How to Make Accent Colors and Other Useful Powder Coating Tips
Powder coating is one of the most useful ways to protect, color, and decorate metal items available today. With a combination of chemistry, technique, static electricity and a very hot oven, you can quickly coat metal surfaces and mechanical parts in a hard, nearly indestructible color coating. Powder coating is sturdier, cleaner, and better for the environment than traditional liquid paint. Of course, despite the convenience and quality of powder coating, not everyone knows how accessible it has become. Here at TLC Metal Restoration, we are here to remedy that with a few powder coating tips. We think that everyone should know both how great powder coating is and how to get the ideal appearance and results from every powder coating process. We have put together this collection of tips that will help you know what to ask when you hire powder coating professionals. We recently used powder coating to custom accent the exhaust tips for a BMW M Series.
To understand these powder coating tips, you may want a quick crash-course in what powder coating is and how it works. Powder coating is a way of ‘painting’ a metal object that results in a very strong and potentially quite colorful coat. Powder coating can be any color, and new colors can be mixed just like paint except that as the name might suggest, this time the pigment is in powder form. In fact, the mixture is a combination of pigment particles and resin which combine to form a nearly unbreakable bond with the object.
To apply powder coating, first you clean an object, then spray it with the powder mixture which sticks through static electricity. You then put the coated object in a special oven that melts the coating and bakes it on. The baking process is known as ‘curing’ like salted meats. Powder coating may take several layers to achieve the desired effect but when it’s done, you have a beautiful, sturdy ‘paint job’ without the dripping, toxic solvents, or vulnerability that comes with traditional liquid paint.
Completely Clean the Surface
If you want a smooth, flawless powder coating, you need to go through the right preparation first. Most importantly, it is vital that you start with a completely smooth metal surface. Any irregularities including minor scratches and small particles of dust will appear as bumps or grooves in the powder coating. This is why professionals who do powder coating services usually start with thorough sandblasting to get all the flecks of dust, rust, and old finish off of an object before they begin the powder coating process.
Candy Colored Powder Coating
Powder coating is an incredibly utilitarian solution but that does not mean it can’t be beautiful. If you love candy painted metal whether it’s for your car or a refurbished home appliance, you can still get the same effect with powder coating, it merely requires a particular technique. To make shiny, delicious looking candy-colored items, you’ll need a base chrome coat, a middle color coat, and finally a shiny top coat that completes the bright candy-like appearance.
First, of course, clean the item. Start with sandblasting if you can, or scour and key the surface if you the project doesn’t require it. Be careful with iron and steel items as washing them with water may cause rusting. Once the item is perfectly smooth everywhere to be coated, make sure to use silicone plugs and heat resistant tape to cover any areas you don’t want to be painted. With preparation done, add the first coat of chrome, bake it on, then let it cool until the piece is mostly back to room temperature.
Next, spray on the candy color and let it cool again. Finally, spray on the bright top candy coat which will make use of both of the under-coatings to create your final attractively shiny appearance. This will allow you to have incredibly bright colors that gleam in the sunlight and have a subtle silver depth.
Powder Coating Color Accents
Now with the way powder coating works, you might think that you will only be able to choose a single color per item. This is an understandable thought, after all, to powder coat something you spray the entire item with a pigment mixture then bake it on. However, before you bake it on, you can still make changes. The key to accent colors with powder coating is two layers and proper cooling time.
To do this trick, first, choose your accent color and the parts of your item you’d like accented. This works best if your accent areas are raised from the rest of the item like an embossed logo but they don’t have to be raised. Powder coat the accents on first and cure them in the oven so that they are fully set. Now, and this step is very important, cool the item down to room temperature.
When your item is cool enough that a new layer of powder coating won’t immediately begin to melt, spray on the base color you’d like the rest of the item to be. With a damp, lint-free cloth, carefully wipe away the new coat from the accents, revealing the first coat underneath. Once the item is cured a second time, you should have a beautiful base color with a distinct accent exactly where you intended.
Clean Powder Coated Items with Care
Powder coating is incredibly sturdy and most standard cleaning procedures shouldn’t make one whit of difference to the finish but there are a few methods that could potentially damage your powder coating. One of the biggest risks is acid or alkaline cleaners which could potentially eat away at the finish. Be careful which cleaners you select for washing your powder coated items and stay away from certain solvents, and wet cement or concrete which tends to contain alkaline.
Scrubbing your powder coating may also take some consideration. While the soft back of a sponge should be ok, try to avoid any metal or synthetic scouring pads as these might have enough scraping power to scratch your finish.
Working With Powder Coated Items
One of the great things about powder coating is that despite its durability, it works about the same as any other kind of finish. The coating is flexible enough for you to perform all the basic workshop operations on a powder coated item like drilling, punching, engraving, and so on. However, you may have some problems bending a powder coated item as the finish and the metal will have different capacities to bend on the surface.
Powder coating is one of the most useful forms of industrial and decorative finish available and here at TLC Metal Restoration, we’re proud to offer the best powder coating services. Whether you are looking to candy paint your rims or refurbish some old patio furniture, we’re happy to help you choose a color and create the perfect finish for any metal item you care to bring in. For more information about our local powder coating services, contact TLC Metal today.