When it comes to deciding on powder coating or painting for your project, there are many factors to consider. Will the product be out in the elements? Will the part be exposed to mechanical stresses? Is the thickness of the finish an issue? Do you need custom color work?
There’s no one finish that’s always better in all situations. Here’s how powder coating and wet painting compare across several key areas, to help you weigh your options.
In the powder coating process, dry powder particles are electrostatically charged onto the product or part surface. This “powder coating” is then cured in a specialized oven, where the powder melts into a gel and coats the surface. The result is a thick, even and durable finish.
In this process, liquid paint is wet-blasted onto the product or part surface using a spray, pump or pressurized vessel. The paint is applied until the surface is evenly coated to the desired thickness.
Powder coats are usually a one-pass finish. Because the coating is created by heating the powder into a gel, there are no drips, runs or application marks. This produces a remarkably even, consistent finish. Powder coatings are also supplied ready for immediate use without the need for pre-mixing, stirring, solvent additions or viscosity adjustments, so variations are minimized.
Achieving an even finish with wet paint is trickier, often requiring multiple coats. Complete coverage is also difficult with solvent based sprays.
Powder coating produces a thick, dense finish that is more durable and longer lasting than standard wet painting. Painted surfaces may require maintenance and refinishing sooner. That’s why powder coating is often the choice for parts and products that are exposed to environmental and mechanical stresses.
One of the main advantages of powder coating is its superior corrosion resistance. It delivers high film builds and good edge coverage, as well as high crosslink density, good resistance to hydrolysis, low moisture and oxygen transmission rates, and films free from any traces of residual solvents.
While powder can be applied over a wide range of film thicknesses, powder coating by and large produces a dense, thick finish. It can be difficult to achieve a thin finish without negatively affecting the finish texture. Powder coating is commonly applied between 2-3 mils across many commercial and industrial applications.
Wet paint can produce a much thinner finish. This meets the finishing needs of products that demand a thin finish.
Powder coating can be done in many different colors and textures, including custom finishes. Liquid paint, however, comes in a wider range of colors and can be mixed to create far more. Some custom color work may require wet painting.
Unlike liquid painting, powder coating is free of VOC outgassing, making it much easier on the environment compared to liquid paints. Less paint is wasted, too, due to the efficiency of the coating process.
Wet Painting/Liquid Painting
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