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What Is Ceramic Coating?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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A ceramic coating is typically a high-gloss, chrome-like appearing finish that is applied to exhaust system components, pistons, aluminum cylinder heads and valves, and a myriad of other under-hood engine components. Valued for eliminating heat as well as providing visual appeal and a tough durable finish, ceramic coating aids in boosting horsepower from an engine by increasing exhaust flow and maintaining lower engine temperatures. When applied to the exterior as well as the interior of exhaust manifolds and tubular headers, the ceramic coating not only provides a chrome-like finish, but it also allows the exhaust to flow faster through the system, thereby reducing power loss and temperatures. When applied to piston tops, intake and exhaust valve faces and the combustion chamber of cylinder heads, it creates a smooth finish that promotes better combustion as well as adds strength to the coated components.

While ceramic coating is available in other colors, the high-luster silver or chrome is the most popular. Originally advertised as a tough, durable finish that would retain its brilliant luster without bluing, cracking or peeling, ceramic coating is a hit with hot rodders and car customizers for the visual appeal it offers to the exhaust system of an engine. Further testing and research showed that the ceramic coating not only increased the exhaust flow through the headers, but also reduced the under-hood temperatures and aided in building increased horsepower.

The high strength of the ceramic coating is also being applied to the top of pistons, where it helps to promote a smoother and faster flame travel throughout the combustion chamber. This not only adds to the horsepower output, but also gives strength to the top of the pistons and protects them from damage in the event of detonation and over-heating. Engine builders soon realized the added benefits of applying ceramic coating to the valve faces and the combustion chambers of aluminum heads.

Glass-top stoves also take advantage of these benefits and use a ceramic coating. Glass-top stoves use a ceramic coating to protect the heated surface from damage and make the stove top more durable. Since glass-top stoves are a little different from traditional stoves, you have to use special cookware for glass-top stoves. Stoves aren't the only household items that use ceramic. Smartphone screens are another common use for ceramic, as well as other pieces of everyday technology. 

The ceramic coating is applied to the part by spraying or brushing and is then allowed to dry. Once dry, the ceramic-coated part is placed into an oven and baked at a very high temperature. This cures the coating and actually bonds it to the coated part. Once baked, the coating is polished to a long-lasting luster that will resist bluing, fading, cracking and peeling. This coating is also applied to other components, such as suspension parts and even wheels, for those searching for a durable high-luster finish that is relatively maintenance-free.

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Discussion Comments
By anon305620 — On Nov 26, 2012

Will the high temp used in curing ceramic coating change the metallurgy of the WCB material, on which the ceramic coating is to be done?

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