When to Powder Coat Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is an excellent material for many building interior and exterior projects. The stainless element is a mix of alloys that makes the steel strong and corrosion-resistant, and the polished silver-shine finish of stainless steel looks good in many commercial settings. However, with powder-coated stainless steel as a rising commercial trend, many businesses are now considering a more complete set of options.

When is the right time to powder coat stainless steel? Depending on your design and location, the benefits of powder coating your stainless steel structures and fixtures range from long-term branding to immersive venue branding. Minnesota Industrial Coatings can provide the expert insight and service you need regarding powder coating stainless steel.

Why Powder Coat Stainless Steel?

Powder Coat Stainless Steel: Process of powder coating wheels

Stainless steel is a strong, corrosion-resistant, and versatile material. Powder-coating is electrostatically applied pigment and polymer. It is flexible, durable, and can be blended in every possible color. Why combine the two?

Vivid Color and Design Freedom

bicycle wheels colorful on the wall

There is no argument that an immersively branded venue is more compelling for customers and employees. Stainless steel is elegant and useful, but many brands prefer to enrich their indoor and outdoor fixtures with brand colors. Powder coating can be blended for any tone on the color wheel and various finishes. This allows brands to create decorative or color-guided venues with a coating that can remain flawless for years.

Compared to painting your steel fixtures, powder coating does not contain high VOCs or chemical solvents and does not crack over time.

Highly Corrosive Environments

Metal structure of railway bridge

Stainless steel is corrosion-resistant but not corrosion-proof. If you are seaside or in an otherwise moist and stormy environment, outdoor stainless steel will eventually rust. Powder coating can significantly extend the life of your outdoor metal fixtures and structures by forming a complete plastic seal around the steel. Unlike paint, powder coating does not crack and will not form a breach unless damaged by fairly significant impacts or cuts. Powder coating is flexible and can remain intact and rust-free over dents and most bends.

Powder coating is the modern long-term topcoat solution if you are placing metal outside in a highly corrosive environment.

Select Surface Finish or Texture

In addition to color choice, powder coating can provide a different finish from the stainless steel base or typical paint. You can achieve some amount of texture and optical illusion with powder coating and transparency layered colors. This gives brands a far greater palette for indoor and outdoor decoration with sturdy metal fixtures made of stainless steel.

Scratch-Resistance

Sratch-Resistant: Children playground in the park

Stainless steel is built to last but gets scuffed up over time. Powder coating has the benefit of being scuff and scratch resistant due to its polymer nature. This makes it ideal for high-traffic and high-activity areas, from hotel lobbies to parks and playground equipment.

Why Some Stainless Steel Cannot be Powder Coated

Powder coating is applied through the electrostatic spray and then heat-cured to melt, solidify, and harden the polymer blend into a complete coating. However, some of the alloys and pre-treatments that stainless steel undergoes can disrupt this process. This can cause poor electrostatic adhesion during the application process. Fortunately, most stainless steel products can be powder coated, and it is easy to find a market alternative for phosphate pretreated steel and other exceptions.

The Process for Powder Coating Stainless Steel

Surface Cleaning

  • The materials or items are cleaned of oils and dirt to remove impurities between the coating and the metal.

Pickle and Passivate

  • The steel is dipped in mild acid and passivated or “pickled” to remove a thin surface layer of metal. This is like a face peel and takes the entire piece down to a uniform alloy surface – overcoming little imperfections like scratches or welds.

Sandblast Cleaning

  • The last impurity-removing stage is to blast the steel with a spray of fine sand, then cleaned again to remove any sand residue. This also adds a fine texture to the steel, improving surface adhesion.

Electrostatic Prime and Powder-Coat

  • An electrostatic spray gun is used to apply a primer coat and then the powder coating to your stainless steel.

Cure

  • The item is carefully hung and cured in a large oven which melts, unites, and hardens the resin. Correct curing determines the ultimate resistance to corrosion and surface damage.

Can You Tell if the Steel and Powder Coating Bond is Good?

Powder coating of metal parts. A woman in a protective suit sprays white powder paint from a gun on metal products

Yes. Several tests allow us to determine if the electrostatic coat adhesion is good and, after curing, if the surface bond between the metal and powder coating is complete. 

Powder coating quality tests include:

  • Salt Spray Test
  • MEK Rub Test
  • Color Match
  • Gloss Measurement
  • Coat Thickness

Why Powder Coat Your Stainless Steel Structures and Fixtures?

Powder coating is an excellent way to upgrade stainless steel in appearance and durability. Stainless steel can perform best outdoors when powder-coated against the elements, and brands can take full control of venue design with every color palette to choose from. If your commercial construction, design, or production includes powder-coated stainless steel, Minnesota Industrial Coatings is your large-scale powder coating source. Contact us today to discuss your order needs and perfect your venue design.

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