The hassle of the painting process is a struggle that is well known to homeowners, landlords, and their friends and family alike.
Depending on the size of the room, the operation can take a solid chunk of the day or even up to several weeks if the project is large enough.
On top of the time commitment, choosing the right type of paint and paint applying tools is no easy task either – latex and oil-based paints seem to leave all sorts of imperfections from bubbles and can peel, while rollers and brushes, no matter their quality, will tend to leave streaks.
Unsurprisingly, paint innovators have come up with an ingenious solution for these problems by employing electrostatic spray paints to get the job done.
The primary idea behind electrostatic paint is a tried-and-true tactic that also happens to work well in the realm of dating – opposites attract.
In spite of this simplistic idea, electrostatic paints are a bit more complex in reality and have consistently proven to be an effective way to paint without producing flaws like the paints that came before.
What is Electrostatic Painting?
As mentioned before, the electrostatic painting was developed and works because of the adage that “opposites attract”.
This phrase pops up frequently in science classes and is the driving force for describing how magnets work.
The negatively charged molecules of one object, usually metal surfaces and/or metallic substances, are attracted to the positively charged molecules of the magnet.
The resulting interaction has the two pulling objects pulling towards one another to connect with one another.
This is the same exact principle that drives electrostatic paints.
How Does Electrostatic Spray Painting Work?
The electrostatic spray-paint molecules are positively charged and the molecules that line the wall are relatively negatively charged.
The attraction here is incredibly strong which heavily reduces the likelihood that any sort of bubbles will form, or peeling can occur.
What truly sets electrostatic paints apart is a combination between these attractive qualities and the repulsive qualities of the paint molecules themselves.
Of course, the paint molecules are intrinsically attracted to the wall due to the stark difference between the charge of their molecules.
This enables a strong bond to be formed between the two which creates a smooth, unobstructed surface that looks beautiful compared to traditional paints.
The second aspect of this paint is that since all this electrostatic coating is positively charged, the individual droplets will be propelled away from one another and almost literally seek out the negatively charged surface.
Such attraction prevents the paint from being over-sprayed onto certain areas and creates an even coating across the surface.
You’ll still have to ensure you’re pointing the spray gun over a relatively even area yourself, but this process is more or less automatic and can be done with ease.
In the end, the final result will be leagues better than if it were done using normal spray-painting methods.
How to Do Electrostatic Spray-Painting at Home?
The electrostatic method of spray painting involves the usage of specialized equipment like an HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) sprayer gun.
Before spraying any paint on the final surface, makes sure to test your sprayer and the fan pattern.
You will need to turn on the electrostatic and perform the test to ensure the sprayer is spraying the paint as it should.
When consulting a professional painter, it would be rare to find one that goes into a project without a game plan of some sort.
Therefore, for using electrostatic spray paints at home, the same principles must be applied.
A relatively streamlined process looks something like this:
- Inspect the Surface
- Mask the Area
- Ground Metals
- Apply Paint
- Clean Masked Area
Once this has been completed, it is advised not to go near the surface for at least 24 hours in order for it to cure.
It may dry faster than this, but this will ensure nothing goes wrong.
What are the Benefits of Electrostatic Painting?
There are several other pros aside from creating a more even surface, though this is a huge benefit in itself.
Regardless, here are some of the other primary reasons that electrostatic painting can be preferable to normal paints and coating processes.
Electrostatically painted surfaces aren’t impervious to damage.
However, they are non-porous, which makes it difficult for other substances to get into and damage the paint itself.
This makes such painted surfaces easy to maintain over their lifespan and can be cleaned off in seconds.
2- Increased Value
Using this type of paint is akin to making an investment that you’ll expect a decent return on investment.
Electrostatic paints and the accompanying materials are on the expensive side to purchase.
The benefit comes in later because it will ultimately increase the property of the property and/or section being painted.
3- Less Product Lost
Due it the attraction/repulsion aspects of this paint, less paint will need to be used as a result.
Electrostatic paint will work automatically to find sections of the surface that aren’t yet covered instead of piling onto painted areas.
This also produces an even painted surface that looks like it was done by a professional, just without the cost or the same level of effort is necessary.
Compared to traditional paints, electrostatic paint dries rapidly, poses few health concerns, and is easy to apply even for beginners.
Hence it is best to use for wrought iron fencing, outdoor equipment, antique bathtubs, and even your old kitchen appliances like refrigerators or ovens.
Along with the convenience, these coatings provide an ample amount of protection for the surface being painted.
Unlike other paint jobs, electrostatic paints can actually refurbish the surface it’s being applied to.
At the end of a surface’s life, it can feel like it will have to be entirely replaced in order to look good again.
Fortunately, these paints essentially subvert the replacement process by making them look good as new once the painting has been completed.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Electrostatic Spray Painting?
Yes, there are a few downsides that do exist with electrostatic spray painting.
While you should be aware of them, it’s good to know that these drawbacks easily outweigh the advantages – making these coatings one of the most favorable for many industries and households.
Some of these cons include:
- Requires proper skills and training
- Higher cost of buying new equipment and training employees
- Faraday cage effect – that usually happens when coating tight angles or corners
The higher cost of electrostatic painting is one of the major drawbacks due to which many DIYers and professional painters fend off this process.
A traditional painter will usually bill $35 to $55 per hour for the labor done.
Since this cost does not include the materials needed, you should expect to pay anywhere from $60-$80 per hour for a professional electrostatic spray job.
The estimates may however increase or decrease based on:
- The accessibility of the worksite
- The size and complexity of the project
- Surface material to be painted and surrounding objects
Is electrostatic painting safe?
Electrostatic painting requires spray materials such as liquid paint, powders, and flock.
Most of these materials are flammable and can cause an ignition hazard if used incorrectly or impulsively.
Plus, the process also requires applying high voltages that can become a high risk of getting an electric shock to a person especially if he/she is not trained well.
Can you paint over electrostatic paint?
Painting over an existing electrostatic paint coating is possible and can benefit when you need to repair the cracked or damaged surfaces.
The type of materials used and the extent of damage should however be considered before you plan to put the coating over already coated surfaces.
What is the difference between electrostatic painting and powder coating?
Electrostatic painting is many times confused with powder coating.
But the fact is these two coatings are not the same but different.
The key difference between electrostatic painting and powder coating lies in the state of the paint that is being applied.
While electrostatic painting uses liquid paint that dries on the surface easily, powder coating uses a powder that needs to be cured at a very high temperature in the oven.
The electrostatic paint spraying process works so well because of the aspects described before: the paint particles are positively charged and are effortlessly attracted to the negatively charged, grounded surface particles.
The attraction will cause the paint to spread across the surface seamlessly and dry in 24 hours.
In actuality, the electrostatic painting process creates a paint job that encompasses the absolute best outcome for spray paints without any of the messiness that accompanies it.
If you have not tried it yet, you should definitely give it a try when planning your home renovation next time.
Since the process can be complex if you do not have the right knowledge, I recommend getting the help of a professional painter to get the job done right.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.