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Paint or Powder Coat

Is paint or powder coating better on a trailer frame or body?

Throughout the 30 years we’ve been in business, we’ve carried a variety of steel-frame trailer products that have come with either painted steel frames or powder coated frames. We often get the question from customers when comparing different products; which one is better? Unfortunately there is no definitive answer, as there are advantages and disadvantages of each. Whether your shopping for a painted or powder coated trailer, the quality of the finish and durability is going to rely on the manufacturers process. Prep is the most important step of the process, and requires the bare metal be totally free of oxidation, oils from manufacturing, and any other solvents that would prevent good adhesion of the primer coat. If the process is done right from prep to finish and the materials being used are of top quality, both paint and powder coating should leave you with a fine finish that will last years.

- On a painted trailer, If you scratch the finish it is fairly easy to find a color match and touch-up the area. You can even find aerosol primers if the scratch makes it down to bare metal, and clear coats for giving the repaired area a like-new finish. Keeping up on scratches on a regular basis before rust can form will keep your trailer looking new for years to come. Paint is usually a thinner finish than powder coating and will scratch easier, but the ease of repair and ability to match colors and finishes makes repairs much simpler.

- Powder coat is not easily repaired, and will have to be primed and painted the same way you would repair a painted trailer. It is more difficult to get the repaired area to match the original powder coated finish. The most important thing to remember is that while it may be harder to scratch a powder coated trailer, you need to make an immediate repair to prevent the oxidation of the metals from spreading, as this can work it’s way between the metal and the powder coating and then the powder coating will start to flake off in larger pieces. Once this starts you need to sand away all the powder coating until you reach an area where it is still well-bonded to the metal, and apply a paint repair to a larger surface area.

Fun Fact

  - Believe it or not: in high-volume manufacturing, most companies choose to powder coat their trailers because it ends up being less costly for them. The powder coating process allows “overspray” to be reclaimed and re-used rather than lost such as in the painting process. The powder coating process also electrostatically applies the primer agent to the steel chassis which is grounded, causing an even-layer to be applied throughout and shedding material automatically where it may have been applied too heavily.