26 Jul 2017
Painting of AC/MC and Liquidtight cable is rooted in a history of necessity.
For many years, electricians painted cables that power fire alarm systems red to differentiate them for easy identification. In the 1980’s, Fire Alarm® Cable manufacturers began to pre-paint the cable red to save time on the job-site. At the time, the only other cables that were identified by color were cables intended for healthcare applications, which are still colored green today.
Coloring cables progressed to painting stripes on the armor to identify the conductor colors housed within the metal sheath. This provides easy identification for installers and inspectors on the job site.
Coloring conduit expanded to coloring PVC on liquidtight conduits. Liquidtight conduits now come in a variety of colors to differentiate the applications. Some examples are blue for computer and data center applications, white for food processing, black for alternative energy/rooftop applications and more.
Can I paint my conduit?
The quick answer is “yes,” but let’s cover some of what you’ll need to know first. Painting the armor does not violate the National Electric Code (NEC), however, this process can be time consuming and also create more cleanup on the job-site utilizing pre-painted armor saves time and labor. In addition to adding labor costs, when using latex paint on metal armor, the paint will peel-off and be ineffective many years later.
Most liquidtight conduits come in a standard white or gray color. Using paint on the PVC jacket will peel off eventually. The use of oil, solvent or epoxy based paints are detrimental to the PVC jackets causing them to stiffen and fracture, which will compromise the circuits inside. In addition, manufacturers are required to paint identifying markings including the UL® Listing Mark on the outside jacket. Painting over these markings may violate building codes.
Liquidtight conduits can be purchased in custom colors to match the application or background for aesthetics. Purchasing pre-painted AC or MC Cable or colored liquidtight can save time and labor on the job site, and comply with NEC standards.
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