Obviously, the number one item to consider is use of weathering steel. Federal guidelines exist and should be followed. Weathering steel saves on maintenance, as it eliminates the need for repainting structures.
The decision to paint leads to another question – where? This answer is based on type of structure and fabrication, transportation, and erection techniques. Designers, owners, contractors, fabricators, transporters, and erectors require a common goal. The answer can range from fully shop applied multiple coats to fully field applied multiple coats, many combinations can and should be considered within this range.
Low V.O.C., fast curing/drying, application consistency/ease, and safety driven systems should be selected from a list tested and approved by the owner.
Fabricators use softener hooks, nylon edge protectors, strapping, spacers, plastic wraps, carpet, nylon sliders, and other means to protect painted product. Transporters and erectors also employ similar equipment and specialized lifting devices. Reduction of overall cost must be the goal. It’s an "engineered" decision.
Read about the latest advances in structural steel coatings.