Powder Coating vs Paint: Which Is Better?

March 30, 2021

Which is better between powder coating and paint?

  1. Texture
  2. Raw materials
  3. Application method
  4. Health and safety
  5. Cost-effectiveness

Finished metal products such as aluminum, steel, or iron, oftentimes rely on surface coating. This is a crucial step in the manufacturing process, as the coating enhances the quality of the finished metal products, as well as, improve their shelf life and design. Two types of coating or finishes are currently widely-used in the industry — powder coating and painting. Both manufacturers and end-users have long debated between powder coating vs paint and which of these methods prove to be more advantageous than the other. 

Aside from the difference in raw materials and appearance, powder coating and paint also differ in a number of categories, such as texture, application method, design, safety, eco-friendliness, durability, cost, and shelf life. When it comes to protecting your aluminum profiles, extrusions, or any kind of metal, choosing the right coating is essential in reducing wear and tear as well as improving the appearance. Read on to learn more. 

Texture

Between the two coating materials, powder coating is the preferred product in achieving different kinds of textures. With powder coating, you can ask your manufacturer to achieve matte, glossy, semi-glossy, metallic, shiny, or any kind of texture that you can think of. This is because powder coating raw ingredients can be made out of different types of thermoplastics, polyester, or even zinc-based coatings.

On the other hand, texture can be difficult to achieve when using paint. While it is possible to achieve surfaces such as matte, eggshell, satin, and the like, they aren’t really as durable as powder coating once applied. Furthermore, achieving a thick and textured layer when using paint is considerably difficult, unlike in powder coating wherein the process has been made simple by the material. 

Raw Materials
Resin pellets

Whatever type of paint there is, you’ll find that there are four basic components: liquids, pigments, additives, paint binders, and other solvents. Meanwhile, powder coating has the following raw ingredients: the primary resin, pigments, curing agents, fillers, and other additives.

The main difference between powder coating and paint when considering the raw materials, is that paint is usually made out of liquid-based ingredients, whereas powder coating relies on powderized solid resins. 

Powder coating manufacturing starts off by mixing all of these ingredients together inside an industrial-grade machine/mixer. Heat chambers are used to melt the mixed solution before it is allowed to cool down and broken up into powdered form before it can be applied as a coating. 

Application Method

Applying powder coating can be challenging for non-professionals since they require precision. For example, when coating an aluminum profile with powder coating, the user has to ensure that all areas of the profile have been coated. There shouldn’t be any bare marks or defects that can shorten the lifespan or the coating.

On the other hand, paint can be applied by almost anyone working on a DIY project. This coating can come in both liquid and powder form — such as the case with spray paint — and is readily-available to apply on different aluminum or metal products.

Although powder coating finishes are more suitable for professional application, they are more hard-wearing compared to paint. As mentioned before, powder coating can achieve textured layer thickness in a single coating, unlike paint where multiple layers are required to achieve the desired quality. This may mean that maintaining paint coating on metal products takes more effort compared to the powder coat. 

Health And Safety
A man spraying paint on an aluminum surface

Most paints contain abrasive solvents that emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are harmful to both the human body and the environment. In the environment, VOCs release different kinds of pollutants and particulates that can harm the ozone layer. When a person gets exposed to VOCs, on the other hand, they can experience a number of respiratory and health issues such as nausea, sniffing, watery eyes, fatigue, headaches, blurred vision. These compounds may even be cancerous, especially under prolonged exposure.

Knowing all of these, it’s much more practical to use powder coating because it contains nil or negligible amounts of VOCs. They don’t cause irritation when applied, which improves the safety for both the manufacturer and the end-user. Even when working indoors or in areas that are low-ventilated, applying powder coating leads to better environmental and safety advantages. 

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-effective is different from affordable. When talking about which of the two coatings is more affordable, then no doubt that paint trumps powder coating. For one, it doesn’t take a professional to apply paint on metal products. Another reason is that paint is widely-available in the market — anyone can simply walk up to a hardware store and purchase the materials required to apply this coating.

We’ve established that paint is the more affordable between the two, but it doesn’t necessarily provide the best cost-effectivity or bring the best value. Choosing powder coating is still your best bet. Although you’ll make a costly primary investment, it’s far more long-lasting compared to paint. You’ll also get the advantage of professionally-applied coating, ensuring there are no such defects like bubble marks, discoloration, peelings, and the like.

Key Takeaway

With this guide, you’ve learned about some of the key differences between powder coating vs paint. In order to choose the right coating, look into certain factors such as the texture, raw materials used, cost-effectivity, health and safety, and the application method. Although these coatings are comparable in appearance and application, powder coating still bests paint due to the exceptional design and functional value that it brings to aluminum accessories and other metal products.

AMC Aluminum does 100% powder coating on all of their products. Click here to request a quote! You may also check out their selection here to find high-grade aluminum products built to standard.


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