Regulation Tower Paint

Tower Marking Guidelines

Full Tower - Regulation Paint

Tower Marking - Paint

As of 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released new requirements for tower marking.  Any landowners are now required to mark any towers between 50′ to 200′ on their property.  Much of the guidance previously applied to only towers over 200′.  The contents of the FAA’s Advisory Circular (AC) dated 12/4/15 contains key points to consider on tower lighting and tower painting – regardless of height.  We will go over a few of the specific marking (painting) points in this article.  And suggest you reach out to a professional tower painting company for specific questions on requirements.

What Colors Are Acceptable?

The colors selected by the FAA are meant to make tower structures conspicuous to pilots during daylight hours.  The chart below lists the three main colors: Aviation Orange, White and Yellow.  FAA recommends that quality paint be used to maximize years of service.  As all outdoor paints deteriorate over time, surfaces should be repainted when the color changes noticeably.  Or if the markings effectiveness is reduced by scaling, oxidation, chipping of the paint or layers of corrosion.  FAA “In-Service Aviation Orange Color Tolerance Charts” can be purchased online or private suppliers.  When testing, be sure to check at the top of the tower as weathering is greater at the top.

FAA Tower Paint Colors

What Patterns are Acceptable?

Various patterns can be used to mark towers and other structures that pose a risk to a pilot.  The best pattern is determined by the size and shape of that structure.  Here are the recommended patterns and best structure fit:

  • Solid Pattern – solid aviation orange should be used on structures that do not exceed 10.5 feet.
  • Checkerboard Pattern – Alternating rectangles of aviation orange and white should be used on water, gas and grain storage tanks.
  • Alternating Bands – Alternate bands of aviation orange and white should be used on communication towers, poles, smokestacks, skeletal frameworks and structures that appear narrow from the side view.  Based on the height of the tower, the number of alternate bands can be determined using the chart below.
  • Teardrop Pattern – Spherical water storage tanks can be marked in a teardrop-striped pattern, alternating between stripes of aviation orange and white paint.
Band Width to Tower Height Ratios
Teardrop Pattern - Water Tower Paint
Paint Bands

What Sections Do Not Require Paint?

Not every surface of a tower or structure need to be covered in FAA approved markings.  The following do not need to be marked if a smooth surfaced caused by painting would present a potential hazard to tower maintenance personnel.

  • Ladders
  • Decks
  • Walkways

Any surface that would have an adverse effect on the transmission or radiation characteristics of a signal from the tower may also be skipped from marking.  The tower’s overall “marking effect” should not be reduced in these types of omissions.

Tower Marking Done Right

The guidance offered by the FAA is extremely useful when determining how to approach marking your tower or structure.  It is very important to select a team of tower painters who understand the requirements as well as the best methods and materials to apply those markings.  A tower audit can be scheduled today to assess the need of repainting or repairing any other portion of your tower.

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