How to Choose the Right Protective Coating for Railcars and the Rail Industry

Railcars are constantly exposed to a variety of elements and substances that can damage both their interior and exterior surfaces. From transporting abrasive and hazardous products to exposure to harsh weather conditions, railcars tend to take a lot of abuse on a regular basis. Because of this, it’s recommended to apply a protective and waterproof coating that is chemical and abrasion-resistant preventing damage, reducing maintenance requirements, and enhancing long-term performance capabilities. 

Protective Coatings for Railcars

What Are Protective Railcar Coatings? 

Polyurea protective coatings for railcars are among the most advanced resins currently on the market. Modern polyurea coatings are equipped with enhanced waterproofing and chemical-resistant properties that ensure long-term protection against various environmental factors. Moreover, polyurea coatings contain no solvents or VOCs, can have excellent fire retardant capabilities, and demonstrate an extensive modulus range.

Application is quick using a plural component spray system and can be done manually, by robot, or by roto cast application. The end result is a completely seamless, smooth, durable, and long-lasting membrane that can withstand all kinds of conditions.

Railcars typically travel long distances to transport abrasive materials and cargo such as sand, tar, and coal. Abrasive liquid chemicals such as methyl bromide, methanol, sodium chlorate, sulfuric acid, chlorine, ethyl trichlorosilane, diisocyanate, and toluene are also frequently transported long distances. Polyurea tank linings and chemical resistant coatings prevent the risk of hazardous chemical leaks and significantly minimize the risk of adverse chemical reactions. 

6 Tips for Choosing the Right Protective Coatings for Railcars

Modern protective coatings for railcars consist of one of two polymer resins: polyurea or polyurethane. Both are incredibly effective in providing long-term protection and enhancing the performance of railcars. Determining which one is the most suitable choice for industrial applications, however, can be challenging. There are a lot of factors to consider. Here are our top tips on how to choose protective coatings for railcars.

Consider Performance Requirements

The type of protective coating that you choose for your railcars depends largely on what the specific performance requirements are of the coating itself. In other words, ask yourself what you’re looking for in a protective coating. Industrial polyurea protective coatings offer a variety of benefits including chemical resistance, weatherproofing, waterproofing, and will enhance the aesthetic and performance of your railcars for many years to come with minimal maintenance required.

Think of It as a Long-Term Investment

Polyurea protective coatings for railcars should, realistically, be considered a major long-term investment. Railcars on their own don’t have a very long lifespan. Without proper protection, they can be expected to last about 10 years or less before rust starts to develop and parts start to break down. Over time, the cost of rust removal, part replacement, and other completely avoidable repairs and maintenance will end up costing you more than simply applying a protective coating. In fact, polyurea protective coatings for railcars have the potential to extend the lifespan of your fleet by about 20 to 30 years with very little to no maintenance required in the meantime depending on the types of materials being transported and the climates frequented.

Check for Corrosion, Hazardous Chemicals, and Weather Resistance

Corrosion, hazardous chemicals, and harsh weather conditions are some of the most common threats to the well-being of your railcars. The exteriors are especially vulnerable to snow, sleet, heavy rain, strong winds, and contact with other external elements.

Before applying an industrial protective coating or tank lining to the interior or exterior of your railcars, it’s important to double check that there are no signs of pre-existing damages. Failing to do so could reduce the efficacy of the protective coating. To prevent accruing further damages, make sure to remove all rust and check for chemical residues from materials being transported.  This will also help enhance the performance of the polyurea protective coating and ensure that it’s properly applied and adheres to the surface of your railcars much better.

Superior Tensile Strength

Another factor to consider is the malleability of the protective coating. Polyurea waterproof coatings are strong enough to handle aggregates, chemicals, or anything Mother Nature throws at them but they’re also flexible enough to adapt to a variety of environmental conditions. Polyurea has impressive elongation and feels smooth to the touch, but don’t underestimate its far superior tensile strength, especially compared to polyurethane protective coatings.

Environmental Implications

Environmentally conscious businesses and hazardous waste transportation companies value the unparalleled strength and impermeability of polyurea protective coatings for railcars. Polyurea protective coatings cure in record time. They’re dry to the touch within seconds and ready to be put to work in a matter of hours. Accidents resulting in chemical spills happen from time to time, but polyurea coatings effectively contain these spills and prevent them from getting into local waterways and ecosystems.

Reduce Curing Times

Spray-on polyurea protective coatings for railcars have an extremely fast application process that can be completed in a matter of hours depending on the size of your fleet. With their incredibly fast curing time, downtime is limited for your business.

Learn More about Protective Coatings for Railcars in Ontario 

IMC Distributors is one of the leading providers of high-quality and reliable long-lasting industrial polyurea coating products in Ontario and across Canada. As the exclusive Canadian partner for Isomat and Nukote, we carry an extensive line of anti-abrasion, chemical-resistant, weatherproof, and waterproof polyurea coatings for a variety of indoor and outdoor commercial and industrial applications.

Contact us today to learn more about our products. 

Karli Logan is the Owner and President of IMC Distributors which is the exclusive partner of Nukote Coating Systems in Canada. With a B.Sc and M.Sc, as well as a demonstrated history of working across a number of industries, she has a passion to drive significant gains and benefits for IMC’s clients.