A method for determining the hardness of a coating by sliding pencils of predetermined hardness over the coating. The test can be performed on a single layer of a coating or on the top layer of a multilayer system. This quick test was not found to be useful for comparing the hardnesses of different coatings by testing with pencils. It is more useful to provide relative ratings for a range of coated panels that have significant differences in hardness by pencil testing. The method is only applicable to smooth surfaces.