Coatings are not eternal. Powder coating shows its age in two major ways. 1. How the coating evolves, and 2. How the coating adheres.
Here’s what I mean.
How Powder Coating Evolves
Powder coating has a finite amount of time in the sun – literally – before it starts to break down. UV light bleaches the pigments, making them less vibrant. Fading will happen fastest (and most noticeably) in bright, high-gloss colors. In regular durable powders, you’ll start to see a difference after a year; in super durable powders, it could take up to five.
As powder coating ages, it will also grow chalkier. The part will start to feel scummy, as though it’s covered in fine dust. Chalking is separate from fading, but typically happens concurrently as a result of UV exposure.
The rate at which powder coating chalks and fades has more to do with the powder than it does with the operator’s skill in applying it. Chalking and fading can’t be prevented, only delayed – and delaying it will likely require you to shell out for a more durable powder chemistry.
How Powder Coating Adheres
Powder coating is not bulletproof. The more you handle the part, the more likely you are to scratch or chip the coating. Some powder chemistries are harder and therefore more resistant than others, but the coating’s ability to stay on the part ultimately depends on whether the coater properly prepped the surface.
I recommend blasting parts before coating them. Coatings adhere better to a blasted surface, meaning that even if the powder chips due to blunt force trauma, it’s less likely to peel away from the original point of impact. Pretreatment can help with this as well.
In addition to looking bad, chips and scratches allow corrosion to set in. Nothing will ruin your coating faster than that. For best results, find a shop that prioritizes surface preparation, and then handle the part gently after it’s been coated.