Products made with aluminum profiles, among which doors and windows stand out, have many benefits in terms of resistance and durability. This is due, in large part, to the physical and mechanical properties of the alloy used in the manufacture of the profiles. Now, what happens aesthetically?
In the 20th century, with the rise of metal carpentry, which we discuss in greater detail in this post, the use of aluminum for the manufacture of elements used in houses and buildings became popular. But initially, the final color of an aluminum door or window was limited. Only the characteristic gray-white color that the default alloy brought was available. In addition, the surface of these profiles was exposed and received all the contact with the outside.
This made it necessary to study techniques that would allow expanding the range of colors available for these products. This, at the same time without compromising the surface of the base material and additionally, providing it with a protective layer against external agents./p>
In this post, we are going to teach you everything you need to know about aluminum finishes and the variety of textures and colors available.
The surface finish is the visible state in which the faces of any object are found at the time of being manufactured. In general terms, it is mainly associated with its aesthetics, but it also involves the mechanical part at an engineering level.
All existing products have a surface finish. When an aluminum profile leaves the manufacturing process, characteristic traces associated with machining, extrusion or casting tasks remain on its surface. Among the most common are roughness, texture and, on an aesthetic level, the final color. Depending on the application to which the profile will be subjected, it is necessary to apply wear tasks on the surface, to eliminate impurities, stress concentrations and any other mechanical problem. But, at an aesthetic and material protection level, this is not enough to guarantee greater durability and a good appearance in the profile.
In the case of aluminum and its alloys, there are processes to generate surface finishes that achieve two main objectives: expand the range of colors available for profiles and guarantee superior quality textures. The foregoing goes hand in hand with the protective characteristic of these finishes, which serve to protect the material and extend its durability and resistance to adverse environmental conditions.
Defining the types of finishes that can be applied to aluminum profiles depends mainly on three factors: color, texture and protection capacity. There are techniques that only guarantee the change of color (as in the case of traditional painting), that only allow the change of texture (by grinding or sanding) or that only protect the material (in the case of products applicable for maintenance and cleaning).
Below we present the main types of surface finishes that exist in almost all aluminum doors and windows today. Although there are more techniques and finishes, these are the most representative since they meet the 3 factors that we have just mentioned:
Lacquering is a technique for coating surfaces that consists of applying powder paint electrostatically. Now what does this mean?
With the traditional painting method, we apply a liquid layer of the color we want and this adheres as it dries on the surface. The drawback with this method is that the adhesion is not as strong and after drying it is relatively easy to remove the paint from the aluminum.
By lacquering, the process is different. The surfaces to be painted are attacked to remove the natural protective oxide of the aluminum and then they are impregnated with a compound to promote adherence. This adherence is due to the attraction of charges, since the surfaces are negatively charged and the powder paint is positively charged.
In this way, the paint layer is evenly distributed on all surfaces and the bonding forces between these and the aluminum are, in theory, unbreakable.
Anodizing goes one step further than lacquering, since it not only serves to give surfaces color and provide them with a high level of protection, but also blends into the material and takes the place of the protective layer against corrosion that this brings by default.
The aluminum profiles are subjected to a direct current to act as anodes and are immersed in a controlled acidic environment. Next, a protective layer against corrosion begins to form that varies in thickness depending on the time submerged and the desired final conditions.
This process for the generation of aluminum finishes is versatile since it allows the adhesion of color and the generation of a varied range. Additionally, being a uniform layer, it is generated on any surface, not just smooth ones. This allows to generate profiles with grooves and special marks with a uniform tone.
At a general level, the differences between lacquered and anodized are few. They are almost non-existent if the environmental conditions to which the profiles will be subjected are standard. But, when we talk about particular environments, such as coastal areas or cities with a certain degree of pollution, everything changes.
For these special areas, anodized profiles are the most recommended, since the surface protection is greater under these environmental conditions. For the rest of the areas, residential or with a controlled environment, the lacquered profiles are sufficient. The choice of one type or another is left to the designer and the project being executed.
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