Optional Finishes Explained

Optional Finishes Explained

24th July 2014

Here at Safety Fabrications we offer our products in a range of materials with optional finishes.  All of our products are fabricated in accordance with BS EN ISO 3834-2:2005 and BS EN 1090-2:2008.  Each item also carries the CE marking that demonstrates that they meet European Union health, safety and environmental standards.  We’re taking a look today at the different coatings that our products are finished with – galvanization, powder coating or polishing.


Galvanization is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel in order to prevent it from rusting.  The process is named after Italian physician, physicist and philosopher Luigi Galvani (1737 – 1798).  The most common method of galvanization in current use is the hot-dip galvanization process in which steel parts are submerged in a bath of molten zinc.  Technically, the term “galvanizing” refers specifically to the application of a zinc coating using a galvanic cell (this is also known as electroplating).  While the hot dip zinc coating method produces a thick, durable, matte grey coating, electroplated coatings tend to be thinner and shiny.  The zinc coating that is applied during galvanization prevents corrosion by forming a physical barrier.


Powder coating is a type of paint that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder.  The main difference between this and liquid paint is that the powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler parts in a liquid suspension form.  The coating is usually applied electrostatically and then cured with heat to allow it to flow and form a skin on the fabricated material.  Powder coating provides a thick, hard finish that is much tougher than conventional paint and it is used to coat metals. 

The powder is sprayed on using an electrostatic gun (also known as a corona gun) which imparts positive electric charge to the powder which is then sprayed towards the object being coated by mechanical or compressed air spraying.  The object is then heated and the powder melts to form a uniform film which cools into a hard coating.  If a powder coating needs to be removed for any reason this can be done by abrasive blasting or using acetone.


Polishing is a finishing process for smoothing the surface of metal using abrasives.  While polishing is often used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of metals, in industrial applications it is an important method of removing oxidation, preventing contamination and preventing corrosion.  The process will also eliminate any locations where bacteria or mould can grow and flourish.

Which type of finish is chosen for ladders and other safety equipment will depend on the location where the equipment is to be installed and the type of work that the equipment will be used for.