If you own a radio tower or cell tower, maintaining it so that everything works correctly is vital. However, tower painting is also critical for towers over a specific height. The colors used, the pattern on the tower, and how often it is painted are not just about protecting the tower in most cases but also making it easy to see for pilots in the area.
Radio and cell towers are made from lightweight metals like aluminum, and while the weather can affect them over time, they are very durable in their raw form. A steel tower will rely on paint or other coatings for protection, but the tower must be painted properly to comply with FCC rules for broadcast towers.
Tower painting contractors are often employed to climb and paint these broadcast towers, but the job requires some planning because there are specific paint colors and patterns that you must use on the tower to ensure it is visible from the air by airplanes, helicopters, and even skydivers in the area.
Working with a paint contractor familiar with the rules and colors is often the easiest solution to painting your tower. Still, it is vital that you understand the laws surrounding tower painting and identification. After the work is complete, you are responsible for the tower, so knowing that the colors and markings are correct is critical.
While the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) remains the governing body for communications towers, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires marking the towers for aviation safety. The color requirements include aviation orange and white paint, and it must be applied to structures over two hundred feet tall in horizontal bands. Most towers require seven bands to break up the tower enough so that pilots can see it easily and avoid collisions with the structure.
Towers under two hundred feet are not required to be painted, but the FAA encourages it for any tower over ten feet high. In rural areas where crop-dusting aircraft operate, even a low tower could be a hazard if the pilot can not see it. These smaller towers can often be painted in single colors, but the alternating pattern is the best way to ensure the tower doesn't blend into the background.
While the rules for tower painting are very detailed, you can often find out what you need to do with your radio or broadcast tower by calling the local FAA office. You may also want to refer to the FAA publication Advisory Circular 70/7460-1M, which is found on their website.
A tower painting company can also go over the information with you and help explain the rules, requirements, and information in the advisory to make the process easier.
NOTE: FAA Advisory is found here:
https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/Advisory_Circular_70_7460_1M.pdf and other information here: http://sbjohnson.com/2020/07/30/everything-you-need-to-know-about-antenna-tower-painting/