Paints are often studied by sectioning and examining in cross-section.
Examination of paint is performed using optical microscopy and/or scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Energy dispersive x-ray analysis is used to determine the inorganic constituents e.g. fillers and pigments in the separate paint layers. Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy is used to determine the polymeric components. This information then provides a description of thickness and formulation of each separate layer.
Other properties relevant to paint analysis are hardness and adhesion. Pendulum hardness can be used to determine paint hardness. Adhesion of coatings to metal substrates can be determined by applying and removing tape over cuts made in the film.