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Touch Up Paint

Touch-up paint is used in many industries and hobbies, from train sets and other model toys to the touch-up paint you may use to cover up a scratch on your car or construction project. The benefits of using touch-up paint are obvious: if the coating is compromised, touch-up paint may offer a fix that is acceptable to the owner. Usually, the primary consideration is how the touched-up area looks.

With architectural aluminum, the considerations can be far-reaching beyond aesthetics. Most of the coatings applied to architectural aluminum are either AAMA 2605 powder or painted coatings or AAMA 611 anodized coatings. Building owners, architects, General contractors, and sub-contractors should understand what they will get when they ask for touch-up paint for these finishes.

It is important to understand that anodized coatings are not a film on top of the aluminum. The anodizing process alters the exposed substrate layers of the aluminum in an electrochemical process, which changes the aluminum in a controlled method. Storefront suppliers supply most architectural aluminum with a corrosion-resistant, anodized, matte finish familiar to consumers. As a result, architectural aluminum typically results in a uniform anodized coating, which appears either clear/natural or a bronze/brown or black 2-step process. This process is analogous to staining wood, where the aluminum’s chemical makeup will dictate the appearance of the anodized coating. If the anodized coating gets scratched, nicked, or otherwise needs to have the anodized coating concealed, there is no known process for covering up the problem. Touching up with a marker, crayon, shoe polish, paint, or anything else could easily cause the touchup to stick out and become more evident as a blemish than before the touch up. Typically, both the hue (color) and the shade (gloss level) have a poor appearance. For these reasons, SAF does not recommend using any touch-up for any anodized job, particularly where the anodized coating is compromised. Rather than using touch-ups, please consult with your aluminum anodizer to see how they recommend managing any anodized finishing defects.

Using a touch-up product on a painting job also comes with its complications. Touching up architectural paints applied by SAF is also typically a cosmetic band-aid. SAF pretreats the aluminum they paint or powder coat with a “conversion coating” that the paint suppliers qualify as a suitable substrate for their coatings. SAF can supply a touch-up product where we mix an additive with the original paint, enabling it to air dry. Unfortunately, without the process taking place in the controlled environment of SAF’s painting facility, where we pre-treat, prime, coat, and then bake in a tightly controlled manufacturing process, SAF does not warranty touch-ups. We also expect touch-up to appear different than the coatings we applied.

Additional warnings and guidelines to touch up coatings that SAF may supply:

  • Touch-up coatings are only available upon request.
  • End users should apply touch-up coatings using small aerosol cans or bottles with a brush.
  • SAF recommends touch-up coatings only to cover small blemishes or exposed cut ends on fabricated parts.
  • Touch-up coatings DO NOT have the same adhesion or durability as factory-applied coatings. Touch-up coatings will exhibit chalking and fading quicker than parts painted with an oven-baked finish.
  • SAF recommends using any touch-up products as sparingly as possible, no more than a few square inches, as any touchup will fade in contrast with the original building after only a few years.


SAF can supply small quantities of touch-up paint directly to our customers under a “no-liability” clause. We do not accept responsibility or liability for touch-up paint, paint preparation, application, adhesion, or durability. SAF’s customers will take full responsibility and liability for all aspects of touch-ups. Excessive use of touch-ups voids any warranty. To furnish touch-up paint, SAF will require a signature from the purchasing customer, which indicates that they have read and understood the preceding paragraphs.