Paints containing zinc oxide powder have long been utilized as anticorrosive coatings for metals. They are especially effective for galvanized iron. Iron is difficult to protect because its reactivity with organic coatings leads to brittleness and lack of adhesion. Zinc oxide paints retain their flexibility and adherence on such surfaces for many years.
Plastics, such as polyethylene naphthalate (PEN), can be protected by applying zinc oxide coating. The coating reduces the diffusion of oxygen with PEN. Zinc oxide layers can also be used on polycarbonate in outdoor applications. The coating protects polycarbonate from solar radiation, and decreases its oxidation rate and photo-yellowing.