Table of Contents Hide
This question might have come to your mind in the past- can you powder coat wood? The answer is, since the 1960s, powder coating has created a sensation in the wooden finishing industry. Along with the metallic products, it has added new dimensions to the wood furnishing industry as well. If you want to give that desirable sheen to your wooden furniture and artefacts, powder coating can be the answer to your prayers.
Powder coating provides a superior, shining, durable, classy looking, environmentally friendly finish to many materials. You can apply powder coating to wood, and it has a variety of benefits over liquid coating.
Till about a few years earlier, there was one limitation identified for powder coating wood. That limitation was related to the temperature requirements for curing the wood. Since wood is a heat-sensitive substance, powder coating used to pose problems earlier. However, that limitation is now overcome with advanced technology. Now you can apply powder coating to wood with ease. Many varieties of woods like MDF (Medium-density fibreboard), HDF (High-Density Fiberboard), oak, walnut, sapele, and ash can withstand this technology.
Powder Coating Technology- Details Explained
Powder coating is a finishing process to process wood to give it a shine which increases the longevity of the wood and makes it look more attractive. MDF wood can be easily used for powder coating for various reasons. Due to its low porosity, this technology can be applied to MDF and HDF woods. Since MDF woods are used in manufacturing office furniture, bath cabinets, kitchen cabinets, bedroom cupboards, doors, study tables, etc. it had given a strong boost to the wood manufacturing industry.
During the process of powder coating wood, a dry and free-flowing powder material is applied to the surface of MDF or HDF. This powder is thermoplastic or thermoset in nature. Then the surface is melted and finally hardened to create an even coating.
Step by Step Instruction to Powder Coat wood
This article will give you a step-by-step guide to powder coat wood.
Step 1- Pick the Right Wood
Before we can use the wood boards for powder coating, we need to select the right material. MDF wood with the right moisture content and bond strength is considered the ideal wooden board for powder coating. The criteria are specific, and you may choose to consult with an expert before starting the process.
After selecting the right wooden board, first start with removing oil, soil, termites, or any other organic growth. It can be done by numerous chemical and mechanical methods. The pre-treatment process both cleanses and creates a base for improving the bonding of the powder with the wooden surface.
MDF or HDF wood composites are both excellent substrates for the ultraviolet cured powder coating process. You can even use some wood varieties which are low in moisture content for this purpose.
If you want to safely powder coat your wood, you have to remember that you cannot elevate wood temperatures to much higher degrees. It might harm the wood as unlike metal, it does not have high resistance to temperature. However, with the advancement of technology in this field, this issue is resolved. Now there are low cure powder coatings available that will cure at 250 degrees or less.
Step 2- Applying Wood Primer
Putting a primer coating before applying a top coating for your wood will help in many ways. It will hide the imperfections of the wood surface which are visible to the naked eyes. Primer also helps in promoting better adhesion to the powder coat once applied. Even the moisture content can be locked with the usage of wood primer.
Step 3- Handling Moisture and Pre-Heating
Outgassing (release of gas during the process) may happen if the MDF wooden board has excessive moisture content. Thermoplastic powders melt at exact temperatures and you need to ensure that the excess moisture content does not interfere in the process of powder coating.
You will need a convection, UV (Ultraviolet), or Infrared oven to complete the process of powder application. For wood powder coating you need to heat the wood to 212 to 266 degrees Fahrenheit. The powder coating is ready for application which you need to do after the wood is pre-heated for 5 to 15 minutes.
Step-4- Applying the Powder
It is easier to work with lower temperatures and the risk of harming the core of the wooden board too is reduced. You can powder coat wood easily if it is seasoned properly. You need to keep this in mind if you are powder coating oak or ash.
You will have to electrostatically charge the powder coating and then apply it to the grounded part of the wood. Then make the MDF part electrically neutral. Since wood is not naturally conductive, it will be easier for you to start this process. Be careful about the moisture content as that may make the wood conductive in nature.
Ideally wood with less than 10% (ideally between 5-7%) moisture content is ideal for powder coating. Use a proper ground detector to check if the wood is properly grounded. Use a liquid conductivity enhancer in case you have a wooden board with higher moisture content. This chemical is used to improve the wooden board’s conductivity.
You will have to apply the thermoplastic powder at a temperature between 18 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit. The powder coating area needs to be spaced properly from the pre-heat oven in your factory. This will ensure that the wooden surface will cool down properly.
Step 5- Wood Curing
After preparing the wood, you will need to preheat it. Then after applying the powder, allow the wooden board to cool down. The final phase of the powder coating the wooden board is curing. You will need an infrared, convection, or combination oven to complete this process. This step is crucial to ensure the longevity of the wooden board. It will create a barrier between the wooden plank and moisture.
You may not be able to cure woods of all types using this technique of powder coating. However, even this technological advancement has given a boost to the revenues of the wood manufacturing industry.
When you expose the thermoset powder to a high temperature, it will begin to melt. Eventually, it will flow out and form a higher molecular weight polymer and lock the new equation. This process of curing is also known as crosslinking as a different molecular structure is formed in the new polymer. This chemical transformation is irreversible.
Even laser cure ovens are used during this curing process these days. This is the latest technology in this field and has reduced the lead time (manufacturing, drying, and curing time put together) by manifolds.
Powder Coating- Ideal for Office Furniture
In recent years, there is an increased demand for furniture which are powder coated. People prefer them over laminated furniture for various reasons. They are extremely eco-friendly as they have caused a reduction in deforestation. Earlier, in order to manufacture furniture millions of trees were cut every year across the globe.
Now you will find many office furniture in oval or circular shapes. Some have contoured edges, which give a modern look to the office decor. You will find circular holes which allow the computer cords to drop through. In order to create such furniture and give them a smooth look, powder coating is extremely handy. These pieces of office furniture are extremely economical, and hence are gaining popularity.
Since the color options are varied in the case of powder coating, this technology has taken even the home décor space by storm. Since they do not need long drying times like the traditional furniture, more units can be created in the factory at the same time.
The durability of powder-coated wood is high, the prices moderate, and the looks ultra-modern. Since this technology blends in all the requirements of the customers, it is becoming increasingly popular.
Powder coating is not only used on woods, but also on various other surfaces like plastics and glass along with metals. The popularity of powder coating increased in the last few years as a wide range of colors, textures, and finishes can be applied to powder coating. Both functional and decorative surface coatings can use this technology of powder coating. Liquid coating is unable to achieve this kind of the desired result.
The growing popularity of powder coating technology has created a revolution in the wood industry. Powder coating creates a protective layer and protects MDF, HDF, and oak products from chips, stains, cracks, spills, discoloring, and scratches. If you are looking forward to a beautiful, aesthetically stylish, durable, and seamless finish, follow the steps mentioned above, and start powder coating your old furniture. If they meet the criteria, then you are in for a great surprise. Check with experts in this field and you will get better insights before you start.
Lamination can not provide this kind of finish and durability. If you own an office or business unit and have a lot of wooden furniture, this is the right time to powder coat them. Since due to the pandemic, the office staff is working from home, you can utilize this time to powder coat wooden furniture at the workplace.
Over the years, since this technology has evolved so much, we can expect more enhancements in this field in the near future.