Wire Decking Coating Guide: Galvanized vs. Powder-Coated vs. Painted

Wire decking is a critical element of any pallet racking system. The cross-hatch wire mesh provides the support needed to store loads reliably while allowing light and air transfer, a benefit for various storage applications. But not all wire decking is created equal.

Not only can build quality vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but there are different coatings that each come with unique advantages and, of course, disadvantages. What are these different types of coatings? How can you choose the right one for your facility’s needs? Those are the questions we’ll be exploring today.

Different Wire Deck Coatings: The Basics

Pallet rack wire decking might appear at first glance as a basic accessory of a pallet racking system. But, under the surface, there are a variety of considerations that can have an impact on not only the efficacy of the decking choice but also its longevity.

The most common coating options you’ll find on the market today include:

  • Galvanized (also known as zinc-coated)
  • Epoxy-based powder coated
  • Painted

Each option here will offer different benefits in terms of strength, resistance to environmental factors, and cost. Before you start shopping around for the right decking choice for your facility, it’s important to understand what each coating type offers. Not only will it help you uncover how each type of decking will play into your daily operations, but having a grasp of overall costs will help you better plan a budget for your pallet racking system. Let’s dive a little deeper into this topic.

Painted Wire Decking

First on our list is painted wire decking. Relative to other options, painted decking is one of the more basic and cost-effective decking choices. This type of decking receives a coating of industrial paint, and it’s often the case that they can be customized to meet the aesthetic needs of your warehouse.

While cost-effective, you get what you pay for. Painted wire decks are prone to chips, scratching, and peeling over time. This is especially true for high-traffic facilities with fast-rotating stock, which can speed up the wear and tear on painted decks.

Powder-Coated Wire Decking

Powder-coated decks go through a dry finishing process called electrostatic dry deposition. Basically, a dry mixture of polymer resins, often epoxy, is applied through a spray gun using an electrostatic charge that binds the mixture to the wire.

The powder coating process is longer lasting and more durable relative to regular painting. Moreover, the paint doesn’t hinder the deck’s flexibility, allowing it to withstand vibration without cracking. However, this process is more time-consuming and expensive, which drives up the cost.


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Galvanized Wire Decking

Last on our list is galvanized, also known as zinc-coated wire decking. Instead of paint or powder-coating, these decks leverage a dipping process in hot molten zinc. During this galvanization process, the zinc binds to the steel wire.

This helps prevent corrosion and wear, much more so than other coating options. As a result, this type of deck coating is much more durable but also the most expensive. 

Coating Performance

So, how do these coatings stack up against each other? Luckily, research from decking manufacturer J&L Wire tells a pretty compelling story. They put these popular wire deck coatings up to the test in several key experiments. They are:

  • Bend testing
  • Abrasion testing
  • Salt-spray test

In the bend test, painted and powder-coated wire failed after bending around a mandrel equal to the diameter of the test sample. Galvanized wire, on the other hand, passed without any visible cracks. It was found that the chemical bond that binds both the painted and powder-coated wire was insufficient to handle the bending stress. The galvanized coating, which binds through a metallic bond, did not.

During the abrasion test, a pallet loaded with around 1,500 pounds was pulled across the decking for a total of 50 times. In the end, there was visible wear on both the painted and powder-coated decking, but not the galvanized. 

The salt spray test also presented similar results. Here, the worn samples from the abrasion test underwent a laboratory salt spray analysis. Both the painted and powder-coated deck saw visible red rust after 24 hours of exposure. The galvanized deck, however, only presented signs of white rust and minimal red rust spots.

Choosing the Right Coating for Your Needs

So, what does all this research mean? Well, for the most part, galvanized wire decking, as well as galvanized pallet racks, are the preferred choice for most storage applications. It’s far more durable and long-lasting. It’s an excellent choice for a variety of applications: 

  • Outdoor storage environments
  • Indoor storage environments
  • Cold storage environments
  • Sanitary environments where regular cleanings are needed
  • Environments where regular maintenance is difficult

But, this strength and durability come at a cost. If the price of galvanized options is stressing your budget, the next best choice would be powder-coated decking. 

While best for indoor use, it can also work well in outdoor environments. The high level of durability helps powder-coated decking maintain color and gloss while being more environmentally friendly and sustainable relative to paint-coated decks.

If the price of galvanized options is stressing your budget, the next best choice would be powder-coated decking. 

If both powder-coated and galvanized options are off the table, regular paint-coated decks will still offer some level of strength and durability, although not as much as those other options. Paint-coated decks will show wear and tear much quicker. They’ll also need regular maintenance and touch-ups on the paint coating to help prevent rust.

Explore Your Wire Decking Options with East Coast Storage Equipment

If you’re searching for the perfect wire decking for your facility, you have a few options. Between paint, powder-coating, and galvanized steel, galvanized wire decks offer the most in terms of durability and longevity. But they’re also the most expensive. 

Ultimately, you’ll need to weigh your budget against your needs to find the right decking choice for your business. If you’re searching for a reputable supplier to meet all your equipment needs, look no further than East Coast Storage Equipment. We carry a wide selection of both used and new wire decking. Get in touch today to learn more about your options or if you need help finding the right decking for your facility.

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