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Powder Power

Improving performance and installation ease

Ifs Mar18 1

Imagine if you could achieve:
• Significantly better scratch resistance than
conventional liquid coatings, a huge benefit
during installation
• The same or better performance than
liquid coatings
• An environmentally responsible choice that
architects and designer are looking for

It’s not only possible, it’s happening right now. Working with architectural grade, aka high-performance powder coatings, brings a whole host of benefits to the construction process. These high-performance powders are being used on many different applications in the construction world. Fluoropolymer powders are used on curtainwall, façade and fenestration; super-durable powders are used on commercial storefront, windows, railing and fencing; and standard polyester powders are used on interior applications—wherever there is metal!

Protection, Performance, Aesthetics

Let’s start with why architects are choosing powder in the first place: protection, performance and aesthetics. Architectural-grade powders are manufactured to deliver performance levels that meet and exceed the AAMA coating specifications. A fluoropolymer powder will significantly outperform the requirements of AAMA 2605, including color and gloss fade, chalking, corrosion protection and more. A comparable liquid product would be a 70 percent Kynar paint (except the FEVE fluoropolymer powder has significantly better scratch resistance—see below). For that reason, fluoropolymer powders get the same 20-year exterior warranty when applied by a registered applicator to architectural aluminum.

Architectural-grade, super-durable powders will meet and exceed the AAMA 2604 coating spec and most standard polyester powders will meet and exceed the AAMA 2603 specification. It goes without saying that powders are available in a range of colors, gloss levels, metallic/mica effects and for interiors, even textures, hammertones, veins and more. Always ensure that the product type, not just the color, is included in the spec. This not only allows you to demonstrate value to the architect but can avoid future performance issues. For example, RAL 7046 is available in fluoropolymer, super durable and standard polyester products so making sure you have the product type is essential to deliver the coating performance required.

Unlike competing liquid paints, the thermosetting properties of architectural-grade powders provide excellent scratch resistance, delivering huge benefits when it comes to assembly and installation as powder-coated surfaces tend not to scratch as much as their liquid counterparts. What’s more, if the powder-coated surface does scratch, it’s really easy to touch up. In fact, it’s the exact same process as liquid touch-up. It’s done in the field, with easy-to-purchase aerosol cans of liquid paint matched to the original powder coating shade that spray on and blend in.

Quality Powder Application

Powder coating is a factory-applied finish. The actual process of powder coating is pretty simple; an electrostatic process gets the powder onto a grounded part, then once applied it’s cured in an oven to form a tough, durable and attractive film. For interior applications most powder coaters can deliver a great job worthy of your project. For exterior applications, where weathering protection is important, using a registered applicator is paramount.

Proper pretreatment and high-performance powder work together to deliver protection from the elements, especially in terms of humidity and salt protection, and registered applicators have the required pretreatment processes and high-quality application lines that ensure the coating performs as it was designed.

All good powder manufacturers have a registered applicator program and registered applicators have invested heavily in the quality of their business. They must repeatedly demonstrate their capability to meet stringent pretreatment, coating and quality requirements and the international standards worthy of a warranty. What’s more, with the right applicator, most of the time powder has the same or better applied cost than liquid paints.

Delivering on Sustainability

Quite simply, powder coatings are the environmentally responsible coating choice. There’s a whole host of environmental credentials, from no VOCs, no toxic compounds, the ability to reclaim, recycle and reuse, a better carbon footprint, no chrome— especially good for anyone working around or with it—no toxic waste (which makes it safe to use and dispose of) … the list goes on. It’s a simple, cost-effective, high-performance, environmentally responsible coating choice, with no compromise on performance, that helps your clients deliver on their sustainability goals. Any LEED project you work on should automatically feature high-performance, architectural-grade powders. Some companies even have Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for their architectural-grade, high-performance powders that contribute to LEED points. Comparative high-performance liquid coatings simply don’t have this.

Powder manufacturers have teams available to help construction professionals find registered applicators and ensure the correct powder type in the right color is ordered, shipped and applied. Usually the powder team will do all that work for you, making  it easy to work with powder coating.

Fiona Levin-Smith is director of marketing and specification at IFS Coatings, Gainesville, Texas. To learn more, call (520) 345-7513 or visit