What you need to know about powder coating

Powder coating, which uses color pigments that start in a powdery state, is an effective way to create a high-quality finish on a variety of products. But you may be asking yourself: Is it right for my operation? You may also be wondering what equipment you’ll need before starting.

Why powder coating? 

First, let’s address why you may want to powder coat. Powder systems can create an attractive, durable coating on a wide range of surfaces. It creates an excellent look and feel to the final product, while also leaving a durable finish with cost-effective efficiency.  

There are many advantages of powder coating.

  • Longevity. Powder coating has a strong paint layer, so a coat will last longer compared to liquid paint. In other words, it takes longer for the coating to break down.
  • More environmentally friendly. Available in a wide range of shades and surface structures, powder coating uses fewer solvents. Because it’s nearly 100% of the powder paint (thanks to the electrostatic system), that also means minimal waste.
  • Can be less expensive. There is a low expense for safety engineering, a short training period for using powder booths, and an easy adjustment from one color to another. And again, because it’s powder, it may be cheaper than liquid paint.
  • Versatile. Although powder coating is typically used on metal many objects can use this process, including wood and plastics. The water in the wood acts as the electrical conductor. As long as it can draw an electrical charge and withstand the curing temperatures, it’s a candidate for powder coating. Plastics can be powder coated, but they need a surface finish that can be charged and must withstand high curing temperatures.

Industrial powder coating: the steps and equipment

When considering powder coating systems for your operation, it’s important to understand the process, which is usually divided into three steps: 1) pretreatment of the item, 2) application of the powder, and 3) drying, also known as curing. 

Powder coating equipment

You’ll need a powder spray gun or powder booth as well as an oven (for that curing process). Whether you use a spray gun or industrial paint booth, is up to you and the process. There are people who can make recommendations, including Elevated! Contact us so we can help you determine the right equipment, and brands, for your job.

Pretreat the workpiece

The first step in the process is pretreatment, which ensures the surface of the item is ready for the powder. The surface must be clean and free of grease. In some cases, sandblasting or cleaning with special chemicals is required. If the part needs high corrosion resistance, a basic wet chemical can be applied before the powder is added. 

Apply the powder

Now that the piece has been cleaned and prepared, the powder can be applied. During this step, the powder will be ejected from the spray equipment to the item. However, the powder will be electrically charged so it sticks to the piece. (Only electrically-conducive items, usually metals, can be powder coated.) While applying the powder, the item will be electrically grounded and the powder electrically charged. This creates an attraction between the item and the powder paint. 

There are various processes for charging the item and, depending on the system, the charge may need to be adjusted to create thicker or thinner layers of paint. The charge may need to be adjusted because of temperature, humidity, desire for gloss, or to create abrasion resistance.

Dry or cure the workpiece 

After the coat is applied, the workpiece will go through a drying process, which is often referred to as “curing” because the piece is heated, melting the powder so it holds firm. 

After the coating is applied, it’s still in powder form. This powder is essentially a composite of plastic and color pigments, that usually cure between 320 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The powder contains hardeners that allow the paint to melt, dry, and become a hard coating, all while maintaining an excellent finish. 

Is powder coating right for you?  

Powder coating can be used on a wide variety of projects from cars and specialty vehicles to furniture. It can be less expensive and greener than using liquid coating plus the quality is durable. Picking the right equipment, whether you’re spraying or using automated spray booths, though can make all the difference.  

Elevated can recommend processes and equipment as well as help you make a decision about spraying powder or liquid paint.

Do wood finishing right with Wagner and C.A. Technologies

Finding the right finishing equipment to put the final touches on any woodworking project is always a challenge. For finishing and coating cabinets, furniture, pallets, containers, or anything else wooden, you need to make sure you have a consistent spray without waste (such as overspray). And there are so many brands and spray technologies to consider when making an investment in your wood finishing process. It can really be overwhelming.

The good news is Wagner and C.A. Technologies are well-known brands and offer various technologies for the wood finisher. They manufacture professional-grade finishing equipment and provide many options. Whether you’re looking for equipment to spray small jobs or just need help on a production work level they have something for everyone.

How to Choose the Right Wood Finishing Equipment

When trying to decide the best equipment for any woodworking project, it’s always good to look at the following:

  • Size and quantity
  • Frequency
  • Type of material

By considering these three criteria in advance, you’ll avoid many of the purchasing pitfalls that can arise when looking to improve your wood-finishing process. When considering these topics, it’s best to look at the specific spray technologies and materials.

The most common spray technologies used for wood finishing would include low-pressure HVLP or Reduced Pressure (RP) and medium pressure Air-Assist Airless (AAA)/AirCoat options. The low-pressure HVLP and RP technologies can work well for small to large projects depending on the material supply options selected.

Medium pressure AAA/AirCoat technology is perfect for production-level finishing where the scope of work is larger, and the frequency of finishing is high.  This technology offers a soft spray application similar to HVLP technology but at a much faster work speed.  The finishing time and money saved on material with AAA technologies make it a very attractive option for many wood finishers.

In addition to the application portion of any spray system, there are many material supply options available for low-pressure spray equipment. These include smaller gravity or bottom-feed pressure cups to larger remote two-quart pressure cups and pressure tanks. As noted above, the best choice will depend on the size of your project, frequency, and the type of material being used. For larger projects, the remote pressure cups and tanks can help save the time typically needed for re-filling a smaller direct feed cup. In addition, these pressure feed cups also allow the finishers to spray thicker materials and, in some situations, may be a great fit for water-based finishes as some of the options offer water-resistant features to help with corrosion concerns.

3 Top Wagner and C.A. Technologies Spray Equipment

All things being equal, we have recommendations for your woodworking shop to try one of the following. Although we don’t like to play favorites, these tend to be some of the best.

C.A. Technologies Air Assist Airless (AAA) 14:1 Bobcat Peak Performance Pump – Cart-Model Setup

This AAA is an all-stainless 14:1 ratio pump for production fine finish spraying of wood or other fine finish applications. The new 14:1 Peak Performance Series pump incorporates a new completely redesigned air motor that features a stationary magnet poised for endurance and longevity.


  • .33 GPM output for quick product changes with very little waste
  • No-stall air motor with stationary magnet poised for endurance & longevity
  • Resistant to icing
  • Long-life carbon fiber cylinder
  • Integrated noise suppression design for quiet operation
  • Stainless steel fluid section featuring a non-contact pump tube that never wears out
  • Cartridge-style piston seal & guide for quick field replacement
  • Large capacity solvent cup & 360-degree fluid inlet/outlet orientation
  • The upper seal is a V-Packing design for pre-cat lacquers, conversion varnish, and polyurethanes

C.A. Technologies CAT-Xpress Pressure Feed RP & HVLP Spray Gun (Spray Gun Only)

The new C.A. Technologies CAT-Xpress professional-grade, pressure feed spray gun provides fine finish atomization results for both thick and thin finishing materials like you’ve never seen before. The CAT-Xpress spray gun is perfect for all general coating types as well as water-based finishes.


  • Extreme atomization, handle ergonomics & fluid delivery superior to all the competitive guns on the market today!
  • Patented two-piece fluid nozzle reduces the cost of wear on parts
  • Single-handed quick-adjust fan control is designed for “on the fly” work
  • Full-pattern modification for parts with various size geometries
  • Each CAT-Xpress is available as a “ready-to-spray” kit with multiple nozzles and needles for all types and ranges of coatings
  • HVLP air cap & pressure reduced (compliant) air cap meet all codes and regulations throughout the U.S.
  • Enables user to switch between two spray technologies simply by changing the air cap

C.A. Technologies Techline 2 Quart (Qt) Pressure Cup (Dual Regulators)

The Techline two-quart remote pressure cup from C.A. Technologies is simple in design and versatile in operation. This economically priced pressure cup is strong enough to hold up to daily industrial and automotive operation and is designed for easy use and cleaning.


  • Top outlet cup with a 3/8” NPS male fluid outlet
  • ¼” NPS male air inlet & outlet
  • Dual regulators
  • No pneumatic agitation (mixer)
  • Brass pickup tube comes with a reusable screen
  • Maximum pressure rating of 50 PSI
  • Lightweight aluminum construction for more comfort and less sprayer fatigue
  • Flow-through regulator with precise pressure adjustments allows the user complete control of the cup pressure to get the right amount of flow for any material
  • Designed to consistently operate in many different types of environments
  • Pressure relief valve enables the user to relieve the pressure in the cup quickly and efficiently

Although Wagner and C.A. Technologies have a wide variety of exceptional solutions, these are some of our favorites. If you’re in woodworking or millwork, these spray guns will carry you for smaller and larger jobs.

Elevated can help

Still not certain which one is best for your project? No problem. These spray guns are just a few of our favorites. We can accommodate much larger jobs – such as providing spray booth recommendations or sprays and pumps that work together.

Elevated has more than 30 years of expertise in coating and finishing systems, serving customers in the woodworking and millwork industries. Whether it’s cabinets, furniture, fences, pallets, containers, or just about any wood product that needs finishing, we can assist you. It’s why we’ve been in business for more than 60 years.

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