Paint vs Powder Coating for Metal Fabrication
When it comes to metal fabrication, there’s an ongoing debate about paint vs powder coating and which is best. As industrial paint experts, we wanted to give our opinion to help you make an informed choice about which to choose.
Before we go any further into paint vs powder coating, we need to explain a few of the terms we’re covering in this article.
What is Powder Coating?
Powder coating is a type of dry coating used in place of liquid paint. It protects the metal underneath against rust and damage whilst adding aesthetic appeal. The powder coating is applied with a spray gun using an electrostatic process to bond the powder to the substrate.
Following application, it’s then heated to at least 200C to cure the powder into a tough and durable surface. This type of industrial coating comes in all colours and can contain various ingredients, such as polyurethane, polyester and acrylic.
What is Industrial Paint?
Unlike regular paints, the focus of industrial paint is to protect the underlying substrate. While aesthetics are factored in, it’s the quality of an industrial coating which is paramount. You’ll find different formulations depending on the substrate and intended use.
These liquid paints are applied with a brush, roller or spray, depending on what you’re painting.
Paint vs Powder Coating Side by Side
When it comes to metal fabrication, there are a few core areas to consider when deciding which is best. Let’s compare both coating options in the following scenarios.
There’s no doubt that powder coatings are more expensive due to the cost of energy to heat the metal to 200C for a 20 minute period to enable the powder to cure.
Liquid paint, however, requires minimal specialist equipment and is more cost-efficient in that sense. If you’re spraying paint, you do suffer some wastage as you can’t salvage or reuse paint that doesn’t land on the metal due to overspray. There’s less wastage with powder coating, as unused powder is recyclable.
There’s no clear answer to which is best here, as it depends on the task at hand and the equipment available. Whilst large structures that are to be coated sometimes can not fit into a curing oven then wet paint is the only option available.
Due to the curing process, powder coatings once cured is completely dry and are usable as soon as they’ve cooled down.
Depending on the paint you use, it can take a few hours or a few days for the paint to dry. So paint does have an obvious downside if you’re in a hurry. That said, as liquid paint is self-drying, there’s no need for industrial ovens and you can use it on metals that aren’t suitable for exposure to high temperatures.
Repairs and Touch-Ups
Powder coating is difficult to repair and touch up for several reasons. Firstly, colour matching requires a specialist technique to avoid having a speckled effect. As powder coatings are vulnerable to chipping and peeling, you could struggle to accurately touch up a small section.
Secondly, if the coating is damaged, water can seep in and cause serious damage to the metal underneath. Even if you can touch up a small section, you’re simply trapping the water inside, which could cause further damage and compromise the integrity of the metal underneath.
Finally, powder coatings are very difficult to remove, even with sandblasting. This makes repairing or replacing them a very tedious and time-consuming task!
When it comes to paint vs powder coating, liquid paint is much easier to mix and colour-match. At BC paints, we use widely recognised colour charts, such as RAL and BS, to ensure you receive the most accurate colour possible. This makes future repairs and touch-ups much easier.
Powder coatings aren’t the most versatile as they’re only suitable for thick applications. While you can attempt a thin coat, it leaves a bumpy, uneven finish.
Liquid paint is much more versatile as you can apply it in different ways and thicknesses. It’s easy to achieve a smooth, glossy finish on almost any metal substrate. You can use it on more objects (and materials), including signage and marine areas subject to extreme conditions.
Is There a Paint as Tough as Powder Coating?
It’s extremely durable and long-lasting, even when immersed in salt water for a long time. With an additional layer of UV protection, there’s no need to worry about it fading over time, either. Unlike powder coating, it’s easy to remove and repair when necessary, and colour matching is straightforward. It’s an all-round excellent industrial option.
Paint vs Powder Coating: The Summary
Powder coating inevitably has many uses when it comes to metal fabrication. It creates a smooth and durable finish designed to look good and protect the substrate underneath. However, it requires specialist training and equipment (which isn’t cheap!) and isn’t suited to every task.
For us, liquid paint wins the contest. At BC Paints, we formulate and manufacture all of our industrial paints in the UK to ensure they’re the highest quality and offer maximum protection. They offer an extremely tough and long-lasting finish while being far more versatile and easier to repair.
We pride ourselves on having a wide range of colours and finishes available too, with more than 10,000 options mixed to order. Contact us today to see how we can help with your metal fabrication needs.