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How Do I Clean Powder Coated Aluminum Patio Furniture?

Cleaning powder-coated aluminum furniture would seem like a relatively straightforward thing to do at first glance – and after doing some research it turns out that it is.

Cleaning powder-coated aluminum patio furniture is simple. Chemical cleaning products will damage powder coating, so just use some mild dishwashing soap, water, and a sponge. For really dirty furniture, you can use a pressure washer as this won’t cause any damage.

In this article we’re going to consider in more detail how to wash your powder coated aluminum furniture – and answer some other common questions related to this process…

How Do I Clean Powder Coated Aluminum Patio Furniture?

How Do You Clean Powder Coated Aluminum Outdoor Furniture?

Cleaning powder-coated outdoor furniture is easy. Harsh chemicals will damage powder coating, so just use some mild dishwashing soap, water, and a sponge. For really dirty furniture, power washing won’t damage the durable powder coating.

To clean powder coated furniture, first give it a rinse with a hose or power washer. Then, mix up a bucket of warm water and some mild dishwashing soap. Sponge down or use a soft brush to apply the soap. Then rinse. 

To protect outdoor furniture, many experts recommend using car wax to protect it. Apply the car wax just like your car, rubbing it on and then wiping off the residue.

Powder coating has been around for decades, since the 1960s. Powder coating is so durable because it’s baked on. A good quality powder coating will make your furniture rust proof, heat-resistant, and fade-resistant. 

Powder coating is thicker and stronger than paint – one coat of powder is equal to 3 coats of paint – so it will resist chips and scratches.

Fences, stairways, handrails, car parts, outdoor lighting fixtures, guardrails and outdoor furniture can all be powder coated. 

Most metals, like aluminum, copper, titanium, steel, and brass can be powder coated. Wood, glass, fiberboard, plastic, and many composite materials can also be powder coated.

Powder coating is a dry coating process that involves several lengthy steps. The object needs to be clean and roughed up so the coating will stick. So, the furniture is sandblasted. Then, it’s dipped in a degreaser.

The powder coating is applied using an electrostatic sprayer. Then, into the oven. Most outdoor furniture is heated to around 300° F. 

Here’s a video showing the process.

There are four main types of powder coating: epoxy, polyester, fluoropolymers, and urethanes. Epoxy is used primarily indoors because it fades in the sun. Polyester is the most commonly used powder coating. It is found on most outdoor furniture because it’s very durable against corrosion, UV weathering and most cleaning chemicals.

Fluoropolymers are also used outdoors. They hold colors well and are corrosion resistant. Urethane is a cousin to polyester, but they are harder – less flexible. They are also more expensive than polyester powders.

Powder coating is surprisingly environmentally friendly. The process has no harmful emissions.

How Do You Clean Oxidized Powder Coated Aluminum?

To clean oxidation off your patio furniture, you can use a DIY vinegar mix or there are several products available online or big box hardware stores. If you buy a product, make sure that it’s specifically for powder coatings, because many harsh chemicals will damage them

If a cleaner is too harsh for your bare hands – the label recommends using gloves – then it’s too harsh for your powder coating too.

Clean your furniture first. For a small amount of dirt, mix up some mild dishwashing soap in a bucket of water. Use a sponge or soft brush to gently clean the furniture and then rinse off the soapy water. 

For dirtier furniture, experts say it’s OK to use a power washer on powder coated furniture, because it’s tough.

Let the furniture dry. Then, mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a bucket. Use a sponge or soft cloth to rub away the oxidation.

Protect your furniture from further oxidation by rubbing car wax into the furniture. Wipe away the dry waxy residue with a microfiber cloth. Doing this maintenance yearly or even every two years should prevent any more oxidation.

How Long Does Powder Coating Last?

Most experts agree that a good quality powder coating will last between 15 and 20 years. It is much more durable than paint.

How Do You Remove Powder Coating? (Does it Come Off?)

Yes, it does come off, but it’s not easy to DIY it. You can strip powder coating with chemicals, sandblast it or use sandpaper on small areas

If you have large areas of damaged powder coating and you need to strip the entire piece of furniture, experts say that stripping chemicals are the easiest way

The downside is that chemical strippers are very harsh chemicals. They will burn your skin on contact, and the fumes are hazardous. 

Be sure to protect yourself and the surface of your patio or lawn. Use the stripper in a well-ventilated place. Keep kids and pets away.

First try out the stripper in a hidden area. Make sure you can get the results you want before applying it to the entire piece of furniture. Apply the stripper with a disposable brush and let it work for the recommended times. 

The powder coating should loosen and bubble up. Then, use a rag to wipe it off.

You may have to apply the chemical stripper several times to get all the detailed areas of your lawn furniture. Here’s a video of the powder coating of an engine part being chemically stripped.

If chemicals aren’t for you, then you can sandblast large areas or whole pieces of furniture. Sandblasters are like power washers – sooooo satisfying. Also, like power washers, sandblasters can do damage to you, your kids, pets and other areas of your house or garden, so maintain control.

If you don’t already have a sandblaster, check out rental stores in your area. Do some research on the best blasting medium to sandblast a powder coating. Medium sand usually works best.

Sandblasting is best done on days without wind. On a sunny, calm day, choose your sandblasting spot. Choose an area that’s protected, where you can’t sandblast something else accidentally, like a wall or your rose garden. 

Wear protective eyewear and clothing. Wear a mask to protect your lungs from dust. Keep kids and pets away.

Read all the instructions for the blaster, then spread tarps under your furniture. Test out the sandblaster on a hidden area of your furniture. You should blast until you see bare metal. When you are happy with the results, sandblast all the furniture. 

When you’re finished sandblasting, rinse off the furniture and let it dry. For bare metal, use a primer first or use a spray that has primer.

If you just have small areas – like chips or scratches – that need some touching up, then try sanding. Paint won’t stick to powder coating without some roughing up. Use a medium grade sandpaper. 

The edges of a sanding sponge will work well for thin scratches. Try not to sand areas that don’t need it because the paint won’t last as long as the original powder coat.

Get some primed, exterior furniture spray that matches. Mask off the area so the spray paint is applied to the damaged areas only or use a liquid, primed, exterior paint and apply it with a small paint brush.

How Do You Restore Faded Powder Coating?

Powder coating is tough, but even powder coating needs some TLC. To restore faded powder coated furniture, try some car wax. Or you can buy some powder coating polish.

Choose a sunny day. First, clean your furniture with some dish washing soap in a bucket of warm water. Use a spray nozzle on a hose or a power washer to wash all the dirt and soap off. Then, let the furniture dry.

It’s always a good idea to start any project with a small, out-of-the-way area. Once you are satisfied with the results, do the entire piece of furniture. 

To do the small area, use a microfiber cloth or sponge to apply a small amount of car wax or polish to your furniture and rub it in. Just like your car. 

Rub the wax on all powder coated surfaces and let it dry. Then, wipe off the wax residue. Be sure to get big wax blobs off the furniture as they will harden in the heat of a sunny day.

Powder coated aluminum

Final Thoughts

So as we first thought before looking into this – cleaning your powder coated aluminum patio furniture is relatively easy if you just stay away from those harmful chemical cleaning products.

Just get some mild dishwashing soap, a bucket of water, and a sponge, and get stuck in – and if that doesn’t shift all the dirt then you can also turn to the pressure washer without damaging your furniture.

Phew! It’s great to know that one job on the list of household chores is not that hard! 🙂

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >