What is powder coating and is it good for wheels?
Powder coating is paint that bakes in an oven to flow out and harden to a beautiful smooth finish.
If you’re reading this article, it means you’re already more aware than most consumers in the automotive industry. You’re doing your research instead of jumping on board with some new trend that’s going around on social media (remember Plastic Dip? Yes that’s one of the trends I’m referring to.)
Powder coating has been around since 1945 and isn’t going anywhere, making it ANYTHING BUT A TREND. Why is this important? Because you are investing money in restoring your wheels or other parts and want to make sure your investment isn’t wasted on some cheap paint that will fail prematurely.
Powder coating is applied to a clean metal surface, ideally but not always media blasted. We use specialized equipment that charges the paint powder electrostatically in order to be deposited onto the metal parts correctly and in the manufacturer recommended thickness. The parts are then placed in an oven for a baking cycle varying between 30min and an hour depending on type of metal, size and weight. The curing cycle is closely monitored by our specialists to respect the manufacturer recommended time and temperature deltas. This ensures consistent results that look and perform beautifully.
Is powder coating safe for alloy wheels?
YES, we take great care to closely monitor curing temperatures and in special cases, Porsche Fuchs come to mind, where the wheels are made of an alloy that is rich in magnesium, we can use specially formulated powders that cure at lower temps to make sure your project is safe.
In general, most wheels are made of some sort of aluminum alloy. Aluminum has a melting temperature between 800 and 1200 def F, depending on alloys and our powder cure between 350 and 400 deg F, so there is PLENTY of safety margin.
We have clients who use their powder coated wheels in different racing cars from Porsche GT3 race cars to Audi RS3 drag racing monsters and we are glad to say no unfortunate incidents involving our wheels were reported.
Why is powder coating better than other types of paints and finishes?
- Powder coating contains no solvents and cures without emitting any VOCs into our atmosphere, this might not seem like a big deal if you’re not interested in protecting our environment, but you should know that big cities such as Montreal, take these matters seriously and impose difficult standards on businesses in our industry. MOST of the other shops offering wheel painting, unless being licensed Auto Body Shops, DO NOT operate under complete legality, which allows them to undercut our prices. Please don’t support these types of business practices.
- Powder coatings are more durable, thicker and in most cases more pleasing to look at than liquid paints and rubber coatings such as Plasti Dip. Our experience allows us to obtain smooth results even in the shiniest coatings which are notorious for creating “orange peel”. Have a look at any of our Mirror Black wheels and compare for yourself.
- Powder coatings are more flexible therefore PERFECT your wheels which are subjected to impacts transferred from the road. These impacts cause the alloys to flex and if the paint didn’t adhere properly or isn’t flexible enough, we see chipping and peeling.
- There are hundreds of colors and finishes to choose from. If you need help, I will personally offer advice and opinion based on thousands of wheels I coated, to help you match the new color to that of your vehicle.
- We offer special primers for corrosion resistance that outperform solvent based primers and can get into tight corners such as subframes, and other stamped steel suspension components
Stay away from Plastic Dip and other cheap paints!
We can’t state this enough, it is a trend that’s thankfully disappearing, but has caused major damage to our industry. Sure the prices you see on Facebook Marketplace for some “certified” applicator using a 80$ spray system from Home Depot, might appeal to you at first and YES it is convenient not having to remove the wheels from your car, and yes they have Black that looks OK at first but you know what they say about things that are too good to be true.
Our experience and that of the hundreds of clients calling and coming in to the shop with wheels that were previously coated in Plastic Dip is a negative one. The coatings fail by peeling at the edges where they are thinner, the application is inconsistent often has a cheap rubbery look and feel, pores and solvent contamination are frequently found. BTW, yes I do know that’s not how the company name is spelled but I’m not targeting anyone in particular as there are many of these sprays available made by different companies.