Powder coating may not be the most well-known way of painting an object, but its popularity has increased significantly over the last few decades. As with anything, there are pros and cons to powder coating. However, before looking at them, it’s important to have an understanding of how the process works.
Powder coating uses an electrostatic gun and compressed air to spray dry paint powder onto a target object. The object is then baked in a curing oven which changes the chemical bonds of the paint and helps the powder bind to each other and the object. Everything from household objects like radiators and light fittings to car and bike parts are powder coated. So let’s look at the pros and cons.
It’s more environmentally friendly
When compared to traditional paint, powder coating is significantly more environmentally friendly. Firstly, the paint powder which does not stick to the target object can be reused. This is known as overspray, and when the process is done correctly and the overspray powder collected, powder coating can achieve 90% efficiency. Secondly, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are as low as possible in powder coating as the process does not rely on solvents to bind the paint together. Because the process takes place in a cleanroom none of the VOCs are released into the atmosphere. Lower levels of carcinogens are not only beneficial to the environment but also to humans as they can be dangerous and impact your health.
It produces a highly durable finish
Chipping and cracking are some of the biggest problems with paint. Some paint needs to be able to withstand harsh environments, and traditional paint is often not able to do this without cracking. Powder coating produces a much more durable and long-lasting coat of paint due to the way it is applied. As the object covered in paint powder is baked after being coated, the chemical bonds between the paint powder and the metal are strengthened. This is why powder coating produces such a strong coat of paint.
It’s easy to maintain
Because the finish is so durable, the paint won’t rust, and if it needs to be cleaned, it’s straightforward to do so. No specialist cleaning methods are required, but rather just soapy water can be used and rinsed off. You don’t need to take great care when cleaning a powder-coated surface either, as the finish is scratch-resistant.
You can’t do this at home
Powder coating requires a lot of equipment. Unlike going to your local DIY shop and picking up a tin of paint to bring home, powder coating requires a highly professional work environment. To get the best possible results, you need a clean room where you can spray your object, an electrostatic gun and also a curing oven. All of these different elements mean powder coating is something you need to pay professionals to do.
Only works on metal
Possibly the biggest drawback with powder coating is that it is designed to work only on metals. Other processes are being developed, which would allow it to work on other materials. Still, for now, the majority of powder coating operations are set up only to work with metal objects. Due to the target object needing to be earthed, to help attract the electrostatically charged paint particles, this can only work on a metal.
Difficult to touch up missed areas
While the overall quality and durability of a powder coat finish is very good, there can be issues if an area is missed during the initial coating. The problem is you can’t blend coats of the paint together to fill in gaps. If an area is missed, the entire coat would need to be removed, and the coating would need to start again. This is why it’s vital to have an experienced professional carry out any powder coating so they can check as they go that no spots have been missed.
Powder coating has several significant advantages, as shown above. For both large scale industrial production or if you just need your bike frame repainting. While there are drawbacks, the overall effectiveness of the process makes it an excellent option for painting metal products.