As we've grown our offering over the last decade, some of the materials we've tested have made their way into our standard product offering, while others have proven to be a poor fit. Durability, maintenance, cost, and sustainable sourcing are primary concerns, however every project and geography has its own unique requirements like wind resistance, heat retention, or damage from the salt content of the local atmosphere -- and those are just concerns related to construction and materials. Material Monday is a series exploring the materials we work with, why we choose to use them, and how they contribute to a sustainable future.
Material Monday 01: Powder Coating
By nature of working with steel, many of our earliest designs were made for the outdoors. Steel's durability and lifespan make it a great candidate for both commercial and residential environments, and having started RAD in Austin, Texas - a city not lacking in restaurant patios and outdoor venues - we found endless opportunity for product testing and feedback from the homeowners and businesses using our products day-to-day. Powder coating is the industry standard for good reason, but what exactly is it?
It's important to first establish why this matters. Metal can rust if exposed to water or moisture, and rust causes metal to corrode. The surface finish protects the metal from corrosion only as long as the finish remains intact, which is why a durable finish plays a crucial role in protecting your furniture for years to come.
Powder coating is a mixture of curatives, pigments, leveling agents, flow modifiers, and other additives, which are mixed, cooled, and ground into a uniform powder similar in texture to flour. When met with an electrostatic charge, the powder particles are attracted to grounded metal, a process called Electrostatic Spray Deposition (ESD). The coating chemically reacts to heat in a curing oven, a process which produces long molecular chains with high cross-link density, meaning the coating is highly resistant to breakdown. The entire curing process is completed in 20 minutes or less, and because the coating isn't a liquid, there is no risk of a visual difference between horizontal and vertical surfaces due to pooling or dripping.
While 65-70% of sprayed paint particles dissipate into the atmosphere during application, only 30-40% of powder coating particles are lost during ESD, and they can be collected and put to use in the next cycle. As such, the particles are recyclable, toxin-free, and do not release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) whether used or unused, making the process safer for the people involved and for our environment.
Due to the chemical change that powder coating undergoes during the curing process, the polymer is more resistant to diminished quality due to heavy use, moisture, chemicals, UV light, and extreme weather conditions. While its superior resistance to scratches and chipping is important to maintaining the appearance of your furniture, those issues can also leave your furniture vulnerable to rust, so the durability of the coating protects your furniture's structural integrity, too. Though powder coating is subject to a reasonable degree of wear over time, your furniture can be easily re-coated indefinitely, either for maintenance or for purely aesthetic reasons.
Powder coating is made of particles that mix, which is to say that colors can't be customized to the same level of specificity as paint. That being said, RAD has access to hundreds of powder coat colors, and there is no minimum order quantity (or MOQ) to select a custom color of your choice.
Need a place to start? Every product page lists our available powder coat colors. If you'd like to know more about selecting a custom color, submit a quote request for the item you're interested in, and let us know in the notes which color you'd prefer. Or, contact us here and let us know how we can help.