Specifiers draw on their comprehensive understanding of architectural processes to ensure multiple jobs run smoothly. When specifying a powder coating, however, if it fails to perform for its specific application, it can lead to costly mistakes and imperfect finishes – which can upset your client and injure your reputation.

Not all powder coating products are equal. There are different grades of powder available, depending on the technology and chemical formulation used. Each powder coat technology offered by a manufacturer is typically formulated to achieve a unique end-use characteristic such as chemical resistance, UV, impact and abrasion resistance and in some cases, non-slip benefits.

The following common mistakes are made when specifying powder coating, but they can be easily avoided with a little careful planning:

Mistake #1: Being unfamiliar with industry standards

Many specifiers mistakenly presume that all powder coat finishes will provide optimum performance irrespective of the manufacturer’s technology.

Often, there is an assumption that Australian Standard AS3715 is sufficient for exterior performance on certain project types, when it’s not necessarily the case. Simply specifying powder coating to AS3715 can result in an unsuitable product or inappropriate finish that can fade or degrade. Also, it may not be warranted for specific end use applications. This is particularly evident for commercial, marine uses and non-aluminium substrates.

Avoid this mistake by…

Being crystal clear about the desired powder coating you specify, ensuring that the product and application process meet and/or exceed industry standards.

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), a globally recognised voluntary performance standard for architectural finishes, advocates for premium performance standards. It recommends a global standard of 2603 (equivalent to AS3715) for residential domestic projects, and 2604 or 2605 for multi-density and commercial projects.

Whilst the AS3715 standard outlines performance of architectural powder coat finishes for Australian conditions, be aware that this performance criteria is ideally suited only for domestic residential applications. This may impact a perceived warranty. Most trusted brands of architectural powder coat finishes offer warranty performance that fit within a range of different standards and offer different levels of exterior performance.


In fact, many suppliers have architectural grade powder coat systems that meet or exceed these standards. Also, most reputable manufacturers have a network of accredited applicators. Using these applicators can ensure that an ideal finish is achieved and maintained for your projects.

Mistake #2: Failing to confirm powder coatings’ scope of use

Many specifiers are not aware that powder coating can be used on steel and hot-dip galvanized steel (HDG), assuming that it’s only suitable for aluminium. However, powder coatings can in fact go on steel and HDG, allowing you to maintain colour consistency across different components of your project.

Avoid this mistake by…

Asking questions about your chosen powder coating’s performance capabilities. You may be surprised to learn that with certain brands, you can even obtain high performance warranties on steel and HDG.

Mistake #3: Simply choosing the wrong coating for the job

Different powder coating products and brands will achieve different outcomes.

Choosing the wrong product systems could lead to costly recoating as a result of cracking, peeling and/or fading. For instance, some powder coat systems are specifically engineered to withstand graffiti, marine environments or chemical environments, while others are formulated to resist damage from light or UV exposure and certain coatings are designed to achieve a high-gloss, textured or flat matt finish.

Avoid this mistake by…

Liaising with your supplier to ascertain the best coating for the project at hand. The correct coating will depend on your particular needs, so it’s essential to find the right brand and product systems to ensure the best results.

Mistake #4: Assuming all powder coating can be used externally

Certain powder coating formulas are more suitable for internal or external use – and the impact of specifying interior grade products on an external project can be significant.

If a formula is designed for internal use, for instance, it may not have resistance to UV radiation damage or weather events. The coating can then degrade, exposing the underlying substrate/component to the elements, leading to even bigger issues.

Avoid this mistake by…

Specifying whether the product will be used indoors or outdoors. For projects that require internal and external coatings, be clear and specific about which standards and warranties are applicable.

Mistake #5: Specifying on colour, not performance

When you’re working on a project where colour is important, you may be inclined to put this requirement at the top of your priority list.

This can be a costly mistake, as specifying coatings based on colour rather than product performance can lead to serious problems. Also understanding the end use application of a powder finish product is important as airborne pollutants such as exposure to sea salts or chemical atmospheres is very important to long term coating performance.

Avoid this mistake by…

Confirming whether the product’s performance, not just colour, will last long-term.

It is important to understand which industry standard is most applicable for exterior performance your project requires. If the colour specified is not designed or formulated to withstand the weathering and environmental conditions of the project, then you risk fading and chalking – sooner rather than later.