Anodized vs. Powder Coat: What's the Difference?

We get many questions from our customers on which is the best. The fact is, both have strengths and weaknesses.

anodizedAnodized: It is an electrical plating process which actually penetrates the surface of aluminum. It creates a very hard protective surface layer when applied properly. There can be good anodizing and then there can be the bad anodizing parts. The difference between the two can come from several causes. Most of the complaints in the boating world are with regards to anodized color fade. The color in anodized parts is created by dyeing a part in a special dye, after the actual anodize process is done. A sealing process then follows.

We make sure the manufacturers and suppliers we deal with know the best process to anodize parts, where the technicians know what the concerns are with anodizing for marine use. Prematurely faded parts are very rare from us. Unfortunately, the reputation of anodize often suffers because many people don’t realize there’s a big difference in quality. It’s important to note that some colors like purple and red have relatively poor marks for use in anodizing and will fade much faster than the other colors. Typically the only parts we have anodized, are done in black which will hold up very well.

    Anodized Features:
  • Anodize - Basic bright colors available
  • When properly applied, normal fade will take several years to occur to a level where a part looks poor. However, when improperly applied and even with certain colors applied properly, fading can occur very rapidly. Purple and Red dyes typically have the worst fade properties of the colors available.
  • Very tough, can be scratched with a hard sharp blow but will not chip or flake after an initial surface intrusion. Salt water will still eat away at any exposed scratched metal, however.
  • Excellent when applied to a high quality smooth surface.

powdercoatPowder Coat: Applied in dry powder form to electrically charged metal objects and then baked on at high temperature. As paint goes, it is very durable. Powder Coat finishes come in a wide range of quality and colors. While some powder coatings are very tough and durable, others perform and look quite poor. A number of marine part suppliers market powder coated billet products under a number of different trade names. Typically all of the billet hardware we offer is powder coated. See our billet products here.

    Powder Coat Features:
  • Powder Coat - More selection of colors including white and some that have a deep candy luminescence
  • Very resistant to fade. Also, can be color sanded like most standard paints to remove surface imperfections or oxidation that may naturally occur over time.
  • Very tough for paint, but no match for anodize in this area. After an initial chip, corrosion may set in, rapidly causing additional paint separation. Corrosion can also start at any area of a part that is not painted well (like the back side) or at any point on a part that normally rubs or wears (such as a hinge). 
  • Some colors are excellent, while others, especially when the process is poorly done, inherently tend to have varying amounts of orange peel. This orange peel can be color sanded out in many cases however, if a person spends the time to do it. Also, like any paint, any dirt introduced in the painting process shows up as irregularities in the surface. We make sure that our suppliers adhere to the highest standard when powder coating parts for us, and the orange peel effect is non-existent.