The Care and Maintenance of Mulholland Brand Powder-Coated Surfaces

Rainy Day with Mulholland Brand Gate
Rainy Day with Mulholland Brand Gate
Mulholland Brand fences, gates, and pergolas are much more resilient to the weather and corrosive conditions than wood or iron.

Your aluminum product purchased from Mulholland Brand is more resilient than what you would get from virtually any of our competitors.  It’s been designed and engineered to serve you even without care. In any environment: rainy, icy, orat the oceanside, It’s going to last longer than wood or iron products even if you just leave it alone!  But we encourage some occasional maintenance even so.

Here we offer some tips that will increase the longevity of your Mulholland product, even well beyond our warranty.

By doing these few things, you can extend the life of your Mulholland Brand fence, gate, or pergola, and keep it beautiful.  Let’s go over the finish of your product first.

We finish nearly all of our products* with a very tough and resilient powder-coating. Powder-coating is electronically bonded and then baked onto the metal of your Mulholland Brand products.

What is Powder Coating?

Here is a succinct explanation from the Powder Coating Institute:

Powder coatings are based on polymer resin systems, combined with curatives, pigments, leveling agents, flow modifiers, and other additives.  These ingredients are melted, mixed, cooled, and ground into a uniform powder similar to baking flour.  A process called electrostatic spray deposition (ESD) is typically used to achieve the application of the powder coating to a metal substrate.  This application method uses a spray gun, which applies an electrostatic charge to the powder particles, which are then attracted to the grounded part.  After application of the powder coating, the parts enter a curing oven where, with the addition of heat, the coating chemically reacts to produce long molecular chains, resulting in high cross-link density. These molecular chains are very resistant to breakdown.  This type of application is the most common method of applying powders.

Mulholland Brand - Powder Coating Facility
Mulholland Brand - Powder Coating Facility
Powder Coating Aluminum - Los Angeles
Powder-coating is electronically bonded and then baked onto the metal of your Mulholland Brand products.

Powder-coating is tougher and more durable than any other finish that can be applied to a gate, fence, or pergola. But it is not indestructible. It will stand up to more abuse than any other standard finish, but you can damage it.

Don’t let your kids (or anyone else!) throw baseballs or rocks at it, or strike it with a baseball bat as an example!  As tough as our finish is, it might not stand up against a blow, such as a car striking it, or running into it with your power lawnmower!

And, it’s not “vandal-proof”. Like most anything, it can be harmed by anyone who deliberately or accidentally strikes it or uses force against it.  Unlike vinyl, heat from a nearby barbecue won’t damage it. But don’t purposefully try to catch it on fire!

Now that we have mischief-makers, bad drivers, and vandalism out of the way, let’s talk about more common things that compromise the durability of your gate, fence, or pergola.

As much as we know about powder-coating, there are people who are even more expert. In this article, we will quote extensively from an industry leader in powder coating, Lane Coatings. We are excerpting extensively from their authoritative article about the care and maintenance of powder-coated finishes. We’d just re-post the article here in its entirety, but there is much in the article that is not pertinent to our products, but more to items unlike ours. (If you want to learn about powder-coating steel products or parking bollards as well, then, by all means, read the entire article!

In this article that you are reading, all that is from Lane Coating’s article will be in italics, and not with quotation marks. Where we feel we can be of further help, you will find our comments in roman (“upright”).  

Powder coatings that are applied to metal products exposed to the weather will inevitably degrade over time.

A number of conditions, including those found in nature, will contribute to shortening the life of this type of protective finish.

These conditions are:

  • Sun
  • Rain
  • Wind
  • Pollution
  • Cold weather
  • Saltwater
  • Electrical current**
  • Dissimilar metals**

These are antagonists to any finish and not particular to powder-coating. Powder-coating will hold up to these better than paint or other finishes.

If you were to not pay any attention to our tips, your Mulholland Brand product would have a longer life span than products that are painted.

examples of Mulholland Brand Gates
If you were to not pay any attention to our tips, your Mulholland Brand product would have a longer life span than products that are painted.

The right type of care and maintenance is essential to combat the detrimental effects of the elements when finished parts are exposed to the sun, wind, rain, etc. No powder coating is entirely maintenance-free — over time, it will lose some (or all) of its decorative and protective properties due to the effects of weather and other influences.

So, what can you do to increase the life of the powder coating on your Mulholland Brand product?

With the right type of maintenance, you can increase the service life of the finish of powder-coated surfaces. The care and maintenance tips listed below can help to keep the repair and maintenance costs down for some items, as well.

Avoid Harsh Chemical Cleaners.

young girl holding cleaning materials

Powder coatings can be damaged by harsh solvents. A number of commercial cleaning products can cause damage to these types of finishes. Once the finish has become damaged, it is much more vulnerable to fading, staining, and failure of the finish itself. When harsh chemical cleaners are used on powder-coated surfaces, the life expectancy of the finish can reasonably be halved.

The service life of an organic finish cannot accurately be predicted due to the number of variables that can affect its ability to beautify and protect the surface where they have been applied. A professional finishing company would never even attempt to give a firm answer about any of the following:

How long a particular finish will last

The rate at which the coating will start to lose either its protective or decorative value

The rate at which values are lost

These are impossible to predict with any degree of certainty. Anyone who tells you they can give you a definitive answer is likely overreaching.

tired man with cleaning equipment

Do it for you?

Do you have enough to do without having to go out and maintain your gate, fence, or pergola?

We can do it for you! Call us or complete our contact form and we’ll work it out!

The right type of care and maintenance is essential to combat the detrimental effects of the elements when finished parts are exposed to the sun, wind, rain, etc. No powder coating is entirely maintenance-free — over time, it will lose some (or all) of its decorative and protective properties due to the effects of weather and other influences.

Proper Cleaning and Maintenance to Extend Effective Service Life.

While it may not be possible to map out the exact length of service life you can expect to get from fabricated products, you can extend their effective service life with the right cleaning and maintenance. It could double or even triple the coating’s effective service life.

For applications that will have a high visibility factor, such as ones being used in buildings, a prudent approach involves maintaining detailed maintenance records that include the dates of all cleanings, including the products and materials used. These records will be important in tracking the type of cleaners used to keep the surface of the material looking its best.

Pressure Cleaning

person wearing pressure cleaning boots

Pressure washing is likely the most efficient method of cleaning coated surfaces to remove dirt and grime. It can be used to clean bus shelters, commercial patio furniture and other outdoor surfaces. The pressure washer should be used in a low-pressure setting with filtered water. Don’t use unfiltered tap water or groundwater.

If you use unfiltered groundwater for cleaning, it can leave stains on the metal surface. If the water contains fluoride, sulfur, iron oxide or chlorine, they can stain outdoor products. One way to tell before starting to clean powder-coated surfaces is to examine the areas where the wind blows water from sprinkler systems. Stains and discoloration on other objects are a sign you will likely have to deal with the same on the powder-coated surfaces if you use the same water. Use filtered water only for this purpose.

Low pressure should be used for pressure-cleaning powder-coated metal surfaces. If the pressure is strong enough to cause the metal surface to shift its position, it may also the strong enough to damage the finish.

Use a Mild Soap and Water

use mild soap and water when cleaning gate

All powder coated products should be cleaned with either a soft cloth or a brush, using a solution of mild soap and warm water. The best type of soap to use for this purpose is one that has emulsifiers that can break down the most common types of stains.

Exposed surfaces of powder-coated products that are deemed the most critical should be cleaned regularly (on either a weekly or a bi-weekly schedule). These can be wiped down and rinsed with filtered water.

digital schedule

(These “certain weather conditions” in terms of adversely affecting the powder coating on Mulholland Products, are rain, snow, and humidity. Any weather condition bringing with it more moisture.)

A Word About Commercial Cleaning Solutions.

Commercial cleaning solutions have their place. Solvents and petroleum-based cleaning products are very effective at removing dirt and grease from surfaces. They are not the right choice for powder-coated surfaces, however. These types of cleaners will remove dirt, but they also remove layers of the finish from the surface of the object they are cleaning. Over time, the finish can become compromised.

The coating can become stiff and hard with repeated applications of these types of cleaners, and it will no longer be as effective at protecting the underlying surface. In some instances, the coating may begin to crack and fade. While it’s inevitable that coated surfaces that are exposed to the weather will undergo physical aging, exposure to harsh chemical products will only accelerate this process.

Protect the Exposed Surfaces With Wax.

Finished surfaces that will be handled or may come into contact with other objects will benefit from being treated with wax. Examples of these types of surfaces include the following:

Apply a light coating of high-grade non-abrasive car wax. Use a brand that contains a UV blocker or UV inhibitors. Do not use compound-type waxes for this purpose. This type of wax contains abrasives that can harm the powder coating.

Be sure to wipe off any globs of wax that remain on the surface. If any wax remains on the coated surface, it could bake into place when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light. This can cause permanent staining.

Tips for Caring for Powder Coated Fences and Gates

Powder coating is a very durable finish, but you can’t get away with treating it as though it doesn’t need any maintenance at all.

Certain weather conditions can have a negative effect on the coating over time, for example.

When dirt and grime build up in the joints and crevices of fences and gates, it can create a place where (a) bacterial condition gather(s)  and insects find a home. Both circumstances only serve to speed up the breakdown of the coating.

In coastal areas, saltwater can damage fences and gates situated close to the ocean.

If they are not thoroughly cleaned at least once a year to remove the buildup, salt will remain attached to the coating and dull its appearance, leaving it looking chalky. To extend the life of your fence and gate, you’ll need to make sure you clean it properly.

Start by wiping the surface gently with a wet sponge to remove any loose dirt and debris. You can also use a soft brush for this purpose. A wire brush would be too harsh since it would also remove the finish. Your goal is to remove most of the surface dirt and dust at this point.

To remove salt and any other deposits from the surface of the fence and gate, use a soft brush and a mild household detergent.

Choose a detergent that is free from both solvents and petroleum-based chemicals when cleaning your powder-coated fence. One way to tell whether the detergent you are considering is safe for a powder-coated surface is whether the product is safe for your hands. If you need to protect your skin by wearing gloves when using the product, it’s probably not safe for the surface of the gate, either.

Rinse the detergent off the fence or the gate using lukewarm water. At this point, you can allow it to either dry naturally or use a clean, dry cloth to dry it off if you would like to get a cleaner look.

Pressure Washing a Fence or Gate.

You can use a pressure washer to clean a fence or a gate. This method is less time-consuming than cleaning by hand — however, it does tend to leave more residue behind. If you are trying to clean a fence or a gate in a coastal area, it may be challenging to remove all the salt using a pressure washer.

Hard water can present the same problem, due to the minerals it contains. They build up and harden on the surface of the fence or gate and are difficult to remove, even with the pressure of the water. Detergent softens the water to make cleaning a much easier process.

How to Take Care of Powder Coated Surfaces Defaced by Graffiti

Graffiti can be removed from stainless steel using a biodegradable spray specially made for removing graffiti. Some companies carry specially treated wipes, which may be more convenient to use than sprays, depending on the amount of paint that needs to be removed. Do not use hard scraping tools to try to remove the graffiti, as this may damage the powder coating.

If you have any questions about how to care for powder-coated surfaces, or questions about the coating process in general, please contact us — we’d be happy to walk you through our methods.

* The only products that do not have a final coat of powder-coating are our Woodlike styles, our anodized aluminum railings, and the Fancy Fence gate that retracts into the ground. These products all have their own separate maintenance guides.

**Note that “Electrical current” and “Dissimilar metals” are mentioned in the Lane Coating article as conditions that “will contribute to shortening the life of this type of protective finish.” However, these conditions are not discussed any further in their article. 

Let’s discuss electrical current first.

I called Lane Coatings and talked with a technician there. First of all, I told him that this was in regards to fencing and gates, and we weren’t planning on running any electricity through these! I told him that I still wanted to understand to further my knowledge. 

The technician explained that there are a variety of different special use formulas used in powder-coating, and there isn’t an “all-purpose” formula that is a good fit for everything. 

There are coatings that are formulated particularly for insulation, and that an electrical current would not be a problem for these. But more commonly powder-coatings are not intended for use as electrical insulation. He explained that, if one were to pass electricity through a metal that was powder-coated with a formula not specifically intended for insulation, then the coating would be compromised and deteriorate. 

Interesting information! But not at all pertinent to our products. 

Dissimilar materials. 

There’s a lot of interesting information in regards to this as well, but all that is pertinent is to not associate steel with aluminum. These two materials don’t get along well with each other. In a corrosive environment particularly, steel connected or attached to aluminum will cause the aluminum to corrode quickly. 

Yet steel is frequently used with aluminum in construction. Typically aluminum fences and gates are supported by steel posts! We always install our gates and fences with steel posts.

The handling for this is to coat the steel with zinc. This is standard practice in construction in general, not just with fencing. The zinc coating prevents contact and stops corrosion. 


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