External Powder Coating Maintenance
As with any applied finish exposed to British weather, it is important that a maintenance regime is undertaken to keep it performing and looking well for many years. Pollutants and airborne debris, which are deposited on powder coat finishes through weathering, can simply be cleaned down at the same time as window cleaning using mild detergent solutions. Aluminium window and facade longevity starts with a high quality aluminium substrate pretreatment and powder coat finish as provided by a licensed QUALICOAT applicator.
Often overlooked in the specification process, the pretreatment of the aluminium substrate is crucial as it has to firmly bond onto the aluminium and completely seal its surface, whilst offering a good key for the powder coating to adhere to. Despite the powder coating being of consistent thickness, it is air permeable and, as a result, if the pretreatment is poorly applied, oxidisation of the aluminium over time could cause the finish to lift. QUALICOAT applicators are routinely inspected by independent test houses to ensure the latest QUALICOAT Standard is being adhered to.
Prior to handover of any new installation or building, coated aluminium fenestration will be cleaned down professionally to ensure that the finish is not damaged. It is crucial to have any areas of impact or abrasion damage repaired, should it be present. During cleaning, all the protective tape must be removed from the inside and outside of powder coated surfaces as if this is left on for an extensive time, the tapes low-tack adhesive can often degrade, especially in UV light, and become firmly attached to the powder coating.
Once handed over to the client, in normal use such as in cities, the powder coat finish should simply be washed down at yearly intervals with clean water or with a ph neutral mild detergent solution in water. This should be enough to protect the visible surface of the powder coat for many years and can simply be done during the cleaning of windows. The powder coat finish wash down is especially important where squeegee bars are used to clean the glass, as their use tends to place the residue of the airborne contaminants directly on the powder coated frame which could begin to etch into the surface finish of the coating. Window cleaners must ensure that all powder coated surfaces are wiped clear of cleaning residue on every window clean.
On new and refurbished building projects, powder coated finishes will always come with a cleaning and maintenance regime from the company who coated the aluminium profiles. These will offer minimum cleaning requirements and need to be adhered to as well as being recorded when completed. This will ensure the coated finish is maintained within the applicators warranty and will help, should there be any claim in the future. Warranties vary in length and are dependent on the powder coat finish used and the location of the installation. For example, where the coating is close to the sea, a marine grade or QUALICOAT ‘Seaside’ specification for the coating should be specified and the cleaning regime will often be increased to three monthly intervals as the atmosphere is more corrosive.
Crucial to any maintenance regime is preventative maintenance and powder coating is no exception, if the coating in use has become damaged, exposing the aluminium, it should be repaired as soon as possible. For repair, either contact the original coater, or approach any QUALICOAT approved application who can normally offer guidance.
QUALICOAT UK & Ireland offer a basic guide which can be downloaded from their website. This can be referred to as where the original maintenance information has been mislaid and not available to refer to.
The current 2021 QUALICOAT Standard is freely available for download via the Association’s website, www.qualicoatuki.org and offers an up-to-date list of licensed UK and Ireland Powder Suppliers, Pretreatment Suppliers and Applicators. Printed literature and telephone support is available from QUALICOAT UK & Ireland Head Office in Birmingham on 0330 236 2800 or email email@example.com. The Association can also be followed on Twitter @Qualicoatuki
QUALICOAT UK & Ireland with offices based in the Midlands is the National Association for QUALICOAT approved companies. QUALICOAT is a global quality label organisation committed to maintaining and promoting the quality of lacquering, painting and coating on aluminium and its alloys for architectural applications.
Please browse our website and should you have any questions about architectural powder coatings and the correct specification, please contact one of our local members or phone our office on the number below.
QUALICOAT UK & Ireland Chairman