Four Surface Preparation Terms You Should Know

Finishing industry jargon can be confusing to customers. Here are four surface preparation terms you should know.

DA Sanding

Short for dual action sanding, this process involves an electric, hand-held palm sander, the likes of which you might find in any well-equipped toolbox. It spins and oscillates (hence the term dual action). We use DA sanders to buff shallow scratches out of aluminum, and remove light rust from steel parts that were not blasted. DA sanding is a key component of our surface preparation routine – if the substrate isn’t smooth, the powder coating won’t be, either.


When DA sanding won’t cut it, we reach for the grinder. Instead of sandpaper, grinders have a stone wheel that spins fast, generating heat and a shower of sparks. Grinding is too aggressive to use on small scratches – it’s designed to remove more material than DA sanding, and we have to be careful to not create divots in the substrate.

Seam Sealer

Parts with seams, overlapping joints, or narrow areas that could harbor standing water really benefit from seam sealing. Seam sealing is essentially caulking, but with high-temp material that won’t melt in the oven. We seal parts before powder coating them – once they’re cured, the seal is hidden under the coating, and water is unable to penetrate.


Pacifization is the process by which we’re trying to make the substrate not reactive anymore. Left to the elements, steel reacts with oxygen, creating the oxide that we know as rust. When we pre-treat steel, we are pacifying the surface to prevent it from rusting. Phosphate does a pretty good job of that, at least in the short term. It keeps steel parts corrosion-free until they’re ready to be coated.

For more industry jargon you should know, check out this video. Are there other terms that you’ve heard but don’t understand? Message me, and I will address them in a future blog.




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