The importance of paints and finishes

The importance of heavy-duty truck paints, finishes


It’s not just what’s inside the cab that’s important. The paint and finish of the truck is critical to painting a picture of an exciting, cutting-edge fleet.

“Fleet units are rolling billboards for your business,” said Ephrem Casper, AkzoNobel’s product manager for commercial vehicle and fleet. “Utilizing the exterior of your fleet for name recognition and advertising with current and consistent branding can raise the profile of your business. Color is also a key component of branding, and the use of effect colors can make your business standout.”

Beyond aesthetics, there are tangible benefits that fleets can gain from paints and finishes, most notably corrosion protection.

“Coatings provide a protective barrier against the corrosion of vehicle bodies,” said Kyle Hauenstein, product manager for Martin Senour Paints. “In many areas, this is the time of year where salt, water, oxygen and metal react together most frequently and can cause long lasting problems. We always recommend a regular maintenance program to clean vehicles and immediately repair problem areas.”

“Paint is a key component of fleet maintenance,” Casper said. “Improved paint durability will extend life of the fleet while requiring less maintenance, which increases on-the-road time and therefore profitability.”

“OEMs are using thinner, higher strength metals for underbody/ underhood [UB/UH] structural components such as shock absorbers, suspension systems, drive shafts, stabilizing arms, steering racks, and various axle and engine parts, to accomplish light-weighting objectives,” said Scott Walton, product manager for Sherwin-Williams Product Finishes. “Extending the lifecycle of these parts is a top priority due to the costs associated with replacement. To that end, proven durability, complete edge coverage, and chemical and corrosion resistance are now driving ever more stringent engineering specifications for coatings. For finishing professionals, this means applying thicker mils to achieve proper film build, and doing what is necessary to ensure a complete cure.”

Pretreatment is paramount, Walton added, and after properly cleaning the bare metal, he recommended selecting a primer that has excellent corrosion protection properties. “Either a two-component [2K] epoxy or a 2K urethane direct-to-metal primer would be an excellent choice,” Walton said.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to selecting the most appropriate topcoat, Walton continued. Both powder and liquid coatings offer finishes that are functional and appealing, but they are very different. Some specifics Walton shared include:


  • Provide excellent coverage and edge wrap for the more intricate UB/UH components;
  • Can deliver higher film thicknesses;
  • Up to 99% of it can be recycled or reclaimed; and
  • Oven curing induces the chemical reaction that gives a smooth finish.


  • Provide a material savings advantage for smaller jobs if production lines are designed for them;
  • The only choice for parts that can’t endure high-temp cure cycles;
  • More economical for larger parts that consume lots of energy to cure;
  • Can be ambient or force-cured, increasing throughput; and
  • Have touch-up and secondary baking cycle capabilities.

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