Paint Finishes for Steel

"... Verdigris; where engineering becomes art ..."

A lightly textured grey paint finish A gate painted with a specially ordered RAL colour Satin black paint catching the sun

Paint can be used when a specific colour or finish is required. However, it tends to be a uniform surface that can mask the subtle nuances and worked tones and textures of forged metalwork. Verdigris' owner David Hyde prefers whenever possibleto leave the expressive natural worked surface on display with much of his metalwork.

Left uncoated, steel will soon rust when used outdoors. Rust can be an attractive finish for work such as garden sculpture. However, if effective rust prevention is required, the work should be galvanised before painting. Paint alone will not offer any serious long term rust protection and will inevitably require repainting every few years. Galvanising offers decades of rust protection and is a very attractive finish in its own right; any painting on top of it is essentially cosmetic.

Conventional paint doesn't adhere well to galvanised steel and specially formulated paints must be used. Satin black or lightly textured mid-grey works well with a lot of David's work but suitable paint, specially mixed to most RAL colours, can usually be sourced.

Powder coating on sand blasted steel can be very attractive and hard wearing when used as an interior finish. However, powder coating is not recommended as a exterior finish for galvanised steel since it can be very poor at adhering to the galvanising. It can look good initially but will inevitably flake off in large chunks. This can be very difficult to touch up and blend in since it is a very thick coating. Powder coating on its own is best viewed as only a short term exterior coating for steel. Once the coating has scratched, the exposed steel will quickly rust when wet. This rust soon spreads under the powder coating also causing it to flake off in large chunks.

In light of the above, powder coating is only recommended for interior use. By far and away the best method for long term protection from rust is galvanising. This can be followed by painting with special formulated paint if required for cosmetic purposes.