Whether you are installing a large telecommunications tower for your business or you are simple hobbyist with a large HAM radio tower in your back yard, the FCC and FAA regulate certain aspects of the construction. One of those regulations is that towers over a certain height must be either painted for visibility, lighted, or both, particularly if they are located within a flight pattern for low-flying aircraft. The following guide can help you determine the best way to address this safety requirement.

Color Choices

There are limitations on the colors that can be used for a tower. The main requirement is that the colors must be light enough to reflect at night but bright enough to be seen during the day. Orange and white are the standard colors, but you have the choice of using just one color or both. If you opt to use lights as well as painting, then you will need to choose red, white, or both colors of lights.

Paint Type

Painting is a good idea even you choose to light up the tower because the paint will help protect the metal against corrosion. Most towers are made of galvanized steel, which is already corrosion-resistant, so the paint provides mainly a backup barrier against weathering. An acrylic latex outdoor paint adheres well to galvanized steel. Make sure it is formulated for outdoor use, though; otherwise, it will weather and wear off quickly. You can find paints that are formulated specifically for exterior applications on metal such as steel.


Tower paint can be applied like any exterior paint -- you can brush it on or use a paint sprayer. Paint sprayers are simpler when it comes to even coverage and reaching all the nooks and crannies present on most tower designs. Before applying the paint, use a primer. Primers help the paint adhere, and they provide an extra layer of protection in the event the paint starts to weather. Choose an acrylic latex primer formulated the same as your tower paint to ensure that the primer and paint are compatible.


Very little maintenance is necessary to keep the paint job in good condition. You should inspect the paint at least once a year for any wear, such as thin areas, peeling, flaking, and bubbling. If the paint is starting to weather, repainting is necessary. A small amount of peeling paint will quickly lead to wholesale paint loss as moisture works between the layer of paint and the steel tower.

Contact a tower painting company for more help with your project.