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Comparing Different Metal Finishes and Coatings

Published by Lucy Thurston on


As far as the functionality, durability, and aesthetics of metal products are concerned, the finishes and coatings play an integral role. This is because it’s not just the visual appeal that’s affected but the protection from wear, corrosion, and other environmental factors, too. Each finish and coating boasts unique characteristics, and you can learn about this in further detail below.

Powder Coated Metal

Metal powder coating involves spraying a dry powder onto a metal surface, which is then cured under heat to achieve a durable and attractive finish. Powder coating metal creates a uniform appearance, resistance to chipping, and offers an array of colour options. The appliance, furniture, and automotive industries are just some of the industries in which powder coating is commonly used.

Anodised Metal Finishes

If you’re wondering how to anodise metal, this involves an electrochemical process in which a protective oxide layer is created on the surface of aluminium. This provides a decorative appearance and enhances corrosion resistance, which is why the finishing is so often applied in aerospace applications, electronics, and architectural elements. Anodising allows for a number of finishes, including highly reflective and matte appearances.

Plated Metal

Next up is plated metal, meaning a thin layer of metal is deposited onto the surface of another metal via electroplating. Gold, nickel, and chrome are just some of the metals that are commonly used for plating, and this leads to the improvement of aesthetics and enhancement of corrosion resistance and can even provide unique properties such as conductivity.

The Importance of Surface Finishes and Coatings

Surface finishes and coatings are greatly important for a number of reasons, as explored in further detail below.


First and foremost, metal finishes work to enhance the visual appearance of materials. Architectural elements, appliances, and furniture all tend to be subjected to some kind of finishing, and this contributes to the overall aesthetics and design. Whether an ornate and classic appearance is what you’re after or you’d prefer a modern and sleek exterior, finishes can bring these looks to life.

Corrosion Protection

All metals face the common enemy of corrosion, especially if they’re placed in corrosive or outdoor environments. In order to protect these metals against moisture, chemicals, and other corrosive agents, coatings can be added, as these prevent the metals from deteriorating over time. This is especially important for the likes of marine equipment, automotive components, outdoor furniture, and more.

Wear Resistance

When it comes to protecting metals against abrasion and wear, some metal finishes and abrasion can make a world of difference. This is of particular importance for products that are subjected to frequent contact or handling, including appliances, machinery, and tools. From a durable finish, a longer lifespan is guaranteed, which helps to maintain the product’s appearance even in the most challenging circumstances.

Enhanced Functionality

Surface finishes are also capable of improving the functionality of metal products. For example, a textured or non-slip finish can be applied to grip surfaces or handles, which results in improved ergonomics and usability. Similarly, some coatings can offer insulation, electrical conductivity, or heat resistance, depending on the requirements of the application.

Metal Finishes and Coating FAQs

Does plated metal tarnish?

While plated metal is generally stronger, it does have the capacity to tarnish over time.

Are there environmentally friendly options for metal finishes and coatings?

Yes, there are some environmentally friendly metal finishes and coatings on the market. For instance, some powder coatings are formulated with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which makes them more environmentally friendly. Similarly, the anodising process is undergoing developments to minimise its environmental impact.

How can the appearance of metal finishes be maintained over time?

In order to preserve the appearance of metal finishes, regular cleaning and proper maintenance need to be carried out. That said, you need to avoid abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the finish. Instead, you should use mild detergents and cleaning solutions. Similarly, clear coatings can be applied, and protective measures such as waxing can be used to extend the life and lustre of metal finishes.

Can metal finishes be applied to any type of metal?

All metals can be finished and coated; however, some processes are more specific than others. For instance, anodising is primarily used for aluminium, and certain plating processes are better suited for specific metals. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance that a finish that’s compatible with the base metal is selected to guarantee optimal performance.

How does the cost of different metal finishes compare?

The metal being treated, the complexity of the process, and the type of finish all affect the cost. Typically speaking, powder coating is considered cost-effective, whereas processes like gold plating are more expensive. The desired performance and aesthetics will determine whether the extra costs are worth it.

Finding a Metal Supplier Near Me

Here at Rapid Metals, we provide all manner of metals with a number of finishes. To learn more about our product selection, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our helpful team.

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Comparing Different Metal Finishes and Coatings

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