How Does Anodized Aluminum Compare To Painted Aluminum?

By Phil Pearce, VP Sales and Marketing, Lorin Industries

I am often asked to explain the differences between anodized and painted aluminum. It’s a question that is near and dear to my heart, since that difference – and how the benefits of anodized aluminum improve products – is what “differentiates” Lorin in the marketplace.

First, let’s briefly look at what an anodic layer gives you compared to simple paint coatings. In a nutshell, an aluminum oxide layer is grown from the aluminum in an electro-chemical process, so it is part of the aluminum and bonded at the molecular level. This layer is second only to diamonds in terms of hardness, so it naturally resists scratches much better than a simple painted layer that is rolled or sprayed on.

Now, just how do these differences affect the actual durability of an aluminum product? First and foremost – an anodized layer doesn’t chalk, flake, chip, or peel. Once painted metal begins to flake or peel it tends to spread until more and more of the paint comes off. So anodized aluminum from Lorin will stay looking good longer with no costly repairs.

The anodized layer is also much easier to clean, and needs to be cleaned only half as frequently as paint. This saves a lot of money over the life of the building. Finally, the anodized aluminum’s superior scratch and abrasion resistance will provide better durability and therefore better appearance over time.

Another question I often get is how the cost of anodized aluminum compares with paint. Clear anodized aluminum is initial cost comparable to paint. Other colors may be more expensive at first, but the durability and ease of maintenance I mentioned earlier actually makes anodized aluminum a better choice for your overall return on investment (ROI).

So, which applications work best for anodized? Simple – wherever you want the true beauty of the metal to shine through, or when you want the “true” metal look of stainless steel, bronze, zinc, gold, brass, copper, titanium or Muntz, to name a few.

Some good examples include small or large appliances, walls and flooring for planes and rail cars, signage, exterior wall cladding or roofing of buildings, automotive interiors and trim, electronics and many other consumer goods. Coastal applications are another great use. Boat deck rails have been made from anodized aluminum for years. Another interesting use is for formed parts; with coil anodized aluminum, in the hands of a skilled former, you will get very minimal visual crazing.

You can watch our vodcast about the key distinctions between anodized and painted aluminum for metals in construction below.