Finding the Right Finish for your Project: EcoLED News
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Finding the Right Finish for your Project

Behind their visual appeal, a key advantage of finishing is that it can strengthen the resistance of the metal against corrosion. However, not every project requires the same finishing technique, and each comes with its own list of pros and cons.

At Ecoled we’re fortunate enough to be able to offer a choice of finishing methods because we manufacture everything in house and in the UK, which gives us greater engineering flexibility. But, to help you decide what method is best for your project, we have put together a list of advantages and disadvantages for each.

 

1. POWDER COATING

Powder Coating is the process of creating an electric charge that causes a powder to fuse to the surface of the metal, which is then baked in a curing oven to achieve a smooth coating.

This method paved the way for the most interesting new finishes in our collection including specialty rusts and Verdigris patinas. They have all the rustic beauty of the natural oxidisation process but with none of the pitfalls.

Advantages & Disadvantages:

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Provides a layer of protection against corrosion, scratches/chipping and fading
  • Achieves a consistent colour finish across the metal
  • Non-toxic and less flammable than paint finishes
  • Powder coats can leave an 'orange peel' texture on the metal
  • The process involves high set up costs due to the machinery involved 
  • Powders cannot be mixed to obtain different colours 

Applications:

Powder coating is the perfect method if you want to achieve a specific colour match. It can be applied to a range of substrates including steel and copper and offers a durable architectural finish.

It works well with uplights and wall lights as it is so durable and will therefore not get scratched easily.

 

 

2. PLATING 

Plating is a hydrolysis process that coats a metal with a thin layer of another metal.

 

Advantages & Disadvantages:

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Offers a protective layer against corrosion
  • Nice range of popular architectural finishes
  • Cost effective
  • Provides increased strength and hardness
  • Subject to easily cracking and chipping
  • Can be a lengthy process
  • Produces hazardous waste

Applications:

The majority of manufacturers in the industry will plate their lights, and you can see why. It is the most cost effective method of finishing. However, it is not suited to all applications, especially environments where the light is going to be vulnerable to scratching i.e. inground applications or marine applications.

This type of finish is more suitable for applications such as fixed downlights, where once the light is installed it sits untouched the ceiling and therefore has minimal risk of scratching.

 

3. ANODISING

Anodising is an electrochemical process that increases the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of the aluminium. 

It requires a specialist skill and an exact grade of metal to be effective, so it's not an easy technique to perfect. This is why many manufacturers steer clear of the method and only offer plated finishes.

For us, we had the benefit of experience on our side, which allowed us to harness the craft and apply it to our range. 

Advantages & Disadvantages:

Advantages Disadvantages
  • It's easy to maintain; it can be cleaned with water and mild detergents to restore the original lustre
  • UV stable and will not peel or flake, as it is integral to the metal
  • Protects the base metal to offer a deeper, richer metallic appearance
  • Offers a wide range of architectural finishes
  • This method draws from the base metal so it can be subject to colour variations
  • Produces a harmful chemical effluent
  • Harder to replicate consistency between batches compared to plating 
  • The most expensive solution (requires a higher-grade alloy in addition to the already high set up costs)

Applications:

Anodising can only be applied to aluminium. This finish is ideal in external environments because its UV stability will protect the light frame against weathering. It is a much more premium finish than plating and is much more durable too.

4. STAINLESS STEEL

A steel alloy that is notable for its strong resistance to corrosion.

 

Advantages & Disadvantages:

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Offers high protection against corrosion
  • Available with options to be polished to a satin or mirror shine for high aesthetic appeal
  • Offers strength and is not susceptible to dents
  • Expensive
  • Less conductive so it would be difficult to powder coat
  • Generally not made from recycled materials (whereas aluminium is more than 90% recycled)

Applications:

A stainless steel finish is best suited to aggressive environments such as swimming pools, marine environment or if the light is being embedding in concrete.

Find out more about Ecoled's flawless finishes at: /flawless-finish/