My sons and I are partners in a small family business in which we do custom metal work, welding, painting, polishing, etc. We have tried to powder coat all of our products, but the cost is very high and we do not do enough volume yet to justify the high cost of large-scale powder coating equipment. We have a 200-item order for mailboxes, posts and brackets. The posts and brackets are made of 4×4 square tubing; we form the mailboxes out of 16-gauge steel. Because of the price of our bid, I cannot afford the $60 to have each one powder coated. Is there any mixture of paint that I can use to come close to the durability and hardness of powder coating? We use both oil based enamels and automotive paint. K.K.
Although powder coating is a user- and environmentally friendly coating process, it is not the only one used for painting metal products. Most of the resin types available as powder coatings are also available as liquids. A polyurethane coating would be an excellent choice for outdoor weathering. These coatings are used on locomotives, railcars and cement trucks. Thermosetting acrylics are another excellent choice. On the other hand, acrylic lacquers are too brittle and may chip in mailbox service. Those mail carriers are really rough on mailboxes. Another excellent choice is polyester coatings.
Many of these coating are available from your automotive paint supplier. Most of them can be purchased from local paint stores. They don't only sell wall paint. Even if they don't have industrial and maintenance paints on the shelves, they can show you their product line in catalogs and order what you need. Even if you live in Dunbar, PA, you can get them locally.