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What is the difference between Powder Coating vs. Liquid Paint

Our customers often ask us about the difference between Powder Coating and Liquid Paint.

There are two primary types of coatings: (1) Powder Coatings and (2) Liquid Coatings. Powder Coating is paint that starts in powder form and is baked to form a very durable protective and decorative coating. You often see metal (e.g. bicycles, appliances) finished with Powder Coating. Whereas a Liquid Coating starts as a liquid that either dries via exposure to air or a chemical catalyst. Each has advantages for manufacturers and oftentimes both are needed.

Powder Coated Machine Parts - MyPerfectColor.com

Powder Coatings are based on polymer resin systems, pigments and other additives which are ground into a powder. The powder is then sprayed onto the parts through an electrostatic process (the powder particles are given an electrical charge which are attracted to the part). The coated part is then baked in an oven which melts the powder into a coating. 

Applying Powder Coat to Machined Parts - MyPerfectColor.com

The Powder Coating is very durable, but if there is an imperfection from the coating process, or if it gets scratched or damaged during fabrication, transportation or installation, then you cannot use the original Powder Coat to touch up the affected area. Unfortunately the part would need to be completely stripped and run through the Powder Coating process again which is very expensive.

Can you use Liquid Paint to touch up Powder Coat?

When Powder Coat gets damaged, a Liquid Paint can be used to touch up the imperfection. Liquid Paints come in a wide variety of types, but when it comes to touch up, you would need something that:

  • matches the color and sheen of the original
  • adheres well to the surface
  • is easy to apply
  • dries quickly, and
  • is durable

An Acrylic Enamel works incredibly well for this purpose, because it meets all the requirements listed above and can also be used for indoor or outdoor applications.

Bicycle Paint Spray Paint Touch Up of Powder Coating - MyPerfectColor.com

Liquid Paints come in a variety of forms. The main differences are the resin systems such as Acrylic, Enamel or Urethanes; the solvent system such as Water- or Solvent-based; and the hardening method such as Air Dry or a Chemical Catalyst. Liquid Paints typically are not as durable as a Powder Coat, but they are usually much less expensive and work great for small run production or when the materials cannot be Powder Coated. The specific type of paint needed would be driven by the project requirements such as durability, substrate, interior or exterior, temperature exposure, color, dry time and cost.

We manufacture a complete line of Custom Spray Paint and Touch Up Paint solutions in more than 200,000 colors as well as Custom Color Matching Services if you need to precisely match the color and sheen of your specific parts. If you have questions about Powder Coat vs Liquid Paint that aren’t answered above, please contact us.