What is an RAL finish?

​​A RAL finish is a type of paint coating that is commonly used on a variety of products, including external lighting fixtures such as lanterns and lamp posts. RAL finishes provide a durable and long-lasting coating that can help to protect the underlying material and enhance the overall appearance of the product.

Here we explain how they work, what to consider and the benefits an RAL finish can provide.

What does RAL stand for?

RAL stands for “Reichs-Ausschuss für Lieferbedingungen” which translates to “Imperial Commission for Delivery Conditions” in English. Originally, it was a German colour standardisation system that was first established in 1927, and it is still widely used today for colour matching and quality control in various industries, including paint and coatings, plastics, and architectural and industrial design. The RAL colour system includes a total of 213 colours that are each identified by a unique four-digit code.

Different RAL finishes

There are several different types of RAL finish.  Each has its own unique properties and benefits. Some of the most common types include:

  • RAL Classic: This is the most popular type of RAL finish and is known for its high level of colour accuracy and consistency. It is also highly resistant to fading and weathering, making it ideal for use on outdoor lighting fixtures.
  • RAL Effect:This type of finish is designed to create a unique and interesting visual effect, such as a metallic or pearl-like appearance. It can be used to add a touch of elegance and sophistication to external lighting fixtures.
  • RAL Design: This type of finish is designed to be highly customisable, with a wide range of colours and effects available. It can be used to create a unique and personalised look for external lighting fixtures.
  • RAL Durable:This type of finish is designed for use on products that will be exposed to harsh conditions, such as high humidity or extreme temperatures. It is highly resistant to corrosion and wear and tear, making it ideal for use on outdoor lighting fixtures and salty or marine environments.

Lantern with red RAL finish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The benefits of an RAL finish

In addition to their aesthetic benefits, RAL finishes can also provide a number of practical benefits for external lighting products such as lanterns and lamp posts.

For example, they can help to protect the underlying material from damage caused by weathering and exposure to the elements. They can also help to increase the overall lifespan of the product, reducing the need for costly repairs or replacements.

Overall, RAL finishes are an excellent choice for external lighting products such as lanterns and lamp posts. There is a wide range of colours, styles and effects available  that can help to enhance the overall appearance of the product and provide a durable and long-lasting coating that can help to protect it from damage caused by weathering and exposure to the elements.

What are the alternatives to an RAL finish?

There are several alternatives to RAL finishes, depending on the specific application and desired properties. Some of the most common alternatives include:

  • Powder coating: This is a type of coating that is applied as a dry powder and then cured under heat. It is known for its durability, resistance to weathering, and ability to produce a smooth, even finish.
  • Anodising: This finish is applied to aluminium and other non-ferrous metals. It creates a hard, corrosion-resistant oxide layer on the surface of the metal that can be dyed in a wide range of colours.
  • Galvanising:This is a type of finish that is applied to steel and other ferrous metals. It involves immersing the metal in a bath of molten zinc, which creates a protective zinc coating on the surface of the metal.
  • Electroplating: This finish is applied by immersing the metal in an electrolytic solution and passing an electrical current through it. This causes a thin layer of metal to be deposited on the surface of the product, which can be used to protect it from corrosion or provide a decorative finish.
  • Epoxy coating: This coating is applied as a liquid that hardens to form a durable, protective layer. Epoxy coatings are resistant to chemicals and impact, and can be used in a wide range of environments.
  • Acrylic coating: This finish is applied as a liquid and forms a hard, durable, and weather-resistant coating on the surface of the lantern. It is often used for architectural, industrial and commercial applications.

 

Each of these alternatives have their own benefits and drawbacks and are suitable for different types of applications, depending on the desired properties.  These may include:

  • Durability
  • Weather resistance
  • Colorfastness
  • Aesthetic appeal. 

 

It’s important to evaluate your specific requirements and the application of the fitting to make sure you choose the appropriate finish for your requirements.  Don’t worry though!  Our expert team at William Sugg will guide you through the options and suggest the best one for you.

Heritage lanterns with RAL paint finish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can RAL finishes be applied to any metal?

RAL finishes are typically applied to metal surfaces, such as steel, aluminium, and other non-ferrous metals. However, the specific application process and the suitability of the RAL finish may vary depending on the type of metal and the condition of the surface.

For example, RAL finishes are commonly used on steel products, such as outdoor lighting fixtures and architectural products, due to their durability and resistance to weathering. They can also be used on aluminum products, although a different type of paint or coating may be needed to ensure proper adhesion to the aluminium surface.

However, some metals are not suitable for RAL finishes due to their chemical composition or surface condition. For example, copper and brass can react with certain types of paint and coatings, causing discolouration or other issues. Similarly, some metals may have a surface that is too rough or irregular to allow for an even application of the RAL finish.  You can find out more about copper finishes in a separate post.

Looking for more help with RAL finishes?

It is important to consult with a professional or the manufacturer of the RAL finish to ensure that it is suitable for the specific type of metal and application.

Want to know more?  Get in touch with our team of experts today, we’d be happy to help.