Selecting a finish for your skylight? It pays to know your options. And when it comes to applying a touch of colour or added protection to aluminum components, both powder coating and anodizing offer unique advantages.
Why opt for a finish? Because aluminum as a bare material can include the occasional blemish or mark and has a shiny silver appearance; we call this a mill finish. This so-called “mill finish” is usually fine on its own, but some clients prefer to enhance the appearance of their aluminum components with a finish.
“If that natural look is ok with the client, great, but if not, you can apply either powder coating or anodizing colours to achieve a more desired look,” adds Marco Ferrazzo, Manager with Artistic Skylights.
Both powder coating and anodizing are viable skylight finishing options. However, there are key differences that can inform one’s decision.
Powder coating is an organic finish. It is an electrostatically dry powder that is sprayed onto the metal via electrostatic charging. It can be applied to both the interior and exterior of a skylight.
Anodizing, on the other hand, is a translucent and inorganic finish that is applied to aluminum through an electrochemical process that thickens the metal’s oxide layer. It, too, can be applied to both the interior and exterior of a skylight.
Anodizing increases aluminum’s resilience to scratches, chips, and corrosion. It is part of the metal and, therefore, cannot be separated from it. As such, Ferrazzo says, “Anodizing is often a preferred method of finish on commercial projects because of its ability to increase the lifespan of the metal while also enhancing its appearance.”
Powder coating is more susceptible to peeling and wear and tear. That said, with different grades of paint, this finish can be made durable and UV resistant with the right processes and controls to offer a lengthy lifespan.
There are several colour options for each finish. Choices of powder coating colours at Artistic Skylight, for example, include commercial brown, flat white, dark grey, or – the most popular choice – matte black. Anodizing affords slightly fewer colour options (e.g., clear, bronze, or black) but can be used to create a richer, deeper metallic appearance.
Powder coating can be touched up and revitalized, whereas anodizing is much more difficult to repair.
Anodizing costs more than powder coating, but the additional benefits for aluminum over the material’s lifespan makes the added cost make sense.
It may seem like a simple choice, but taking time to understand skylight finishing options is always a good idea.
“We deal with both types of aluminum finishes and are always asked the difference,” adds Ferrazzo. “In the end, it comes down to what properties matter most and how we can protect your investment.”