Powder coated finishes are very robust and long lasting and normally require very little cleaning or maintenance. Some applications naturally receive more wear and tear than others and will show signs of ageing faster as a result. For example, a powder coated handrail on a busy staircase receives transfer of body oils, grime and dirt perhaps hundreds of times or more every day.
What Exactly Is A Powder Coated Finish Made Of?
Essentially it is composed of polymers, like most plastics. The significant ingredient is epoxy resin, which is widely used to protect metal against corrosion. When it is heated or cured and mixed with other chemicals generally called hardeners, it flows and covers the surface of the object in a tough but flexible barrier. A powder coating mix will also contain pigments for colour and cures to a high gloss attractive finish.
Outdoor powder coating finishes usually last between five to ten years deepening to a great extent on the local environment and also on a frequent maintenance program. Proper cleaning extends the life of the finish significantly.
Causes Of Weathering Of Powder Coated Finishes
What is commonly known simply as weathering is usually a combination of several factors such as:
- Absorption (permeation of gas, moisture and chemicals/solvents)
- External impacts and abrasion
- Sunshine (solar heat and energy)
- Biological activity such as mildew, microbiological agents and marine fouling
The local environment is probably the biggest factor in how quickly a finish will deteriorate. Coastal areas suffer from marine corrosion and bird droppings (especially corrosive), and large cities or industrial areas may suffer from airborne pollutants. Some colours naturally fade faster than others. Red and blue are two good examples.
Principles Of Good Maintenance Of Powder Coated Finishes
There are just two main principles to providing the best care and maintenance for powder coated finishes:
- Clean them frequently – every two or three months
- Use only mild “soap and water” type cleaning fluids
One of the causes of weathering listed above is absorption of chemicals that slowly react with the polymer coating over time. Therefore it makes perfect sense not to use strong cleaning agents or aggressive grease removing substances. Chemicals and solvents evaporate leaving behind microscopic capillaries, micropores and microcracks in the coating. Regular cleaning every two or three months is important to remove dirt, which can contain chemicals that may act on the finish.
Good old fashioned soap and water is all that is required in the vast majority of cases. Objects that do not normally come into contact with human hands, such as powder coated window frames, will respond very well to this type of maintenance. Objects that receive heavier usage may not come up all new and shiny looking as time goes by but the temptation to use a stronger cleaner must be resisted as that may only cause more damage.
Steel Fabrication & Coating Services
Find out more about the services that GLW Engineering offer for both structural and architectural steel fabrication. Our facilities also frequently host restoration jobs that benefit from our in-house facilities such as shot blasting, sand/grit blasting, powder coating, hot zinc galvanising, soda blasting and others.
Our continuous service improvement program means that more useful services are added every year. Contact us today to discuss your project or requirements and find out in what ways we can help to deliver a high quality and on-time order.