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Can wood be powder coated?

Posted on: October 29th, 2017 by byersbushblog

Did you know that the advancements in the technology used in powder coating even heat sensitive substrates can be coated? Unlike a few years ago, a variety of materials and products can now be subjected to powder coating.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is one of the biggest beneficiaries of these technological breakthroughs because despite its homogenous surface and low porosity, it can still be powder coated. How good is it?

How to Powder Coat Wood at Home

powder coat wood at home

When it comes to powder coating natural wood, it is important to point out that there is really still much to be desired. This is because the technology has not been fully developed yet so the final product may not be as you envisioned.

But, this does not mean that you cannot powder coat wood. In fact, you can even carry out the powder coating at home. You need to keep in mind the temperature limitations though as wood will begin to char at around 180 to 200 degrees.

Natural wood also has some amounts of moisture so this has to be evaporated to avoid the appearance of bubbles or craters appearing on the final film coating. To have substantial success in powder coating wood, it is essential to rely on low temperature powder coating using UV or IR curing.

Currently there are limited ways to powder coat wood at home. One of the easier ways is to use wood primer to increase the conductivity. This liquid is conventionally sprayed for conductivity purposes only.

The other method which has been mentioned earlier is low cure coating or what is called UV curing. With this method, you will need a photinitiator for the powder to cure. You can avoid charring if you stick to coatings that cure at around 100 degrees. Curing of the natural wood should be done using IR or UV oven to remove the humidity.

Powder Coating on Wood Surface

powder coating on wood surface

How do you powder coat an MDF board and maintain its integrity? This can normally be achieved by combining infrared and convection heat. The truth is that the process is not that easy. Many wood products like kitchen cabinets will not react the same way that steel cabinets do when powder coated.

There is a real possibility of the wood warping or cracking. It is likewise possible to see the fibers rising to the surface. Because heat is not conducted properly, the wood failed achieved uniform heating and outgassed. The various shapes and sizes of the wood added to the complication.

The problematic heating process resulted in under cured, uneven, and ultimately unacceptable finished products. Powder coating wood and similar heat sensitive materials needed a different approach. This gave rise to the development of a new oven, designed for powder coating wood.

This approach hoped to resolve the inconsistencies in moisture level, density, porosity, and heat distortion among others. Taking all these factors into account and the advances in low temperature powder coating curing made it possible to hurdle the problems and come out with beautifully coated MDF products.

It is important to point out that this is a delicate process that needs sufficient planning and attention to get the right results. Keep in mind that there are four main parameters that will impact the final quality of the MDF coat:

  1. Nature of the MDF;
  2. Application line;
  3. Product specification; and
  4. Powder quality.

Misconceptions About Powder Coated Wood

misconceptions about powder coated wood

Perhaps because of its nature, there are a couple of misconceptions that have arisen when it comes to powder coating wood. What are some of these?

  • Lacks Durability – there is a misconception that powder coated MDF does not have as durable a finish as those of steel product. This is in terms of resistance to stain, abrasion, and impact. Regardless of the standard that you use to measure these, the reality is that when it comes to MDF, powder coating provides one of the most durable finishes with 5 to 7 mils of bonded coverage depending on the finishing style used. Even custom powder can be manufactured to create UV or direct heat resistant finishes.
  • Not Cost Effective – the belief is that for powder coating wood to be cost effective it has to be done in large quantities. The truth is that powder coating costs are affected by changes in colors and not the parts. So regardless of the number of parts, a single powder formulation will effective coat any shape once it is sprayed onto it. The great thing is that there will be no loss in efficiency.
  • Limited Selection of Colors and Gloss – just because you are using MDF does not mean that the color choices and gloss levels will be limited. Creating custom formulations based on your preferences is still available. The advantage with powder coating is that color matching is relative easy to do. Even gloss levels can be accurately maintained across parts.
  • Easy to Do – it is expected that the principles for coating metal is the same for coating wood. This is not necessarily the case because treating wood requires not only skills, but also experience to come out with the desired finished product. So is powder coating wood something you can do at home? Yes, but if you want high quality finish, leave the job to experienced specialists.
  • Low Cost Finish – the notion is that wood powder coating is similar to any other type of low cost wood finish. This was true during the early stages of the technology because a lot of imperfections appeared on the products. The reality today is that wood powder coating is not a low cost solution, but rather, a high quality, durable, and aesthetically pleasing coating. Its price is matched by the value that it delivers.
  • All the Same – no, not all powder coted wood finishes are the same. Depending on the skills and experience of the service provider, you will spot noticeable differences not only in the quality of the final finish, but also in the way that it is applied.

Powder coaters that have in-house coating capability can improve the quality of the finish because they are able to tightly control the moisture content of the wood. This also allows them to minimize the time spent between cutting and coating. The right service provider can also ensure that the wood is prepared and sanded properly to come out with the best coating finish possible.

So if you want to get the best out of wood powder coating, trust Byers Bush Powder Coating to do the job.

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