Powder coating, despite its prevalence in so many places, is still relatively unknown to many people and of those who are aware of it, it can seem like a specialist and costly method of colouring and protecting metal structures. Therefore many people carry on buying bare metal elements, such as fences, slides and swings, and paint them on a regular basis in order to protect the metal from corroding.
Powder coating has a lot to offer over traditional methods of protecting metal, including painting. If two pieces of metal were to be put side by side it would be relatively simple to tell which one had been powder coated and which one had been painted. The sign is the uniformity of the finish. A piece of metal that is powder coated is cleaned and treated before the coating is applies so there is absolutely no debris in between the metal and the coating. When painting a piece of metal there are likely to be various bits of dirt present on the structure, which will then affect the adhesion of the paint in that area.
There will also never be drip marks on a powder coated piece of metal. The reason for this is that the powder coating is applied in, obviously, a powder form through attracting it with an electrostatic charge on the metal. This controls the thickness of the layer very precisely and so there can be no areas where the coating is thicker or thinner than the rest. When painting a piece of metal there is little control over the thickness of the paint layer, and it is also very prone to dripping, which actually creates points of weakness in the surface, which are likely to be points of failure in the coating later on leading to localised corrosion of the underlying metal in that location.
It may be thought that because of the specialised process required to powder coat something that the colours available will be limited. This is definitely not true and just about any colour can be used as long as it exists in a powdered format compatible with being fired in an oven. Many playgrounds now use powder coated structures for several reasons. The first is that powder coating provides a tough and hard-wearing surface that is also brightly coloured. The coating process also means that the coating will not start to flake as it gets older, as with paint. Therefore there will be no sharp paint splinters to come off in small hands, or rusty areas of metalwork to stain hands and clothes. Even if a powder coat does get damaged the damage will not spread however any exposed metal will be susceptible to beginning to corrode.
It is not just playgrounds that benefit from this coating technology. There are many other types of structure that also utilise this technique including both domestic and industrial fences, bus shelters and train stations, sport stadiums in many areas, including seats and the metal seating framework. By powder coating them, the maintenance requirements drop significantly over the lifetime of the structure.