When a customer places an order for aluminium windows they will be asked to specify a colour. The process of colour matching powder coated aluminium windows is not complicated, but it does need to be understood.
To ensure consistency the powder coating industry created a reference system so that the windows will be powder coated in the correct colour. Additionally there are situations where the new aluminium windows will often be required to match the colour of the outgoing steel windows or some other colour scheme the customer requires or desires.
Furthermore where new aluminium windows are being fitted or if the project is a new build, the customer may have matching aluminium fascias, soffits, guttering or aluminium trims and pressings that are also required to be powder coated to the same colour.
Why does the aluminium window and door sector use colour references?
Taking Grey as an example; there are over 20 different shades of Grey Colour in a standard colour swatch. With so many possible interpretations of what is the correct grey colour it is imperative that references are used. For this reason the window sector does not use descriptions such as “Pillar Box Red” or “Goosewing Grey” but insists on colour references. Whilst certain colours have stabilised themselves with descriptions such as Van Dyke Brown this is merely a convenience, this colour will still be ordered using the reference BS 08 B 29 Satin.
This takes all the guesswork out of what is the correct interpretation by all parties of the correct colour. One persons interpretation of a colour is completely different from another. With the sums of money involved, and the potential for withheld accounts, colour matching powder coated aluminium windows must be done right.
The Polyester Powder
Powder coated aluminium windows are coated with polyester powder. But did you know that there are several powder manufacturers including Syntha Pulvin, Interpon/Akzo Nobel, Tiger, IGP and Axalta to name some?
Whilst they may all use the same RAL reference this does not mean that the colours will match. They cannot match exactly as all these different powder manufacturers manufacture their own powders.
For example, if Grey RAL 7016 windows are painted with Interpon Powder by one supplier and aluminium panels or trims are painted by another supplier using Tiger Grey RAL 7016 powder, these colours may not exactly match. For this reason, window companies have a responsibility to make the customer aware of a possible colour difference when they know they are sourcing aluminium products from different suppliers. Alternatively to one powder coater is responsible for the finishing of all aluminium.
Therefore when placing an order for panels or ancillary powder coated items, it is wise alongside the RAL reference to also state the powder manufacturer stated on the colour swatch you have used. For example Grey RAL 7016 Matt INTERPON. This will ensure that the same make of powder is used and ensure colours will match assuming all the powder coating processes have been carried out correctly by all parties.
Similarly if you are carrying out a large contract, make your powder coater aware so that any further phases can be powder coated using the same powder manufacturer as the earlier phases.
The colour swatch.
There are several issues that should be borne in mind with colour swatches used by the window industry and offered to customers to select a colour.
Colour swatches are printed in the same way any printing on paper is carried out. It is not polyester powder coating, it is printing on paper or card. Therefore there is no guarantee that the colour seen on the paper colour swatch will match the finished aluminium profile. It is good practice to make customers aware of this. If in doubt, ask your supplier to provide you with an aluminium test panel of the desired RAL colour. This will be more accurate than a paper swatch.
It is imperative that the correct colour swatch is used. Often customers will obtain a Dulux or other colour RAL colour swatch from their local Homebase or paint supplier. The same applies as with powder. The RAL colour swatch should be produced by a recognised powder manufacturer and not be a “generic” RAL colour swatch. There are many such swatches online and available and there is again no guarantee that the colour of the powder coated aluminium will match.
A reputable polyester powder coater should be able to replicate other colours, such as Farrow and Ball. This will mean that powder will have to be specially blended to create the desired colour and charges for this range from £750 to £1400 depending on the provider. Please also bear in mind that the powder coater will need to calculate the amount of powder required in this special colour.
If for example the customer has the front of the house with new window and several months later requires windows to the back of the house the surcharges will once again apply as insufficient powder may have been manufactured to powder coat the entire project.
Use a Qualicoat Approved Applicator
A reputable polyester powder coating company should always be used for the finishing of aluminium. It is often the case that where small replacement parts are required local “jobbing” painters may be used. Whilst the colours may initially match, the finishing process will be completely different and the industry guarantees offered by reputable powder coaters will be invalid.