Introduction: Restoring Porch Lights

Restoring Porch Lights
Old Rusty Porch Lights made new again, I made it at TechShop (Pittsburgh location).

So, a few years ago I purchased the pictured porch lights at Home Depot.  They were nice brushed stainless steel looking lights. Even better that they were on clearance for around 10 bucks each and were going to replace some really ugly ones that came with the house.  I quickly found out why they were likely on clearance – they rusted very, vey quickly.  I was preparing to replace them about the time I took the Sand Blast and Power Coating SBU at Tech Shop Pittsburgh… and a light went off!

www.techshop.ws

Step 1: Materials List

Items needed:
• Time & patience (a rare commodity here)
• Tech shop membership or access to a media blaster and power coating equipment
• Wrench and pliers
• Safety glasses and respirator or mask of some kind
• Paper & pen , camera, or a good memory so you know how to put your lights back together
• Plastic gloves & welding or heat resistant gloves
• Power coat pain (I ordered mine “extruded aluminum” and “flat clear coat” from powderbythepound.com)
• TSP or Simple Green

Step 2: Steps 1 - 5

Step 1: Pick and order your power coat.
Step 2: Assemble all your items from the “items needed list”.
Step 3: Disassemble your lights taking special care to document what you are doing, where and how each of the parts go. This is one of the steps where patience is required.
Step 4: Collect the parts that are going to receive power coating and take them to the media blaster.  This step is where the time comes it. I highly recommend planning to spend much more time than you anticipate on this step.  I probably had about 3 hours of sand blasting on these lamps.
Step 5: Once you have your parts nicely blasted removing all the rust, you want to avoid touching them with your bare hands and contaminating the surface with oil from your skin. I used some blue rubber gloves…like the kind your doctor on. Now you want to rinse off all the media, dust, and residue from blasting. If your parts are made of aluminum, you can use simple green.  Mine were steel in this case, so I used TSP (available at Home Depot in the paint section). The TSP will help to prevent rust forming on the surface of steel during the next step. I found this out the hard way.

Step 3: Step 6 - 9

Step 6: Once your parts are rinsed, you now want to hang them in the power coat oven to preheat. This will help the power coat adhere to the surface. It also helps to dry of the moisture from the previous step. This is a good opportunity to make sure you are getting you pieces set up on hooks where you can easily get them in and out of the oven without touching them (or the oven’s insides – they are hot!)  This is really a critical step and requires patience, because if you bump them after applying power it comes off and you have to start over and fix.
Step 7: Now that your parts are preheated, move them to the powder coat booth.  Make sure your respirator is on. Turn on the fan, light, and powder coat gun. Now we are at the fun part, pull the trigger and coat your parts. Once coated, gently return them to the oven and bake/cure them at the temperature and time required by the selected power. Mine was 450 degrees for 15 minutes.
Step 8: Open the oven door and admire!  You now have the option to move them back to the booth and give them a second coat. In my case I changed powder to a flat clear.
Step 9: Once you have finished coating to your satisfaction, let the parts have cool to the touch. Now it is time to take them back to the work bench for reassembly. This is where your documentation comes in handy, especially if this has taken more than one day to complete. It took me about 3 days over a couple of weeks.

Step 4: Conclusion

Congratulations!  You no longer need to replace your porch lights, and this time they will look good for a lot longer thanks to the powder coating.

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