversation when it comes to famous landmarks, that’s definitely not the case with the Golden Gate Bridge. In the case of this iconic bridge, everyone has a tidbit to share regarding the herculean task of maintaining its signature color on such a massive scale:

“The Golden Gate Bridge is painted end to end each year!”  Not true. In fact, the current Maintenance Supervisor says that painting the bridge from end to end would take his team of 11 most of their career to accomplish.

“The Golden Gate Bridge was originally to be painted gold, but the planners ordered the wrong color.”  Not true either. The Army wanted the bridge painted with black and yellow stripes so it could be seen through the dense fog by ships. The Air Force wanted the bridge painted red and white like a candy cane so it could be more easily seen by airplanes passing over it. Ultimately, the color was decided by the original designer, who thought the magnificence of the structure deserved a unique color.

“The Golden Gate Bridge’s paint color and formula are closely guarded secrets!”  Also not true. The paint color is actually based on the anti-corrosion primer that came on the original steel and is known as “International Orange.” The specific formula is available on the bridge’s website and through Sherwin Williams, the manufacturer of the paint itself. More…