Staying neutral

John Park-Davies
John Park-Davies

By John Park-Davies, group MD, Vertik-Al.

As one of the UK’s largest independent powder coaters we have exceptional insight into colour usage and trends in the UK architectural aluminium industry. Looking at our usage data for the last 200,000kg of powder we have sprayed onto thousands of pieces of aluminium, the results are interesting and informative.

Over a relatively short period we have used 847 colours. Neutral colours have dominated in recent years, so I find it very refreshing to see that some specifiers and consumers are choosing to depart from the norm and use more of the colour spectrum.

That said, anthracite grey RAL 7016 matt remains resolutely popular and accounts for over 17% of the 200,000kg, putting it firmly in the top spot.

We are all aware of the enduring popularity of grey but even I am surprised by the volumes. Our top 10 colours sprayed account for almost 43% of all powder used and it comprises entirely neutral tones.

Jet black holds the second and fourth position, equating to 9% of usage. Still, this is almost half that of grey.

However, both are indicative of usage trends. The top 10 is split equally, 50/50, by grey tones and black and white hues.  This doesn’t alter in fact until position 19 with the introduction of Anodic Steel Bronze.

Looking at the top 50, all bar six entries are variations of grey, white or black, in a matt, satin or gloss.  But don’t get too excited, the six are still a variation on this theme, either brown or cream.

What’s most pleasing is the rise of the matt metallic finish. ‘White aluminium’ RAL 9006, ‘pearl beige’ RAL 1035, ‘anodic steel bronze’, and ‘anodic bronze’ all feature as matt metallics in our top 50.

And what about the other end of our interesting colour chart? Of the 800+ colours used, for each one ranked above 220 we’re talking low numbers, less than five boxes of powder.

Our least popular colour is ‘stone effect sablé’ RAL Y4312 with just 0.0005% usage. We’ve talked often about the availability of different textures and finishes and while usage is low, it’s encouraging to see that some customers are choosing powder coated alternatives to natural stone.

There’s also more diversity at this end of the scale. Grey is ever-present but it’s outnumbered by bolder colours such as ‘tomato red’ RAL 3013, ‘signal green’ RAL 6032 and one of my personal favourites, ‘mint turquoise’ RAL 6033.

Matt metallic and textured powders also feature in strong accent colours including ‘pearl orange’ RAL 2013 and ‘pearl night blue’ RAL 5026.

The greys are more suggestive too. ‘Grey brown’ RAL 8019 has only a hint of grey, for example. In fact, it is categorised as a brown from the RAL Classic Colour Range.