Powder Coating Care and Maintenance

Powder coatings that are applied to metal products exposed to the weather will inevitably degrade over time. A number of conditions, including those found in nature, will contribute to shortening the life of this type of protective finish.
• Sun
• Rain
• Wind
• Pollution
• Cold weather
• Salt water
• Electrical current
• Dissimilar metals
Given that there are so many elements that can affect the coating, it’s not surprising that it will break down over time.
The right type of care and maintenance is essential to combat the detrimental effects of the elements when finished parts are exposed to the sun, wind, rain, etc. No powder coating is entirely maintenance-free — over time, it will lose some (or all) of its decorative and protective properties due to the effects of weather and other influences.
Consider what would happen if someone went out into the sun without applying a sunblock product to their skin. During the part of the day when the ultraviolet rays are at their most intense, it’s possible to see the effects of sun exposure on unprotected skin in an hour or less.
If you own a vehicle and you don’t take steps to protect your car or truck’s paint, you will notice the effects of the elements on it, too. Over time, the finish will show effects such as corrosion, chalking and erosion.
Proper care and maintenance is crucial if you want to extend the service life of any metal surface. The more value you attach to it, the more important it is to invest in regular maintenance efforts.

How to Maintain Powder Coated Surfaces

With the right type of maintenance, you can increase the service life of the finish of powder coated surfaces. The care and maintenance tips listed below can help to keep the repair and maintenance costs down for some items, as well.
1. Avoid Harsh Chemical Cleaners. Powder coatings can be damaged by harsh solvents. A number of commercial cleaning products can cause damage to these types of finishes. Once the finish has become damaged, it is much more vulnerable to fading, staining and failure of the finish itself. When harsh chemical cleaners are used on powder coated surfaces, the life expectancy of the finish can reasonably be halved.
The service life of an organic finish cannot accurately be predicted due to the number of variables that can affect its ability to beautify and protect the surface where they have been applied. A professional finishing company would never even attempt to give a firm answer about any of the following:
• How long a particular finish will last
• The rate at which the coating will start to lose either its protective or decorative
• The rate at which values are lost
These are impossible to predict with any degree of certainty. Anyone who tells you they
can give you a definitive answer is likely overreaching.

2. Proper Cleaning and Maintenance to Extend Effective Service Life. While it may not be possible to map out the exact length of service life you can expect to get from fabricated products, you can extend their effective service life with the right cleaning and maintenance. It could double or even triple the coating’s effective service life.
For applications that will have a high visibility factor, such as ones being used in buildings, a prudent approach involves maintaining detailed maintenance records that include the dates of all cleanings, including the products and materials used.
These records will be important in tracking the type of cleaners used to keep the surface of the material looking its best.

3. Pressure Cleaning. Pressure washing is likely the most efficient method of cleaning coated surfaces to remove dirt and grime. It can be used to clean bus shelters, commercial patio furniture and other outdoor surfaces. The pressure washer should be used on a low-pressure setting with filtered water. Don’t use unfiltered tap water or groundwater.If you use unfiltered groundwater for cleaning, it can leave stains on the metal surface. If the water contains fluoride, sulfur, iron oxide or chlorine, they can stain outdoor products. One way to tell before starting to clean powder coated surfaces is to examine the areas where the wind blows water from sprinkler systems. Stains and discoloration on other objects are a sign you will likely have to deal with the same on the powder coated surfaces if you use the same water. Use filtered water only for this purpose. Low pressure should be used for pressure-cleaning powder coated surfaces. If the pressure is strong enough to cause the metal surface to shift its position, it may also the strong enough to damage the finish.

4. Use a Mild Soap and Water. All powder coated products should be cleaned with either a soft cloth or a brush, using a solution of mild soap and warm water. The best type of soap to use for this purpose is one that has emulsifiers that can break down the most common types of stains. Exposed surfaces of powder coated products that are deemed the most critical should be cleaned regularly (on either a weekly or a bi-weekly schedule). These can be wiped down and rinsed with filtered water.

5. A Word About Commercial Cleaning Solutions. Commercial cleaning solutions have their place. Solvents and petroleum-based cleaning products are very effective at removing dirt and grease from surfaces. They are not the right choice for powder coated surfaces, however. These types of cleaners will remove dirt, but they also remove layers of the finish from the surface of the object they are cleaning. Over time, the finish can become compromised. The coating can become stiff and hard with repeated applications of these types of cleaners, and it will no longer be as effective at protecting the underlying surface. In some instances, the coating may begin to crack and fade. While it’s inevitable that coated surfaces that are exposed to the weather will undergo physical aging, exposure to harsh chemical products will only accelerate this process.

6. Protect the Exposed Surfaces With Wax. Finished surfaces that will be handled or may come into contact with other objects will benefit from being treated with wax. Examples of these types of surfaces include the following:
• Fences
• Guardrails
• Handrails
• Outdoor furniture
• Outdoor lighting fixtures
• Stairways
• Windows
• Doors
Apply a light coating of high-grade non-abrasive car wax. Use a brand that contains a UV blocker or UV inhibitors. Do not use compound-type waxes for this purpose. This type of wax contains abrasives that can harm the powder coating. Be sure to wipe off any globs of wax that remain on the surface. If any wax remains on the coated surface, it could bake into place when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light. This can cause permanent staining. Tips for Caring for Powder Coated material Powder coating is a very durable finish, but you can’t get away with treating it as though it doesn’t need any maintenance at all. Certain weather conditions can have a negative effect on the coating over time, for example. When dirt and grime builds up in the joints and crevices , it can create a place where bacteria gather and insects find a home. Both circumstances only serve to speed up the breakdown of the coating. In coastal areas, salt water can damage fences and gates situated close to the ocean. If they are not thoroughly cleaned at least once a year to remove the build-up, salt will remain attached to the coating and dull its appearance, leaving it looking chalky. To extend the life of your fence and gate, you’ll need to make sure you clean it properly.

➢ Start by wiping the surface gently with a wet sponge to remove any loose dirt and debris. You can also use a soft brush for this purpose. A wire brush would be too harsh, since it would also remove the finish. Your goal is to remove most of the surface dirt and dust at this point.
➢ To remove salt and any other deposits from the surface of the fence and gate, use a soft brush and a mild household detergent.
➢ Choose a detergent that is free from both solvents and petroleum-based chemicals when cleaning your powder-coated fence. One way to tell whether the detergent you are considering is safe for a powder-coated surface is whether the product is safe for your hands. If you need to protect your skin by wearing gloves when using the product, it’s probably not safe for the surface of the gate, either.
➢ Rinse the detergent off the fence or the gate using lukewarm water. At this point, you can allow it to either dry naturally or use a clean, dry cloth to dry it off if you would like to get a cleaner look.