Powder Coating | Four Things To Consider When Making The Switch From Wet Paint

For businesses that are looking to build the best products while simultaneously optimizing production and minimizing costs, it’s important to analyze every aspect of your supply chain. In the metal fabrication industry, the two most used methods to apply a color finish to metal product surfaces are liquid paint and powder coating. When it comes to metal fabrication, people may not be aware of some differences between wet paint and powder coating. Both provide color, texture, and durability to a product, but what other factors should you consider when deciding whether to switch from wet paint to powder coating?

liquid painting

1) Durability

Whichever coating you decide to use is meant to protect the underlying metal from corrosion and allow the product to better withstand the effects of the elements it is exposed to. For products that require a high level of durability, especially those that are used in industrial applications, powder coating is most often the preferred method. 

In the powder coating process, powder particles are fed electrostatically into a spray gun, which heats and sprays the powder on the surface of the underlying product’s metal substrate. The result is a thicker, more even finish that better adheres to the metal. The process creates a more durable “baked-on” finish that is resistant to abrasion, corrosion, scratches, and long-term pressure. 

Powder coating provides a better layer of protection than is attainable with wet paint. Prior to powder coating, the metal product is cleaned and pre-treated with chemicals to prepare it for the electrostatic heat coating process. The pre-treating step adds an additional layer of protection from abrasion, corrosion, rust, and wear, as it seals out moisture and harmful chemicals that can cause damage.

This extra durability also means that the color of the coating will last longer. Exposure to sunlight and other elements causes a product’s metal finish to fade. Wet paint is prone to fading more quickly than powder coating, also affects the rate of corrosion. Powder coating again takes the lead in preventing moisture and other chemicals from eating away at the underlying metal.

2) Efficiency

Liquid paint requires the metal surface to be spotless, sanded, and primed. The paint is applied at high pressure with a sprayer in thin coats. There is a wait time before an additional coat can be applied to achieve a consistent and smooth finish. Unlike liquid paint, powder coating requires no sanding or priming. Powder coating is applied in one thick coat. There is additional preparation or wait time.

3) Cost

One of the most frequently asked questions we get from our customers when talking about different coating options is regarding the cost. Naturally, when you’re considering switching out some component of your production, you want to know how it’s going to affect your bottom line. In general, the cost differential to the customer between opting for wet paint and powder coating is relatively small.

The labor associated with the application of powder can add some cost, as it requires specific tools to apply the powder through a special process. However, much of the process can be automated, which reduces labor costs. Additionally, since powder coating materials are non-hazardous materials, there are no hazardous waste disposal costs. 

The one way we’ve been able to work with our customers to lower the cost of powder coat application is by employing a slightly more manual process, which allows us to have a quicker changeover time. This gives us more flexibility when we run our jobs, allowing us to do shorter runs of colors more efficiently. We’ve also worked with customers to supply discounts for repeatable schedules. Customers can drop off their parts on the same day each week, allowing us to block off time in our schedule specifically for their parts, providing cost benefits for both of us.

4) Environmental Impact & Safety

A final thing to consider between wet paint and powder coating is the impact on the environment. Wet paint contains Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) that can be toxic if inhaled in large quantities. Certain states have regulations against VOC’s which makes it something to be aware of depending on where your products are sold. Powder coating, on the other hand, is environmentally friendly with no VOC’s or other solvents used in its production or application.

Wet paint is highly flammable, so it must be stored carefully away from heat. Powder coating, however, can be store on regular shelving.

powder coating vs wet paint

How Does Wet Paint Stack Up Against Powder Coating?

Both wet paint and powder coating will provide a protective layer for your metal components. Wet paint is applied in very thin coats, where powder coating is better suited to thicker coats. Both processes have little difference in terms of cost.

Advantages of Wet Paint

  • Wet paint has been around for a long time, while powder coating is relatively new.
  • Wet paint has a slight advantage when it comes to color matching. 
  • Wet paint can be applied to fabric, metals, rubber, or wood surfaces. Whereas powder coating is used only with metal surfaces.

Advantages of Powder Coating

  • Powder coating Is known to be more durable than wet paint, meaning it keeps its color and provides better protection against corrosion, which is of utmost importance for industrial uses. 
  • Powder coating is a more efficient process, requiring fewer steps and less wait time, so the product can be delivered faster.
  • Powder coating Is more environmentally friendly than wet paint.

If you have questions or want to better understand how we can work with you to optimize your coating process, please feel free to reach out.

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We proudly serve the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. It only takes a minute! Select the service you’d like, upload your designs, and a member of our team will respond with a free quote as soon as possible. If you don’t have design mockups, or need some help figuring out a design, we’d love to help! Simply give us a call and a member of our team would be happy to answer any questions you have.

Lead Time

3 days

Parts Completed


Manufacturing Footprint

55,000 sq ft.

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