To powder coat, or to liquid coat? That is the question.
Given the choice, we typically choose powder.
It’s not necessarily because powder coating is more durable than liquid – you can certainly achieve durable, high-quality finish from liquid paint. Finish is not the issue.
Powder coating simply offers the customer better turnaround time, and is far more cost effective than liquid coating.
For starters, liquid paint is more expensive than powder, particularly if the customer is looking for a high-quality paint. Additionally, liquid coating will typically require multiple coats – the amount of paint used adds to the cost, as does the time and labor expended on each coat.
While a powder coated part will be ready to go as soon as it’s cooled down, liquid coating typically requires dry time between coats, and multiple days for full curing after the last coat. This cure time is particularly critical if we plan to package the part: no matter how dry it feels to the touch, an uncured liquid coating will suffer from being packaged too early.
That being said, there are certain parts that simply cannot be powder coated. We make this decision based on two questions:
· Can this part withstand 400-degree heat without damage?
· Can it physically fit in the powder coating oven, which is 12’ tall x 14’ wide x 30’ long?
If the answer to both questions is “yes”, then we will powder coat the part.
The customer has a certain degree of control over this decision as well. For instance, we see a lot of truck beds come through the shop. If they’re still fully attached to the vehicle, we will liquid coat them, as the vehicle’s rubber components can’t withstand the oven. Liquid coating a fully-assembled vehicle takes a tremendous amount of prep work, which adds significantly to the turnaround time.
If, however, the customer is willing to take the truck apart, we can powder coat the bed quickly and easily.
We also frequently get large orders of very small parts that would be absolutely perfect for powder coating except for the fact that they have rubber seals that can’t be removed. As a result, we liquid coat these, too.
In summary: while there is absolutely nothing wrong with the quality and finish of liquid coating, we prefer powder coating because it is the more time- and cost-effective option. Customers who take the time to strip their parts of all vulnerable components will wind up saving themselves time and money through powder coating.