Powder Coat vs. Paint
Powder Coat vs. Spray Paint: Differences in Durability, Cost & More


Powder coating and spray painting both provide excellent protection but it’s difficult to determine which one is best for certain circumstances. While there are many similarities between the two, they both have drawbacks and limiting factors. Here, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of both and the best applications of each method.

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Difference Between Powder Coat & Paint

While both protect from the elements and corrosion, there are more differences than similarities.

Spray Paint

Powder Coat

Moderate durability but can be touched up

Extreme durability but cannot be touched up

Wet application

Dry application

Done on-site

Done off-site at a specialty shop

For all surface types – cured at room temp

Only high-temp objects – cured in an oven at 380 F or above

24 hours until usable

4 days minimum with shipping

Higher waste with overspray

Low waste

Low to moderate environmental impact

Low environmental impact

What is Powder Coating?

Powder coating uses an oven-cured dry powder to provide a thick, highly-durable coating for metal and other high-temperature resistant objects such as a fence, appliance face or deck furniture. The parts require disassembly and shipping because it is done offsite at a specialty shop.

Spray Painting

Painting uses a wet finish sprayed or electrostatically applied in a thin coat for both corrosion protection and appearance. Usually done on-site, it requires masking for overspray and curing times of up to 24 hours.

What is Powder Coating Spray Paint?

Professionals use two different processes for powder coating – electrostatic spray and fluidized bed dipping. Both methods require high temperatures and use a dry powder but come with some minor differences.

Differences Between Powder Coat Methods

Electrostatic Spray

Fluidized Vat or Bed

Metal only

Metal & high-temp plastics

Better for thin applications

Better for medium to thick applications

Oven cured after application

Preheated before dipping with oven cure after

  • Spray methods electrostatically charge the powder and objects. Objects are suspended and coated by a fine, low-pressure mist. The electrostatic charge attracts the powder to the object. Then, the piece cures in an oven to give it a lasting finish.
  • Fluidized beds use a large vat with air pumped up through the bottom to fluidize the dry powder. Objects are then preheated and dipped. The longer the dip, the thicker the coat. Most parts require additional oven curing as the final step.
Hire a Powder Coating Professional

Powder Coating vs. Painting

Powder Coat

Painting

Durability

  • Most durable finish available
  • Moderate strength
  • Depends on number of layers and type of paint.

Moisture & Rust Resistance

  • Extremely high resistance to corrosion
  • High resistance to corrosion
  • Requires more upkeep

Material Cost

  • Included in application costs
  • DIY Kits run $100-$200
  • $15-$50+ per gallon

Application Cost

  • $50-$600 per piece.
  • $25-$100 per hour

Better for DIYers

  • Limited DIY kits available
  • Requires practice and space
  • Difficult to correct mistakes
  • DIY friendly with many equipment options
  • Requires less space and experience
  • Easy to correct mistakes

Environmental Friendliness

  • Low VOCs
  • Almost no waste
  • VOCs depend on paint type
  • 20%-50% waste with overspray

Maintenance & Length of Life

  • Low maintenance
  • 7-15 years depending on surface prep and powder type.
  • Moderate maintenance depending on the surface
  • 5-10 years depending on the substrate material.

Best Uses

  • High-use metal and high-temp objects
  • All surface types


Both have strengths and weaknesses while performing better under different circumstances. Here we’re comparing powder coats to standard paints. We’ll get into specialty paints like hardened enamels and electrostatic painting later.

Durability

Powder Coat
Pros

  • Extreme durability
  • Great for fencing, deck furniture, railings, and even some indoor appliances.

Cons

  • Not able to touch it up without stripping and redoing.

Paint
Pros

  • Able to apply extra coats for increased durability and for objects that require a very thin layer.

Cons

  • Though layering is possible, it’s not as durable for high-use projects.

Toughest & Most Durable: Powder Coat

Moisture & Rust Resistance

Powder Coat
Pros

  • Once completed, they are impervious to corrosion.

Cons

  • Improper preparation causes early failure which includes chipping and cracking. Once this happens, corrosion is quick to follow. You’ll then need to strip and reapply it.

Paint
Pros

  • Provides excellent moisture and corrosion protection when applied correctly and maintained.
Cons

  • Requires more upkeep.

Better Corrosion Resistance: Tie

Cost

Powder Coat
  • $50-$600 per piece
  • Materials included in application cost

Paint
  • Materials: $15-$50+ per gallon
  • Labor: $20-$100 per hour

Winner: Tie - Depends on Application

Better for DIYers

Powder Coat

While great for the hobbyist, is best left to the professionals for bigger projects as mistakes are tough to fix and the cost can quickly add up.

  • Pros:
    • Affordable DIY kits are available that include guns, ovens, and powders.
    • DIY kits range anywhere from $100 to $200 but are only useful for small objects.
    • Best for small projects like door handles and car engine parts.
  • Cons:
    • Easy to make mistakes and tough to redo.
    • Need large ovens for large objects, increasing equipment investment and space required.
    • Requires extreme detail during surface preparation.
Paint

Though painting can make a great DIY project, it can quickly turn into a disaster without the right preparation, materials or experience.

  • Pros:
    • Easy to do with rental equipment making even large projects accessible to DIYers.
    • Mistakes are relatively easy to correct.
  • Cons:
    • Requires a longer time investment in preparation and cleanup.
Best DIY Option: Paint
Consult with a Pro when choosing a paint

Environmental Friendliness

Powder Coating
Pros

  • Almost zero waste as any over-sprayed powder is collected and reused.
  • Almost zero VOCs.

Cons

  • Reused powders make color matching difficult.

Paint
Pros

  • Low VOC paints and options with lower environmental impacts exist.

Cons

  • Overspray and fumes mean it always has a higher environmental impact.

Best Environmental Option: Powder Coat

Maintenance & Length of Life

Powder Coat
Pros

  • Excellent length of life when applied properly.
  • Very low-maintenance.

Cons

  • Nearly impossible to touch up — requires a complete strip and redo when it begins to fail.

Paint
Pros

    • Easy to redo and touch up small spots.

Cons

  • Requires consistent upkeep for maximum durability and look.

Lower Maintenance: Tie

Best Uses

Powder Coat

They can only be used on items that can resist the high temperatures of the curing process. Because of its incredible durability, it’s best used on high-use and high-traffic metal objects.

  • Outdoor objects — Metal fences, railings, handles, deck, and patio furniture.
  • Appliances with metal parts — range hoods, fixtures.

Paint

Because you apply paint at room temperature and on-site to almost any surface type, it is convenient for virtually any object.

  • Outdoor — siding, decks
  • Indoor — ceilings, walls, trim

Electrostatic Painting vs. Powder Coating

Electrostatic Paint

Powder

Applied on-site or in a shop with wet paint

Always done in a shop with dry methods

Thinner layer

Thicker layer

Moderate durability

The most durable finish available

No heat required to finish

Uses a heated curing process above 385 degrees

Few texture options

Textured surfaces available

Wide range of color choices

Tough to color match

Both use electrostatically charged particles and metal objects to evenly layered for durability and low waste.

Plasti-Dip vs. Powder Coat vs. Spray Paint

Plasti-Dip

Paint

Powder Coat

Durability

Low

Moderate

High

Cost

Lowest

Moderate

Highest

Lifespan (in years)

1-3

5-10

7-20

DIY Friendly

Yes

Yes

No

Uses

Limited

Flexible

Limited

Plasti-Dip

Plasti-dip is an aerosolized rubber finish that cures to a semi-hardened finish.

  • Pros:
    • Cheap and DIY friendly.
    • Protective finish.
    • Easy to remove.
    • Rubberized texture for gripped surfaces like handles.
  • Cons:
    • Lasts 1 to 3 years.
    • Very Thick.
    • Few color options.
    • Hard to remove.
    • Easy to gouge and chip.
Powder Coat
  • Pros:
    • Extremely durable.
    • Textured finishes available.
    • Last up to 20 years or more.
  • Cons:
    • Tough to remove.
    • Can’t touch up.
Paint
  • Pros:
    • Flexible uses on many surfaces.
    • Easy to touch up.
    • Lasts 5 to 10 years.
  • Cons:
    • Few textured options.
    • Not as durable.
    • Higher maintenance needs.
Hire a Painting Professional

E-Coating or Powder Coating

E-coat refers to using a water-based solution that contains a paint emulsion. Electric voltage passed through the solution causes the paint to attach to the metal in an even layer. Just like with powder coating, you’ll finish the object in a curing oven.

It’s a better choice when covering an object that requires a thinner protective shell with tough-to-reach areas. For example, the hinges on a door require clearance to move correctly. A thick layer stops it from functioning.

Baked Enamel vs. Powder Coat

Powder Coat

Baked Enamel

Slightly tougher finish

Tough finish

Evenly applied

Shows runs and brush strokes

Thicker

Thinner

A type of wet paint, baked enamel uses high temps to cure it for a more durable finish.

Despite the differences, both products rely heavily on the pretreatment of the object, the type of resins used, the quality of the product and the quality of the professional applying it. A high-quality enamel applied correctly to a properly prepared substrate is better than an incorrectly-done powder coat – and the same applies in reverse.

Chrome Powder Coating versus Chrome Plating

Chrome powder coating is a process of adding a chrome-like finish to a metal part. Typically done to engines and other car parts, it provides a protective finish at a rate 70 to 90 percent cheaper than plating.

However, it doesn’t perfectly replicate an actual chrome, or chromium, plating process. If you’re looking to restore a classic car or historic home to its original condition, opt for chrome plating.

Get a Quote From a Powder Coating Pro


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