Denver International Airport

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Inspired by the majestic Rocky Mountains in view to the west, the unique design of Denver International Airport has made it a landmark structure recognized around the world. Built as a state-of-the art replacement for the aging Stapleton airport, Denver International, or DIA as it is known, sports features that maximize passenger efficiency, from streamlined curbside access to runways that allow three planes to land simultaneously no matter the weather. For a facility designed to meet Denver’s air travel needs well in to the 21st century, it is only fitting that Tnemec high-performance coatings were chosen to protect and beautify it.

Tnemec coatings were applied to everything from handrails to structural steel to storage tanks. In fact, the steel masts that hold up the 37 iconic fabric “tents” in the main terminal, along with the glass curtain walls that encircle them, were primed with more than 1,200 gallons of Series 90-97 Tneme-Zinc, followed by an intermediate coat of Series 69 Hi-Build Epoxoline II and a topcoat of Series 75. “Much of the mast structure and the curtain wall is not easily accessible,” says Mike Gengler, job captain. “However, it is in constant view of the public. In our case, we essentially wrote specifications around Tnemec coatings because we wanted as little touch-up and maintenance as possible.”Denver International Airport Exterior TopDenver International Airport Exterior at NightDenver International Airport Interior Underground

Inside the concourses, the bar joists and metal decks that comprise the 80 ft. high ceilings all received one coat of Series 15 Uni-Bond. The “hero” trusses and other exposed structural members were shop primed with Series 135 Chembuild and then topcoated with Series 75. Much of the concourses’ remaining steel substrates, including handrails and exterior stairs, were primed with Series 69 and finished with Series 75. However, Tnemec coatings were hardly limited to just steel. The masonry block walls in the ground level operations area of the concourses were filled with Series 130 Envirofill and topcoated with Series 69 for durability.

Flanking either side of the main terminal are two 6,800 space parking garages built to accommodate the local passengers who use the airport. Steel bracing inside these structures received a two-coat system of Series 10 Tnemec Primer and Series 23 Enduratone while the exposed concrete surfaces were coated with Series 157 Enviro-Crete, a coating designed to withstand severe thermocycling.

Turning to one supplier for such a major project might be unusual, but for Kevin Larson, project architect, the stringent requirements made the choice simple. “When we specify industrial coatings and we want performance, we’ll put in Tnemec.”

project information

Project Name

Denver International Airport

Project Location

Denver, CO

Project Completion Date



City & County of Denver


C.W. Fentress / J.H. Bradburn and Associates, P.C., Denver, CO (Terminal)


Luis Acosta Architects, Denver, Co (Heating/Cooling Plant)


Allred, Seracuse, Lawlwer and Partners, and TRA, Denver, CO (Concourses)