The real story behind painting trailers. When mass producing trailers the cheapest and most efficient way to paint car and equipment trailers is to use powder coating. First a powder coated equipment trailer is 100% dry when the process is completed. This makes it a bit easier for the rest of the workers to finish their portion of the trailer without damaging the paint. Also the flatbed trailer can be ready to ship the same day. Regardless of the paint method, paint prepping is the single most important part of the process. Raw steel used by car trailer manufacturers is coated in mill oils and milling scale. with out these oils the steel would be rusted in hours. Many trailer manufacturers simply paint and/or powder coat directly onto these oily steel trailers. The paint is likely to come off with in one year. One popular Florida based manufacturers brand new car trailers are often seen rusting at the dealership. That manufacturer powder coats their trailers.
Powder coating is great for small parts because they can be cleaned and etched very consistency and they can be heated consistently. There are several problems with powder coating a trailer. First its impossible to heat the trailer evenly. There are many parts of a trailer that are much thicker and others that are thinner. They don’t heat at the same rate. This degrades the quality of the paint job. The second big issue with powder coating equipment trailers is the suns rays. Powder coat is basically a melted plastic. It always fades and the sun makes it brittle. Once brittle is begins coming off in large flakes. It’s virtually impossible to sand blast and repaint because it just melts when sand blasted and makes a big mess.
The enamels in quality industrial and automotive paint can be treated with UV protectant additives which keep the car trailer from fading. Also if the paint is manufactured correctly for hot and humid environment it is easier to control the curing process and get the maximum bond. Enamel coating can be chipped off but typically does not flake off and keep running. Also, it is easy to touch up damaged areas.
So the big question is do you want a trailer that is going to stay nice looking longer or a trailer that is easier for the manufacturer to produce.
At Bigfoot Trailers we acid etch each trailer frame before the paint process begins. Once all the mills oils and rust have been removed. We put the trailer in a custom, automotive lift. This way the painter can paint the bottom and all the joints well. All trailers get painted with an very high end primer, then painted again with a high end UV treated enamel. The paint is specially formulated by the manufacturer for Bigfoot Trailers and the formula is changed during the different seasons to ensure optimum curing.
When buying a trailer look underneath; see if the crossmembers are painted, you’ll be amazed at how often you will find no paint at all.