6 Ways to Enure You Get the Perfect Powder Coating Color and Finish
Are you looking for perfect powder coating? The best way to refinish your metal for a beautifully vivid finish and long-lasting coat, the best option is a perfect powder coating job by experienced professionals. Of course, one of the things that makes powder coating so appealing is the incredibly wide variety of colors, finishes, and protective features that you can choose from. Whether you’re powder coating a passenger vehicle or commercial trucks, a kit of tools, decorative items, or metal restoration work, it’s important to know the exact color and finish you’re looking to create. Employ the right process to get the coating color, finish, and features you need.
Of course, we don’t just do powder coating. We also like for customers to understand how the process works and what will be done to achieve your ideal finish from beginning to end. So today, we’re here to share more than a few helpful tips on how to choose the right details for your powder coating and what we will do to make that happen.
How Perfect Powder Coating Works
The first thing you’ll want to know is how powder coating works on a whole and why it’s the strongest coating option among the many different ways to refinish metal. Unlike paint, which is applied using toxic liquid solvents to apply and adhere to the pigment, powder coating is applied using electrostatic. Static-charged sprayer guns are filled with powder and pointed at a metal object, though glass is also an option. The electrostatic force causes the evenly-applied powder to stick to the item and bond with each other.
When the item is satisfactorily treated, with silicone plugs to cover everything that was not to be painted, the item is cured in an oven at exactly the right temperature to both melts the powder together into a smooth coat and bond that new coat to the metal of the item itself. This means no flaking, peeling, or cracking because the coating is now one with the metal item.
From here, you can continue to customize your powder coating by adding layers of color and special finishes that can give your item the shine, texture, and additional protective qualities that you are looking for.
For special finishes and designs, multiple layers that complement and strengthen each other are applied.
Define What You Want from Your Powder Coating
Now that you understand powder coating at the most basic process of application, you’ll want to think about exactly what you want to achieve beyond a single protective colored coat. There are so many things you can do with powder coating. You can pick an existing color or mix your own. You can layer on designs and patterns. You can choose a finishing texture ranging from a rough sandpaper-like finish to shiny chrome. You can have flat colors, layered designs, and dynamic two-tone finishes.
Virtually any finish you’ve seen done in a paint job can be recreated with powder coating. In fact, powder coating is even better suited if you’re looking for real texture you can feel.
You will also want to think about the kind of wear-and-tear your powder coated items will be subjected to. Certain special effects like vein and ripple can vary the thickness of a coating, which can make it a little less durable while applying a clear topcoat can make your powder coating far more durable but is not always necessary.
If you’re powder coating a vehicle or industrial equipment, for example, you’ll want more durable designs while decorative items and indoor equipment can be more creatively coated with less need for a clear topcoat.
Perfect Powder Coating, Piece by Piece
One of our tricks of the trade is that every individual metal or glass piece should be taken apart and powder coated separately with silicone plugs in the bold holes. This ensures that the piece is completely protected on every side and edge when fully powder coated. Items are then reconstructed after the powder coating process with no signs of seams or interruption as you might get from any other “spray-on” finish. Powder coating ensures that each individual piece is both vividly finished and protected before reassembly.
Cleaning and Restoring
However, the most important trade “secret” of perfect power coating is the importance of cleaning and restoring an item before it is powder-coated. Powder coating bonds to the material being colored, which means you want that material to be exposed, absolutely clean, and buffed to the point of being free of flaws before you begin. This is sometimes started with paint-strippers and degreasers to clean the metal of all previous paint and any oil that may have seeped in.
With the metal cleaned, sandblasting is then used to clear away any final particles of grit or paint chips along with any burrs, scratches, or small dents in the metal itself. Sandblasting is used to make sure the metallic area is completely smooth and clear of contaminants before the items are to be sprayed and cured.
Sandblasting is an essential part of powder coating and is used in the vast majority of projects.
Of course, sandblasting isn’t your only option. For particularly large projects like metal architectural restoration, sometimes laser stripping is used instead. As you might have guessed, laser stripping involves using a tightly focused beam to burn away any offending particles left on the metal finely. You might be surprised how precise and effective laser stripping can be when the project calls for this cleaning method rather than traditional sandblasting.
Buffing and Restoring
With the item stripped and cleaned, any minor damage to the surface can be repaired with a combination of buffing, hammering, and re-sanding until your item has been restored to like-new quality. This ensures not only that the powder coating goes onto a pristine surface, but also that your item will be in the best possible condition when the refinishing is complete.
Choosing or Mixing the Perfect Color
Getting the perfect color for your powder coating is a matter of working with experts and knowing what you want. It can be more of a challenge if you are looking for a depth of color with semi-transparent and clear coats, but there are so many things that an expert can do to make your powder coating pop.
Powder coating comes in more colors than a Crayola box, and professional powder coating studios have a wide variety for you to choose from. The one thing to know is that colors look a little bit different once-cured than they do as powder. The best way to get a color you’ll be happy with is to look at pre-coated and cured examples of each color. Many powder coating studios have these samples, or you can ask for one to be created.
If you want a color that is not already available in powder, it’s helpful to know that you can ask your powder coating team to mix you a new color. After all, this is pigment powder, and much like paint, you can make new colors if you want to. The key to being sure you will be happy with the final color, which can shift slightly during curing, is to test on a piece of scrap metal, cure it, and see if that is the finish you want.
Selecting the Right Finish and Texture
As you approach the end of your decision-making process, your powder coaters will talk to you about texture and finish. The texture will define not just how the coating looks, but how it feels. Rough powder coating can feel like sandpaper and is often used for a cast iron signature while chroming is very popular for cars and tools with every texture in-between. You can also pick something special like ripples, veining, and hammer finishes that add a special look to the coat but may change the performance of the coat as well.
Sandpaper to Chroming
The final texture of your powder coating depends on the powder medium and the finishing layers. The powder is mixed with a rougher medium that stands out when the coating is complete. This is also true for metallic finishes that have flecks of metal inside. Only the smallest powder mediums are used, followed by a gloss topcoat to provide a shining, durable chroming that is sturdier than traditional chroming. That same smooth shine can also be applied using non-chrome and even non-metallic colors.
Veining, Ripples, and Hammer
Veining, river finish, hammer finish, and other special effects are achieved with the method that powder coating is applied. You will need to ask for these, and your powder coater will likely want to sit down with examples to ensure you will be happy with the final result. These finishes can create variable thickness in the coat, which can slightly lower durability.
Candy Paint Finish
If you’re looking for a candy-“paint” with a color-popping depth to a shining finish, then you’ll want to plan for three coats. Your powder coater will start with a metallic primer for that shimmering background. The second layer is a colored yet transparent base that provides the pigment while maintaining the depth and shimmer of the metallic primer coat. The top gloss coat gives you that shine that is the signature if professional candy paint.
Two-tone is when your car has two different finishes in the design. These can be two different colors or two finishes of the same color. Two-tone can be done in powder coating, but only with experts who have high-temperature tape to mask with clean lines. This process also involves multiple layers, ensuring that the first color is cured before applying masking and the second color.
The Right Protective Features for Your Needs
Finally, you’ll want to think about the protective features and coats necessary to meet your project needs. If you are coating a vehicle, for example, you will most likely want to reconsider finishes that can lower durability like veining and ripples, while at the same time, a topcoat is likely an essential protective addition to your powder coating plan.
You will also want to discuss powder coating medium variations like the difference between polyester, urethane, PVC, and epoxy coating options. In a sunny region, you’ll want to calculate for UV resistance, while a snowy region will need to include calculations for poor weather and salted roads. If you are powder coating heavy-use machinery, the most durable options will be your ideal, while UV protection may not be.
Perfect Powder Coating and Expert Application
To get a perfect color, finish, and feature set for your powder coating needs, it’s vital to work with a skilled powder coating team. This is a highly precise upgrade to vehicles, equipment, and tools. Whether you’re looking for durable design detail, depth of color, or just plain old durability, we can help. Contact TLC Metal Restoration today or swing by our Long Island workshop to consult on your powder coating needs and the process necessary to achieve your goals.