All About Paints

Painting,  does it make a difference? Is it just putting color to your trailer?   The funny thing is,  paint does so much more than just add color to your trailer. Paint adds protection.  But before the paint,  the most important thing is prepping your steel.  That is the most important item  adding years of protection to your trailer. We will try to help explain why it is really important that your steel is prepped  and try to explain just how important it is when deciding on a trailer. Next we will get into the wide world of priming and painting, and getting that nice color finish on your new trailer.

Prep Work

Steel comes in from the mill to the manufacturer in lengths or bars.  Skilled workers bend and cut the steel into  shapes and styles,  and the end result is the trailer that you are looking to buy.  When the trailer is done being put together it then needs to be painted.   Steel is dirty and has a film on it called “Mill Scale”  Mill scale is almost like fish scales.  It is a thin layer of material that is left on the steel.  That small layer of steel is dirty.  It needs to be cleaned properly so the primer can stick to it.   It is really important that you find out how the manufacturer is cleaning the mill scale off.  If the mill scale isn’t cleaned off of the trailer, the primer and paint will not stick to the steel. This will cause your primer and paint to flake off, leaving the bare steel open to rusting.  Rusting will eat away at your trailer, and quickly cut the life span of your trailer.

Below is a picture of some mill scale on a piece of steel.  One can see how dirty it is.

How to clean millscale?

Now that we know that there is mill scale associated with the steel,  the next question is how do manufacturers clean it off?  Sandblasting, and acid washing are the most common types of cleaning the mill scale off of steel.  it is really important to make sure that this is being done first to ensure that you are going to get a product that will last you for years to come.


Sandblasting is the only 100 percent pure way to clean the steel.   Small particles (mostly sand) are driven at high velocities towards the steel.  People who “blast” where special protection equipment,  to protect themselves from the small particles in the air and the loud noises that are associated with it.    Sandblasting is like pressure washing your car.  You need to cover the whole area.  When you blast the sand hits the mill scale and removes it from the steel. This will leave the steel 100 percent clean,  and ready for priming.

Acid Washing

Acid washing is exactly that.  It is an acid that cleans the steel.  Once again we can compare it to washing your car.  Acid washing is also an excellent way to remove the mill scale from the steel.

In any new trailer that you buy,  please make sure that the manufacturer preps the steel in some way.  Without it,  the paint will just be put on over the mill scale.  The mill scale will eventually fall off, bringing the paint and primer with it.  When you are shopping in a dealers yard, one of the most important thing you can find out is how the steel is prepped before they paint.  Purchasing a properly prepped trailer will save you money and will certainly save the life of your trailer.

Now that the new trailer is put together and cleaned off with sandblasting or acid washing,  the next step is priming and painting the trailer. There are virtually hundreds of paint options that manufacturers can use when finishing trailers.   We would like to touch on explaining what is priming and painting to give you some information when choosing your new trailer.


Priming is quite simply what protects your trailer.  It is a base coat of a paint product that gets applied to the steel of the trailer.  This base coat of the paint product is the most crucial step when getting ready to paint the trailer.   The primer is a base coat that will  help keeps the moisture out which will prevent rusting.  Primer ensures better adhesion of paint to the surface, increases paint durability, and provides additional protection for the material being painted.


Finally painting is the final step, and the most exciting!  The wide variety of colors in the rainbow allow the end user to pick whatever color that they decide on.   The paint adds the final protection for the primer.  It will protect it from the sunlight, and nicks and scratches caused by road debris.

Below is a video of yellow paint being applied to a trailer.


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