What is the difference between anodizing, painting and powder-coat finishes?

Oooo, we do love a good technical question! At Salt City Wheels, we are very slightly obsessed with wheels and wheel finishes, so you’ve come to the right place to find out what the difference is between these color application methods. 

There are some key differences between anodizing, painting and powder coating, and as a result, each is better suited to some applications than others. All three methods of applying color can help protect your wheels’ surface for years to come, so each is worth considering on its merits.

Firstly, anodizing. Anodizing is an electrochemical process (sounds complicated already!) that binds a layer of aluminum oxide to the surface of a metal. A thicker layer of anoxic coating results in a substantially longer lifespan for the metal, with longevity being directly pro-rotational to the thickness of the aluminum oxide layer.

Aluminum oxide has many intrinsic benefits. It is durable and resilient in bad weather and protects the metal beneath from corrosion and premature wear. Because the protective layer is fused electrochemically, it’s relatively easy to change the color tone during application. And since it actually becomes part of the metal, it won’t chip or peel like some finishes.

The downsides are that the process is often very expensive and is over-kill for finishing wheels. It’s also difficult to find an anodizing shop that has the ability to anodize something as large as a wheel.

Powder coatings are applied to the wheel before being cured in an oven. However, as with anodization, finding a shop with an oven big enough to take a wheel can be challenging, as well as expensive. Powder coatings can also flake over time, due to sunlight, moisture and oxygen exposure. They are typically made from a base resin and has similar to physical and protective characteristics to painting.

Which brings us to our personal favorite: painting. Painting wheels has numerous benefits. It’s typically a speedy process, with your fancy new wheels being turned around same-day. Painting wheels protects them from the elements and normal wear and tear by creating a protective barrier between the wheel base and the rigors of the environment. There are seemingly limitless color options and, unlike anodizing, colors can be custom-matched in small batches with a fast turnaround time.

It will come as no surprise then, to learn that wheel painting is the color application process that Salt City Wheels specializes in. We’ve done the research and waded up to our eyeballs in paint, powder, aluminum oxide and the like to see which process will be best for protecting and beautifying your gorgeous wheels. There are so many benefits to painting, it’s kind of a no-brainer to choose this application method.

If you’re ready to have your wheels customized to within an inch of their lives, give the experts at Salt City Wheels a call today at 801 425 3044. We’ll have your wheels looking their lifelong best in a jiffy!