The degradation and failure of protective coatings (paints and sealants) is a key element influencing the service life of aircraft. Such degradation is influenced by the response of coatings to environmental factors such as high temperatures and exposure to ultraviolet radiation, as well as chemical factors. However, the effect of loading and load history on coating durability has received little attention, despite clearly being a factor in determining failure sites (such as joints) and the rate of degradation. This paper describes the key characteristics of coatings at aircraft joints, and the nature of the strains experienced by coatings in locations influenced by in-service loads. It is first step in assessing the complex strain history at joint strain concentration locations as part of developing a prognostic capability for the service life of aircraft coatings. The configuration of coating layers at different joints is important and this research has considered a simplification of a butt strap joint from a RAAF military aircraft and a generic lap joint; predictions of critical movements/displacements have been made using finite element analysis; the predictions will be tested later as part of an experimental program associated with a full-scale fatigue test.