Every automotive enthusiast prefers to do their own DIY paint jobs and the best header paint comes on the list when we talk about painting car engines. But in spite of this do you know what are headers in a car and how they actually work? well, probably not. In general terms, headers are also known as “exhaust manifolds“.
Headers are the stainless steel or metal units that help in transferring the exhaust gases from different cylinders into the exhaust pipe.
The headers are coated with the best exhaust manifold paint for high-temperature heat reduction because during the engine ignition the heat can reach up to thousands of degrees so painting headers can cool down its temperature. The list of best high temperature header paint will help you better understand functioning.
What are header paints and how they work?
Header Paints are the high-temperature ceramic paint designed especially for metal headers in order to prevent the surface from being rust. The head paint has adhesive bonding properties which help in maintaining the quality of the manifold even at excessive degrees temperature.
The factory pre-stored headers had ceramic stainless steel coating over it, but over time it started losing its originality due to the continuation of heat.
A good quality header paint always comes in spray models which can hold the temperature up to thousands of degrees celsius. Although cans are available, I prefer spray ones because they are affordable and cheap header paint and does not peel or chip easily.
So the list of best header paint given below can be used by beginners as well as professionals however each painting has its different adhesive properties so you can check the reviews as given below.
Best Header Paint Reviews & Comparison Table in 2021
Rust-oleum Black Header Paint is the best header paint with high temperatures. It comes with 4.7 Amazon ratings which can hold the heat up to 2000 Fahrenheit. These are specially designed for painting exhaust manifolds, headers, and much more.
This exhaust manifold paint is made up of enamel and oil-based formula which helps to bond easily with metals. The Paint comes in a spray model which means it is easy to use without any hassle. The primary object of Rust-oleum Paint is to remove gas or oil stick to the header surfaces and prevent it from being rust.
Its good quality of high temp header paint has the ability to absorb the heat up to 1093 degrees Celsius without chipping or peeling off paint. Because excess heat can ruin the whole header so the brand focuses on making it heat resistant.
This great header paint dries quickly in 30 minutes and you can apply the second coat after. However, there is no mention of ceramic coating which means you may require a good primer before painting.
- Rust-oleum is even far better than VLT Flameproof as we have tested till now.
- The durability of paint on headers is quite high.
- Coverage of up to 10 sq feet allows you to paint more in one go.
- Up-side down feature available and spray tip is very smooth.
- It works as motorcycle header paint.
- Not suitable for a fire pit because it cannot hold that much high temperature.
- You can use it as a grill paint but after some time it started losing color.
After using this for about 3 months we can predict rust-oleum reviews about this engine header paint. It works very well on my car engines and due to this, we have given its 1st position. We recommend you purchase a six-pack of paint option for a heavy discount.
The Eastwood High Temperature Exhaust Manifold Coating Header Paint comes second in our list because of its premium quality. It comes with a 4.9 Amazon rating because of its worldwide reviews. Eastwood header paint comes in two different units one the spray paint and the other one is can. We are doing spray paint reviews.
Eastwood high temp exhaust paint has the capability to withstand heat around 1400 degrees Fahrenheit which is perfect for restoring the headers metal surfaces back to their originality. These head paints are mainly designed to remove cast iron on surfaces and bond perfectly with aluminum.
Both are available aerosol and pits you have to decide whether you need to paint with a brush or just paint and go. All paints work the same and keep the exhaust manifold quality natural.
The high heat temperature of this Eastwood makes the best paint for exhaust headers. The heat resistant capacity is lower than the Rust-oleum, but it works perfectly in a heating environment without damaging the paint.
- Eastwood made the scratch and heat resistant paint.
- No cracking or peeling of paint even at extreme temperature.
- A premium product can be worked as an internal exhaust coating.
- May require a two-layer coat to show a better finish on headers.
- Different paint gallon oz sizes available.
- Coverage is only about 6sq feet which is very less.
If you are using this heat paint for headers then you are required to purchase 2 cans at least. However there is no maximum limit about purchasing the cheap header paint in bulk, the more you purchase the better it would be.
Every car owner once in their life must have used this Vht Flameproof best header paint. It is one of the most popular products on the painting list because of its high 2000 degree F heat resistant features. If you really want to make your exhaust manifolds heat resistant then you must apply its coating.
It has a perfect combination of primers and paints which means there is no need to prime your headers, piston, and manifolds. All the automotive engines are being used by VHT Flameproof coating to increase their life expectancy of engines.
This high temp ceramic header paint gives unbelievable adhesiveness with the metal surfaces and even cast iron. Removes dirt, small stick particles of gas, and much more. The paint dries up quickly and curing time is the fastest among all the brands.
To better matte finish three coatings are required at regular intervals each between a gap of thirty minutes. During the paint curing process after one step bake in the oven at 175-degree Celsius for 15 minutes to let the paint sit off on the surfaces
- Customization available according to your vehicle just mentions the car model at the time of placing the VHT FlameProof Coating Flat Black Paint Can order.
- Heat capacity lies between 700-1400 degrees Celsius.
- Prep work is easy as there is no involvement of primers.
- High-Heat coating with different color options available and dries very fast.
- A silicone ceramic-based header paints good for metal surfaces.
- Not recommended for painting grills or any other surfaces because later on, it starts chipping and which may disappoint.
- You can use paint on exhaust pipes but not for the fire pit.
While buying paints of VHT Flameproof it is always advisable to go through the detailed reviews and cross-check every aspect of the situation. We are continuously using this for many years and didn’t face any issues till now one more thing purchase more than two aerosols can or spray.
Primer is one of the most important things to consider if your paint does not have it included in it. The Primer has rich quantity ingredients that help paint adhere quickly. Priming before the paint on any surfaces can withstand the high temperature even if any humid environment.
Rust-oleum holds the lion’s share part in making the best automotive engine primers as we have discussed earlier. It can hold the heat up to 2000°F = 1093°C and the oil-based formula gets metals surfaces a finished look before top coating. As a pre-layer of primer over before painting can increase the durability of each surface by about 5 years as a universal fact.
The Rust-oleum Automotive High Heat Primer Spray Paint is made of rust based formula in order to cast iron. Spray paint is good for manifolds because you have to spray from different angles which you can do through this easily.
The spray nozzle tip is very soft, no external pressure requires that gives a longer time to do the job without being tired. Each time you spray you will get a smooth matte finish. Also, two coats are enough before moving further with header paint.
- You are always required to purchase a primer with a header paint.
- Good heating capacity even in Extreme temperatures.
- Increases the life of headers and exhaust pipes.
- Can be used on internal and external coatings.
- Holds the paint for a longer time.
- Even after following the proper applications, the primer one customer says turns yellow.
- In this case, two coats are never enough, just go for five coats at least.
We have used this Rust-Oleum Primer and in our case, it dries in 30 minutes and top coated in just one hour. Also, we really like the coverage which is about 12 sq feet. Overall the performance is very good if you are planning to purchase then go for a bundle edition that saves your extra bucks.
Thermo-Tec is one of the best header paint with high heat 2000 degree Fahrenheit resistances as its names suggest. It is one of the best solutions to protect the exhaust wrap from being abrasion and penetrating by harmful liquids. The ability to reduce heat is so effective and works as an exhaust wrap coating for a longer time.
Extra resins and binders make the surface tough also protect the wrap from fiction which helps in increasing the wrap life. Tiny poles can be easily filled using this best exhaust paint. It can be used directly on metals as there is no need to prime before using header wraps.
The Thermo-tec 12001 high heat coating is good for exhaust manifolds, mufflers, and etc. The brand does not disclose an ingredient and based formula that makes it difficult to predict.
The flashpoint of this paint is -104°C. Also, it does not fit in all types of vehicles you need to specify your car model.
- Enables longer life of exhaust wraps by protecting it from fiction.
- Control the heat up to 1093 degrees celsius.
- Fills the minor holes easily.
- Blocks the entry of harmful liquids into the exhaust wrap.
- CIt can be directly applied to metals.
- Bit Pricey.
- Not 100% accurate.
When we tested it works the spray paint works fine on our exhaust pipes, muffler, and manifold (headers). Also when you purchased this product the image shows two bottles but you will get only one black spray bottle. So keep this in mind and always buy a minimum of two bottles.
Helix racing products make the best exhaust manifold paint on the market. The paint is very high-temperature and comes in a black 50-inch volume bottle. The exhaust paint works fine under an extreme heat condition environment.
The helix header paint racing product contains the silica-based formula and ceramic coating in addition. Ceramic helps to coat fast on the exhaust and for a longer duration time. You will get resistance from oil and gas that keeps the header clean all the time.
It has some more features as you can even use it on radiators, fiber glasses, pipes, and etc. This a spray model, not a can which means you can do the work fast and only requires double coating. There is no need for primer and requires curing with heat.
The temperature of heat ranges about 2000 Fahrenheit calculated as 1093 degrees Celsius. There will be no peel or cracking of paint as suggested by the Helix brand.
- High-temperature paint 2000°F
- Even works on oil radiators.
- Made for manifolds, exhaust systems, and etc.
- Under budget header paint.
- No need for primer and dries quickly.
- Ceramic solid quality is not good as VHT Flameproof coating.
The final outcome of the product shows the black matte finish and our review about helix racing products is always good. The brand is trustable and you can rely on them easily. if you need customer reviews to read then you can head over to Amazon.
When we talk about actual heat paint for headers then how can we forget this black high-temperature can in a gallon. The POR-15 comes in an aerosol can and it can be applied using a brush and spray gun. Paint gallon cans are much easier to use and there is no wastage just as in the case of spray guns.
These are more above than regular paints because it has an oil-based formula that makes a strong bond of adhesive layer over the metal surfaces. So you do not have to worry about chipping and peeling off paint.
The paint is made for a high-temp humidity environment and can endure the heat around 1200°F. No matter what type of headers or exhaust manifold surface you are using it works well on metal objects.
This high-quality paint gives longer durability if applied using proper applications. Make sure to use sandpaper to remove the previous sticky paint or dirt over the headers. Cure time is about 4 hours which is very quick and the second coat must be applied under 24 hours.
- Three different paint color options available.
- It can be applied using a brush for stability and as well as sprayed.
- POR-15 offers different sizes to the customers.
- Chipping and peeling resistance.
- High temperature with high durability.
- Not suitable for extremely high temperatures.
We tested POR-15 High Temperature Paint thoroughly on every surface and concluded that it works very well on headers. If you are planning to buy then purchase two black cans at least to give a matte finish edge look.
Sometimes painting headers are not enough and you need to start looking for engine paint. Engine paint does not carry much heat but they required proper application for coating it. Engine paint has all ingredients the same as header paint but they are less temperature.
The Dupli-color Ceramic Engine Paint brand focuses on making the best white header paint for car engines. However, they endure heat up to 500°F but you can use it on an exhaust manifold easily. It has ceramic resin which gives a gloss finish and higher heat reduction.
The white color version helps to prevent dangerous automotive liquids from penetrating into the engine. They are worth trying for blocking engines. Paint has a quicker drying time of about 30 minutes which is actually good. Nozzles are very soft and work quite great.
With 60 years of Dupli-color in the automotive paint industry, they have achieved perfection in their field. They also guaranteed that it does not crack or peel off paint easily.
- More than 25 color options available including white color.
- The trustable brand for around sixty years.
- Perfect for blocked engines.
- Ceramic formulas with a high gloss finish.
- EZ touch nozzle.
- Only works as touch-up engine paint.
We used it as an engine paint because it does not specify exhausts and headers. Overall we feel the performance was the best out there. You can easily give it a try on our recommendation.
If you are looking for an all-in-one paint then this Design Engineering high temp silicone coating spray is for you only. It is one of the great paint for headers because at this price you won’t get many features at all. The paint can tolerate the heat of about 1500°F that is suitable for any type of surface.
The reason behind its high-temperature is HT silicone coating. These coatings are very unique and come in very models. It is perfect for exhaust wraps or manifolds to remove dirt, oil, or gases. This HT silicone coating is VOC type (Volatile Organic Compound) that is a complaint in 50 states as suggested.
Well talking about its titanium application is not made for that but it increases the longevity of exhaust wraps. You may require at least three coats to better finish off the cutting process. It is very easy to just put it in the oven or whatever for about 400°F approx 2 hours and then cool it down for the second coat.
If you purchase the model then go for a locking tie tool, it is a stainless steel tool designed for saving time and effort. A combo kit is always preferable with spray paint because it makes the task easier.
- Cheapest product including all features.
- VOC complaint in 50 states.
- Made for exhaust headers, pipes, grill kitchen, or fire pit.
- Dirt and oil resistant.
- High durable.
- We think the brand should increase the heat capacity from 1500°F to 2000°F
As a verdict, we think the paint performs overall best and at this price, you should definitely go with this. We used the black color but you can use white colors to look even better for headers. There are not many negative reviews about Design Engineering.
PJ1 was originally designed for NASA spacecraft and for now they are used for exhaust systems. The paint can endure the heat for up to 1500°F which is really good for a hi-temp environment. The paint comes in an aerosol can with perfect nozzle selection.
It has a silica-ceramic hybrid that perfectly bonds with surfaces and provides very high durability for an even longer time. The paint has some unique characteristics as it provides chipping and scratching resistance.
Ease of application is very easy as you have a nozzle on the spray for applying the coat. Paint dries very quickly as compared to its competitors. You don’t have too much worry about the curing process because it is very easy as mentioned in the product.
Due to unbelievable rust and corrosion prevention properties and heat resistance we can, this is one of the best paint for the exhaust headers system till now. The protective layer works as an additional armor layer over the paint and it does not require any primer before using.
- One of the best high-temperature header paint on the list.
- Amazing ingredient of silica-ceramic for longer life expansion.
- NASA used which means the brand is trustable.
- No chipping or peeling off paint.
- Quick Dryness.
- Some spray clogging problems in a few cases.
We purchased two bottles at one time for coating from more than two layers. For the past couple of years, we are using and didn’t face any issue to date today. If you are using it for your headers then go for it without much thinking.
Buying Guide on Best Header/Exhaust Manifold Paint
Buyers guide is one of the most important things to consider while shopping for header paint. Because a small ignorance leads to the ruin of the whole exhaust manifold and you end up spending the extra bucks.
As you there are different headers paint roaming around in the market. Although we help you find out the best one by just reading some points given below.
Good paint always offers high temperatures to the headers and it is one of the most important crucial to be considered. Because when the engines are ON it produces lots of heat which damage the exhaust system properly if proper measures are not taken seriously.
All the high brand claims to provide high heat reduction of about 1500°F, but the statement is not 100% true. There are no such paints that can guarantee you to provide maximum heat tolerance. Well, product varies from brand to brand.
So it is always advisable to choose a product at 2000°F so that you won’t face any problems in the future and keep you on the safer side. Below 1200 degrees Fahrenheit paints are made for engine painting not for manifolds.
Well, you don’t have to compromise quality over the price. If the paint costs you a little bit extra with some extra features then go for it. But it’s not always the same because in some cases cheaper performs well.
By the quality means whether the paint has ceramic coating and primer or both. As we know ceramic header paint creates a perfect bond with metal surfaces. On the other hand, a deadly combination of primer and coat suits best for headers but try to look both in one if possible.
Check out the ingredients and features as well before using them. In some cases, some product quality is not suitable for many surfaces.
Cans Vs. Spray
Both are the same whether you purchase can or spray it doesn’t matter at all. One thing effect is the ease of application as both have different aspects.
Cans are very easy to use and only require a paintbrush to apply. Also, the consistency of the paint is very stable in this case and you can coat heavily in one go. Sprays are the most popular as we know and its nozzle offers easy to use without any hassle but it creates a wastage of paint.
We prefer to spray ones because they are quite portable and easy to use.
Peeling & Chipping
Start looking for a product that has chipping and peeling resistance. Because sometimes the paint is made of high-temp but the brand does not disclose this feature.
Peeling starts when the surfaces reach up to a thousand degrees temperature. And here comes the real test because at this point it shows the quality of the paint. If the paint tolerates the chipping and peeling then you can say you have hit the jackpot.
If possible check whether the paint is resistant to scratching, it adds one good quality to the headers. Well, you can skip this feature at all.
How To Paint Headers?
The question pop-ups in every mind are how to paint exhaust headers. Well, painting exhaust headers is not rocket science you can easily paint it without having any professional knowledge. We have covered both two-stroke and four-stroke engines.
- Step1: Unscrew the header from the engine and use sandpaper to rub out the dirt, oil, and old paint.
- Step2: Hang the header in an open area using a strong string.
- Step3: Prime the whole body using a primer. Use a two-coat at least for better results.
- Step4: Wait for about 30 minutes and then apply header paint over it. Apply one coat and wait for 30 minutes and again use the second coat.
- Step5: Cure the paint by putting it in an oven for 15 minutes. Then screw it back and run the engine.
Note: Curing includes three steps, first heating the paint at 724°C, second at 872°C, and third at 898°C. The gaps include 15 minutes of rest at regular intervals.
The basic structure of the header consists of four primary tubes (four strokes engine) attached to the different cylinders using a flat fringe along with a head gasket and at the bottom of the header, there is a collector which passes the exhaust gas.
FAQs related to the Header Paint
The Rust-Oleum has a maximum heat capacity of 2000°F. It is the best high heat paint. Rust-Oleum high-temperature header paint made for the exhaust system.
Yes, primers help in creating bonding with metal surfaces. Using paint on headers while applying primers can increase the durability of headers.
No, wrapping headers can lower the performance scavenging. Instead, you should paint the headers.
Yes, painting manifolds can increase the lifespan of the exhaust system. VHT Flameproof coating is made for exhaust manifold paint.
Final Verdict: Best Header Paint
Headers are the brain of every automotive engine and need to take care of it utmost by using the best header paint in the marketplace. The list given above is the top-rated among them all. If you are a complete beginner then you should try VHT Flameproof coating for high temperatures.
I hope we have given enough rough idea about which is the best exhaust manifold paint and their performance. Just follow the complete guidelines in order to remove flakes off and your good to go.