Documenting Your Coating Application Is Important!

Posted by Nick Leuci on Sep 13, 2017 10:00:00 AM
Nick Leuci
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Contractor Verifying CIM Industries documentation











Experienced contractors know that documenting the activities of a coating, lining or waterproofing application can be the key to a successful job.  The purpose of documentation is twofold:

  1. Documenting serves as a reminder or checklist of all the steps needed to meet the requirements of the specification and the material to be applied.
  2. Troubleshooting after the installation is simplified when documentation exists which describes all the present conditions and steps taken during installation.

Case Study – How a job documentation solved a water quality problem

We were recently involved in a successful application of our urethane coating, CIM 1061. Proper documentation proved to be a critical component in determining sources of an application problem which arose after the application was completed.

A 50+ year old concrete potable water tank was lined with CIM 1061 as part of the rehabilitation of the tank.  Following completion of the application, the installer allowed for proper cure time, then disinfected the tank and instructed the owner it was ready for service.  The tank went online and, shortly thereafter, complaints of poor taste and odor in the water were communicated to the city water department.  VOC (volatile organic compounds) levels in the water were within allowable limits but it was determined that the coatings required additional cure time to allow any residual solvents to dissipate.

After several attempts to cure, ventilate, and test the water, the VOC levels continued to be problematic.  One of the solvents identified in the VOC testing was not present in any of the coatings, water sources, wells, or any place else, which added further to the mystery of determining the source.  A review of the project documentation determined that a solvent was used to clean the equipment.  The documentation contained the manufacturer’s name and product name, and indicated it was purchased at locally known paint supply store. 

The SDS for this solvent revealed it had an identical set of solvents which were identified in the water.   

The installation crew was summoned and they indicated some of the cleaning solvent spilled on the concrete floor of the tank during cleaning.  The contractor quickly mobilized, inspected and located the spills.  The soiled areas were cleaned and the source of the contamination was eliminated.

Without good documentation, the contractor would have had a high level of uncertainty as to the source, and likely would have struggled to find a solution.

What should be documented?

In short, everything should be documented.  The foreman is responsible for maintaining good documentation.  However, all members of the crew should understand the importance of keeping records of the project, knowing what to monitor and identifying anomalies.  The check list below contains a typical list of items to document during application of high performance coatings and linings.

We recommend items in the list below be documented for CIM installations.  Contractors can create job specific logs to record this information.  CIM has a generic “Application Checklists” that can be used as daily logs to record most of the information in these lists.

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Documentation should start with recording conditions prior to any cleaning or profiling.  Describe conditions and take pictures of the conditions.  During the cleaning and surface preparation stages of the project, record the methods used and levels of cleanliness/profile achieved to ensure the meet specification and manufacturer’s requirements.

Related article: Concrete Surface Preparation Methods When You Can’t Sandblast

Prior to application of CIM coating materials, the environmental conditions should be verified and documented.  Environmental conditions should be checked and recorded during the coating installation process as well.  It’s advisable to understand what the conditions will be post application to assure that the coating isn’t exposed to an unfavorable condition during the initial curing period (12-24 hours).  Again, a suggested list of environmental conditions to check and record can be found below.

Keep records of all products used including manufacturer’s name and product name.  This includes any accessory products, solvents, sealants, etc.  The foreman should find and record batch numbers for these products.  

CIM products packaged in boxes will only have batch numbers on the box, not on individual units within the box.  Products packaged in pails (i.e., not in boxes) will have individual markings.  Other manufacturers may use different techniques for identifying batch numbers.  Check the manufacturer’s dates and shelf life of each product.  See Figures 1 and 2 below for examples of batch number locations for CIM materials.

CIM Epoxy Primer Bucket.jpg

Figure 1 Each Pail of CIM material is marked with a batch number.


CIM Product Pagacke.jpg

Figure 2 CIM Product packed in boxes contain a batch number on the box, NOT on individual units in the box.  Save boxes or write down batch numbers prior to discarding.


During the application of CIM materials record the following:

  1. Mixing procedure and equipment
  2. Time of day, and mix time
  3. Application method, equipment and location applied
  4. Note the coverage rates, amount of area covered and amount of material used. Check wet film thicknesses and record findings
  5. Periodically check environmental conditions

When recoating previously applied materials describe the preparation of the surface.  If the previously applied product is an epoxy it should be tested for amine blush.  Similarly, when applying another coat note the time the second application is installed and/or cure time on the first coat.

Each day after the coating application record the conditions expected to be present during the initial curing period (12-24 hours).  Take note of any conditions that could impact performance or aesthetics of the product such as wind, rain, blowing debris, or presence of other conditions.


Maintaining a complete record of the coating process, including pre and post-coating activities, leads to a successful coating application.  Organizations in the protective coatings industry such as NACE and SSPC agree and stress the importance of record keeping. 

Application checklists and daily logs are reviewed in more detail during the CIM Factory Trained applicator class. More information on the CIM Factory Trained Applicator Program can be found here:  or contact us for more information.

According to the NACE Coating Inspector Program Handbook “…good record keeping is an essential part of what quality control technicians do.”*

*NACE Coating Inspector Program Handbook Chapter 14, section: 14-1 Introduction

Documentation Check List

Job specific items to be documented (written and pictorial documentation):

  • Condition of substrate prior to preparation.
  • Evidence of in service use/conditions that deviates from specs.
  • Method used to clean and prepare surface.
  • Surface profile achieved.
  • Coating products used and associated batch numbers.
    • Manufacturer name
    • Product Name
  • Accessory products
    • Solvents, sealants, protection, etc.
      • Manufacturer Names
      • Product Names

Daily Environmental Conditions that should be documented (written):

  • Air Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Surface Temperature
  • Material Temperature prior to mixing
  • Substrate moisture testing
  • Note if the substrate is in direct sunlight, wind conditions


Production Application Information to document (written and pictorial):

  • Project name and location. 
  • Substrate type (virgin surface, primed surface, etc.).
  • Was primer tested for blush, method, and result.
  • If recoating describe preparation of first coat prior to coating for 2nd time.
  • Note if the surface is rising in temperature or declining.
  • Product name and batch number if multiple numbers exist.
  • Mix time and temperature before/during mix.
  • Application method (spray, roller, brush, etc.). Describe equipment.
  • Location where coating is to be applied, direction of coating application, and location where coating operations ceases. (What was applied and where each day).
  • Amount of product used, coverage rate, number of coats.
  • Start time. Time subsequent coat was applied.  End time.
  • Note presence of other trades.

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