When specifying a choice of finishing and coating for handrails and balustrade, the decision is often framed in purely aesthetic terms. Visual appeal is undoubtedly a significant factor, but it should never be the only one. In many cases, how it feels is just as important as how it looks.
Many relevant questions can come into play. How does it react to sunlight? How well does it conduct temperature? How well does it resist abrasion or corrosion? Is it completely impermeable? Does it contain any toxins? We often discuss these considerations with architects and designers in the context of their projects.
Neaco can offer expertise on the subject as our own range of finishes encompass all areas of performance, including aesthetics. We are advocates of powder coating for handrails and balustrade due to its many advantages as a finish.
HOW IS POWDER COATING APPLIED?
To achieve a powder coated finish, a dry powder is applied electrostatically and baked at a high temperature to cure the powder and cause it to set solid. This process creates a smooth, even coating. Powder coating is an ideal finish for aluminium handrails and balustrade as it bonds to the metal.
POWDER COATED FINISHES VS PAINTED FINISHES
For all sorts of reasons, powder coating is a superior choice of finish in comparison to the most common alternative, spray painting:
It is estimated that around 70% of powder is used in its application and the rest can be collected within the factory for re-use. The electrostatic process reduces waste by around 95%. In contrast, it is estimated that up to 70% of spray paint can be lost during application because any that fails to reach the surface of the handrail/balustrade will disperse into thin air. Powder coating is also a faster and therefore a more productive process: paint may need hours or days to fully dry, whereas powder will fully cure within 20 minutes.
Spray paint can drip, streak and spread unevenly. In contrast, the powder coating process guarantees an even coating with a smooth surface and no trace of application marks.
Powder polymers are inert and therefore contain zero toxins. They emit zero greenhouse gases when applied. In contrast, spray painting releases toxins into the atmosphere. Toxic solvents can be harmful if inhaled, so painting is also less safe as well as less eco-friendly.
Powder coating has higher strength and flexibility than painted finishes. This means that, unlike paint, it won’t crack, flake or peel. If a surface starts to deteriorate in this way, it makes the handrail/balustrade prone to further damage through infiltration of moisture which causes corrosion.
Powder coating is also very resistant to chipping or scratching, so it’s effectively a maintenance-free finish. Most powder coatings also have superior colour retention to paint.
Powder coating has low thermal conductivity. That is often an important quality for handrails and balustrade, especially in external installations. In extreme temperatures, metal can become very hot or cold, affecting its safety and comfort to the touch, so this can be avoided with a protective powder coating which is a poor conductor of temperature.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF POWDER COATING
Having established that powder coating offers many advantages over other common finishes, it’s also worth noting that there are two different types of powder coating which offer their own advantages: nylon and polyester.
We cover their differences in more detail here, but their benefits can be summarised as follows:
- The leading choice for UV resistance and colour stability.
- Easier to apply and can use lower film thicknesses.
- Lower overall coating costs.
- The leading choice for resistance to wear, abrasion and chemicals.
- Can be manufactured from renewable resources.
- Offers more flexibility at low temperatures.
Neaco offer both nylon and polyester powder coating within our range. We can advise the best option for your built environment.
POWDER COATED COLOUR FORMULATION
One of the few advantages offered in favour of painted finishes is the suggestion that they are easier to mix and match with greater accuracy to achieve precise colours. However, powder coating can be just as specialised and accurate with the benefit of an experienced manufacturer and advanced facilities. Neaco can powder coat any RAL colour as well as supply special formulations for bespoke needs. We also powder coat a range of metallic colours, from Champagne to Graphite.
CAN YOU ACHIEVE WOOD-EFFECT COATING?
Coating is rarely discussed in the context of timber handrails and balustrade, primarily because many people prefer not to cover up the rich texture and natural beauty of wood grain. The traditional style of timber has a timeless appeal which can be complemented by a contemporary touch when combined with metallic rails and stanchions.
Unfortunately, using real wood is fraught with various issues. It’s more prone to surface damage, which makes it less safe to touch and more likely to need regular maintenance. Wood requires ongoing treatment to maintain its aesthetic, prevent absorption of bacteria and control infection. Using wood on residential developments can also have legal implications: the latest Building Regulations prohibit the use of combustible materials on external features such as balconies.
Thankfully, an alternative is available. Neaco have developed a special coating for aluminium handrails and balustrade which reproduces the intricate detailing of natural oak grain. Our Timberline system has the aesthetic virtues of wood whilst offering several practical advantages compared to the real thing: it is non-absorptive, safe to the touch, extremely durable and non-chip. Available in a matt or gloss finish, Timberline’s wood-effect options are now one of the most popular specifications in our balustrade range.
TALK TO OUR TEAM ABOUT YOUR REQUIREMENTS
Neaco’s team of specialists can advise on everything you need to know about powder coated finishes for aluminium handrails and balustrade. If you need a specific colour/finish for a specific built environment, we can provide a solution to match your requirements. We can also provide samples on request. For a free consultation, contact us today via 01653 695721 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, please submit an enquiry on our Contact page and we’ll get in touch at a time to suit you.