Extending the Life of Highway Bridge Coating Systems Through the Use of Spot Painting with Minimal Surface Preparation

Steel highway bridge coatings fail unevenly. Failures initiate on sharp edges and in highly stressed locations, particularly under leaking expansion joints. Typical spot painting specifications aimed at addressing coating failures require a Society for Protective Coatings Standard (SSPC) SP-10 surface preparation, or better. The costly surface preparation and containment systems needed to facilitate the SP-10 standard negatively impact the ability of owners to address the localized distress. Consequently, significant section loss in the bearing area of steel girders is not an uncommon consequence, requiring unanticipated (demand) repairs. Identifying maintenance friendly coatings that can be applied with minimal surface preparation (at least SSPC SP-3), yet are capable of extending the service life of the existing coating until more substantial treatments can be applied, will mitigate demand maintenance needs and allow for more steel bridges to be recoated according to schedule. Maintaining the coating system so that the anticipated service life of the coating is realized will reduce the program costs for steel coatings. In addition, a coatings maintenance program will retard section loss of the steel elements and reduce the burden of demand repairs. The objective of this research was to develop guidelines for the selection and use of a broad spectrum of protective materials for spot treatment of failed coatings on steel highway bridges. Materials and application guidelines should be suitable for implementation as an effective maintenance program by state DOTs. The guidelines address: (1) The testing protocols to determine the anticipated performance and service life of protective material types for use on rusted, soluble salt-contaminated substrates prepared to SSPC SP-3 standard; (2) Best practices for spot painting to repair failed coatings on steel exposed to the elements; (3) Best practices to achieve SSPC SP-3 standard by maintenance forces; (4) Advantages and limitations of the coating system types; (5) Ease of coating application of the coating system types by maintenance employees; (6) Usage of non-traditional coating types, such as grease and corrosion inhibitors; (7) Service life issues for 5-year minimum performance of the coating system types; (8) Climate issues of the coating system types; (9) Compatibility of paint systems with the coating system types; (10) Remediation issues, such as size of repair, contaminant, and hazard; and (11) Selection of protective material types that take into account serviceability of existing coating.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 14-30

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Reynaud, David

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Kentucky, Lexington

    Kentucky Transportation Center
    College of Engineering, 176 Raymond Building
    Lexington, KY  United States  40506-0281
  • Principal Investigators:

    Hopwood, Theodore

  • Start Date: 20130903
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20180130
  • Source Data: RiP Project 38217

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01547363
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 14-30
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 8 2014 1:00AM