Painting vs Coating : Difference between Painting and Coating, Which one is best ?

Painting vs Coating / Difference between Painting and Coating

Due to no clear definition for any term in the regulations and standards, the names are frequently used interchangeably. The term “painting specification” has traditionally been applied to industrial applications.

However, many end-users are currently altering the title of their specification to “Protective Coating Specification” or “Painting (Coating) Specification” because industrial needs are based on one or more of the following purposes:

  • Functional performance
  • Decoration/aesthetics
  • Color-coding (safety base)

Example 1: Oxygen Cylinders are painted black in color (color code standards – IS 4379) also provides basic protection from atmospheric corrosion

Example 2: Anodising of Aluminium or Titanium, is a coating whose main function is corrosion resistance.

MeaningCoating is umbrella term (general) for any applying a material layer on the substrate.Painting is one type of coating process (usually polymer or slurry based)
PurposePerformance focusedDecorative or aesthetic focus with some protection
Applying methodpainting, chemical or physical deposition, electro-chemical platingMainly brush, spray, sponge roller.
Type of bondingPhysical or ChemicalMainly Physical
Commercially Known Processes/ ProductsConversion Coatings
CVD – to learn click here
Thermal Spraying/Cold Spraying
Wall, Wood Paints
Metallic Paints on furniture
ApplicationOther than anticorrosion paints also used for functional purposes, such as mechanical protection coatings, fire protection coatings, waterproofing coatings, wear-resistant coatings, which can be applied on metals, concrete, and other substrates.More often used for decoration or color coding rather than the functional purpose.   Many people use “painting” to cover everything. In the material terms, all paints are coatings but not all coatings are paints.
Materials that can be depositedAny solid or liquid film to a substrate or to the application of such a layer on the substrate material.A layer on the substrate with paint, varnish, lacquer, tar, etc. in liquid form or to the application of such a layer.
Thickness of the filmUsed for lower and also higher thicknesses.Used for lower thicknesses.

In terms of the material point of view, all paints are coatings but not all coatings are paints.

Fig.1 Paints are subset of coatings (one type of coating)

Coating vs Painting / Difference between Painting and Coating

Difference between painting and coating, painting vs coating


  1. Jung-Chul (Thomas) Eun, “Handbook of Engineering Practice of Materials and Corrosion”, Springer 2020

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