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A powder-coated aluminum fence offers a variety of colors and will stand up to unseasonably warm and damp weather.

Communities throughout the Midwest, East and South have seen temperature records shattered as unseasonably warm, moist weather has prevailed in the approach to Christmas. Wood fencing can succumb over time to fence rot from moisture in humid locales, but this is not an issue with aluminum fencing. This is particularly true of powder-coated aluminum fences, which perform noticeably better than their painted counterparts.

Powder-coated fencing comes in a variety of colors and finishes. Glossy finishes can be found in sandstone, hunter green, black, white, bronze and gold, for example, while flat finishes come in natural colors such as bronze, khaki, black and white. The advantage to all these powder-coated finishes is in their superior resistance to weather. In particular, powder-coated finishes resist corrosion, offering ratings of at least 7 on scribe or cut edges and minimum blister ratings of 8 by the ASTM D 1654 standard.

Powder Coating: The Basics

Powder coating is the application of multiple layers of color as a dry, free-flowing powder. The powder is applied by an electrostatic process and is then heat-cured to form a smooth, strong skin over the aluminum fencing.

Powder coating adheres to aluminum better than other types of coatings. It is essentially immune to rusting, even when subjected to extreme cold or brutal heat. It will maintain its color and finish even against salt and humidity.

Besides its practical and esthetic advantages, powder coating is more beneficial to the environment. Less energy is used in the powder coating process compared to other coatings. In addition, waste materials from powder coating can be recycled or disposed of in a way that is not harmful to the environment.

Powder coating is also less harmful to the people who apply it. Liquid spray paints can emit carcinogens during application, which is not the case with powder coating. In addition, liquid paint necessitates the use of a solvent to maintain binders and fillers in liquid form. Solvents can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can endanger both workers and the environment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Powder coating is dry during application, which means it emits far less of these materials.

What to Look for in a Powder-Coated Fence

Several parameters identify the key properties of a powder-coated aluminum fence.

The paint film thickness is a basic indicator of quality and durability. Look for a dry film thickness of at least 0.8 mils.

Specular gloss is a measure of shininess or how well the material reflects light. Low gloss measures 19 or less, medium gloss is 20-79, and high gloss is 80 or more.

Dry film hardness measures resistance to permanent deformation. An ASTM score of H is typical. Look for a score of F to indicate a more durable level of hardness.

Adhesion indicates how well a coating adheres to the surface. There should be no failure when measuring dry, wet and boiling water adhesion. The coating should see no removal of film from the substrate due to impact. A good benchmark for abrasion resistance is an abrasion coefficient of at least 20.

A coating should not blister when it is exposed to chemicals such as window cleaners or detergents. A superior coating will show very few blisters after 3,000 hours of exposure to humidity and salt spray.