In this work the microstructural features and defects identified previously in corrosion and porosity tests of the coatings were studied. The influence of surface roughness was evaluated with (Ti, Al)N coatings on two different types of substrates. Coatings deposited on the roughest surfaces on either a high speed steel or a stainless steel had the highest porosity. However, the dependence of the porosity on the surface roughness was not straightforward. Interrupted coating runs were carried out to obtain more information on the initiation of defects in the substrate-coating interface. Samples produced in the interrupted runs were analysed using metallographic methods, scanning electron microscopy with X-ray analysis, Rutherford backscattering spectrometry and secondary ion mass spectroscopy. Sputtering was found to be effective in removing the impurities from the interface and none of the non-metallic elements (carbon, oxygen, sulphur) studied exhibited any enrichment on the interface. The use of a tungsten filament for enhancement of the plasma was found to result in a tungsten-enriched layer at the substrate-coating interface, which may have an effect on adhesion and corrosion properties of the coating. However, no droplet types of formations were detected after sputter cleaning or when either titanium or aluminium evaporation was started, suggesting that tungsten was evenly distributed in the coating.