Standard Historical Last Updated: Dec 12, 2017
ASTM D4138-07a(2013)

Standard Practices for Measurement of Dry Film Thickness of Protective Coating Systems by Destructive, Cross-Sectioning Means

Standard Practices for Measurement of Dry Film Thickness of Protective Coating Systems by Destructive, Cross-Sectioning Means
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Significance and Use

5.1 Many coating properties are markedly affected by the film thickness of the dry film such as adhesion, flexibility, and harness. To be able to compare results obtained by different operators, it is essential to measure film thickness carefully.

5.2 Most protective and high performance coatings are applied to meet a requirement or a specification for the dry-film thickness of each coat, or for the complete system, or both. Coatings must be applied within a certain minimum and maximum thickness tolerances in order that they can fulfill their intended function.


1.1 This practice describes the measurement of dry film thickness of coating films by microscopic observation of precision angular cuts in the coating film. Use of these procedures may require repair of the coating film. This practice is intended to supplement the manufacturers' instructions for the manual operation of the gages and is not intended to replace them. It includes definitions of key terms, reference documents, the significance and use of the practice, and the advantages and limitations of the instruments.

1.2 Three procedures are provided for measuring dry film thickness of protective coating systems:

1.2.1 Procedure A—Using groove cutting instruments.

1.2.2 Procedure B—Using grinding instruments.

1.2.3 Procedure C—Using drill bit instruments.

1.3 These procedures are not applicable for soft or ductile substrates that may deform under the test gage cutting tip. The substrate should be sufficiently rigid to prevent deformation of the coating during the cutting process. The surface may be flat or moderately curved. Pipes as small as 25 mm (1 in.) in diameter may be measured in the axial direction.

1.4 Individual coats in a multicoat system where there is a discernible visual difference between coats or the overall thickness of a coating system can be measured by these procedures.

1.5 The range of thickness measurement is typically 2 to 2000 microns (0.1 to 80 mils) and depends upon the cutting angle of the blade.

1.6 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. The values given in parentheses are for information only.

1.7 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

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Book of Standards Volume: 06.01
Developed by Subcommittee: D01.23
Pages: 6
DOI: 10.1520/D4138-07AR13
ICS Code: 87.040