7 Best Header Paint Reviews (A Complete Buying Guide)

Why do you need the best header paint? Can you pick any ordinary paint for the header?

You can’t pick any usual paint for your car engine manifolds or headers. They serve a very important role in a car. If you notice, you will find that they are primary parts that handle exhaust gases that come from a car engine. Therefore, car headers should be protected and kept in good condition.

best header paint

Proper painting of car headers ensures that the car engine will perform well. Painting them prevents discoloration and corrosion, and improves heat tolerance. As a result, your car can perform with maximum efficiency and a longer lifespan.

There are a wide variety of options of header paints that can confirm your car has highly efficient hot surfaces and exhaust systems. Though options are many, all of them are not equally made to perform maximum. This guide comes with the most expected header paints so that you can choose the right one for your projects.

7 Best Header Paint Reviews 2022

Not a big list, this review comes with only 7 best picks of header paints. Let’s read and choose one for your vehicle.

1. Rust-Oleum 248903, Flat Black Automotive High Heat Spray Paint

We picked up this Rust-Oleum 248903, Flat Black Automotive High Heat Spray Paint as our best choice for its unconditional performance and high-end features. With the enamel or oil-based paint type, you can get durability as a guaranteed benefit. Just a fresh coat and the rustic and matte black color will appear as the finishing.

The can in which the paint arrives is safe and does not react chemically. On top of that, the nozzle, tip, and sprayer work finely altogether at any angle without interrupting the flow as the nozzle doesn’t get clogged easily. This amazing spray paint not only provides a gorgeous finishing by covering up the surface but also allows the metal surfaces to resist rust and corrosion to a great extent.

A 12-ounce size bottle easily covers up spaces up to 10 sq ft. With its convenient manufacturing quality, you can get your job done within an hour or less. It only requires 30 minutes at best to dry to touch after being applied. Besides fighting with rust, this amazing spray paint can tackle harsh weather including heavy rainfall or UV rays, or stormy winds without being damaged or patchy.


  • Comes with optimum size to cover maximum space of both interior and exterior.
  • Formulated to resist rust and corrosion and other harsh weathers.
  • Perfect for protecting metal surfaces by giving them a black matte finish look.


  • The color might get faded if not applied it following the instructions properly.

2. POR-15 High Temperature Paint | Weather & Moisture Resistant

This oil-based POR-15 High Temperature Paint is our next best paint for headers and exhaust manifold for its tremendous performance in exterior weather. If you live in a country where the scorching heat of the sun and heavy rainfall are common things, then use this weather, salt, and moisture resistant paint for a go-to experience. This paint can tackle weather worth 1200 degree F.

This paint provides some classic colors and the glossy finish makes your pavement look gorgeous. Besides providing amazing finishing, this paint also prevents chipping, patching, cracking, or peeling. A can carries 8 fluid ounces at once and this amount is enough to cover a good amount of spaces. This paint is one of the professionals’ favorites for its tough and heavy-duty formula.

Two coatings of this reliable paint on the surface of your car or pavements, and are ready to serve you for several years without being patchy or broken down. However, this paint takes almost a day or two to dry fully. Another benefit you can get is this paint not only comes in a can but also comes in a liquid or aerosol spray.


  • Formulated to do heavy-duty features including enduring immense heat.
  • Offers a tough corrosion prevention finish against all kinds of weather.
  • Provides glossy finish and ensures an even texture all over the surface.


  • The surfaces need to be free of grease, wax, loose rust, and dust before applying the paint.

3. Design Engineering 010303 High-Temperature Silicone Coating Spray

Design Engineering 010303 spray not only comes with a convenient applying method but also offers heavy-duty formula. With the coating of this paint, you can create a solid base for other coatings as well. As this paint can withstand heat, it easily tackles up to 1500 degree F without breaking down its strength.

This paint is popular for its immense healing power by penetrating deep into a damaged surface. Besides, it heals pipes, engine blocks, or exhaust headers enduring heat, hot oil spills, and road grime with just three coatings according to DEI. Also, for long-lasting protection, there is no better option than this silicone coating spray.

This paint with its intense capability requires very little while applying it to a surface. Just spray places where needed and see the magic yourself. Also, this coating spray is best to use as a substitute for Titanium exhaust wrap. You’ll get the maximum privilege including a prolonged lifespan using this HT Silicone Coating Spray.


  • Provides perfect base of silicone to endure heat up to 1500 degree F.
  • Penetrates deeply to the surface in order to rescue it from damage and chipping.
  • Expert in extending life-span of DEI exhaust wraps.


  • Minimum three coatings are needed for better performance which is costly.

4. Rust-Oleum 249340 Automotive High Heat Primer Spray Paint

Rust-Oleum always provides the best kind of high heat spray paints and this oil-based Rust-Oleum 249340 automotive primer spray paint is no exception. Besides priming metal surfaces like mufflers and automotive engines, it also paints the surface like real paints. As it is oil-based spray paint, it offers a long-term service without shrinking or cracking down.

Metals are prone to get attacked by rust and this spray is formulated carefully to prevent rust from bare surfaces of metals. However, besides tackling rust, this spray paint can tolerate extraordinary heat up to 2000 degrees F. With its easy conducting system, the applying method is also convenient both for the professional and noob DIYers. You can easily cover 12 sq ft space with the 12 ounces of amount.

The paint provides density in adhesion as well. As a result, a topcoat over this paint offers an extra smooth texture and strengthens its whole feature. Many professionals suggest a topcoat to apply over it for an effective result with a flat finish. To use the aerosol spray paint, press the tip steadily covering the whole space, and half of your job is done.


  • Not only fights with rust but also tolerate hellish hotness to protect the surface.
  • Offers easy conduct of the spray can without creating any hassle.
  • Provides extra period of lasting for being an oil-based paint.


  • Requires several coatings to get the utmost result and takes time to cure.


To withstand extremely high temperatures, VHT FLAMEPROOF Coating has owned our trust to a great extent. One important fact about this coating is it can renew the life of a surface that has to expose to the sun most of the time. On top of that, it extends the sustainability of the surface.

This coating can stand temperature 1300 degrees to 2000 degrees F. With this endurance power, you can apply this FLAMEPROOF Coating to your vehicle and its boiling parts.

Cover the interior or exterior hot places like piston domes, headers, or exhaust systems with this coating and get non-flammable protection. As this coating comes with heavy-duty formula, only adults are required to use this.

This coating comes in an aerosol spray can for the convenience of its usage. You can easily cover the narrowest parts of the engine of your car by holding it at an angle. However, a single coating is not enough if you really want a significant result. To get a legit effect, more than three coatings are needed. But another fact is it takes a hell of a time to dry fully.


  • Provides enough amounts to cover maximum space.
  • Convenient feature and top-notch formula to provide the best service.
  • Being non-flammable it heightens the supremacy of the coating.


  • Not so compatible as a coating for headers of your vehicle.

6. Rust-Oleum 7778502 Heat Protective Enamel

If you are a fan of oil or enamel-based paint, then Rust-Oleum 7778502 is your go-to paint. Till now, we have talked about paints that are suitable mostly for surfaces like bare metals. But this paint can be used on wood as well, apart from metals. This paint is perfect for painting exterior and interior materials.

To give a new look to your BBQ grills or wooden stoves, use this friendly paint and observe its capability. Surfaces that are exposed to heat up to 1000 degrees F can be protected by this paint from warping or breaking down. For its oil-based texture, the surface regains its fitness and further extends its life force to a certain extent by resisting rust to worsen the surface anymore.

Also, the color retention that the paint provides is worth mentioning. It offers a premium and seamless texture with a satin finish. On top of that, the paint dries super fast, unlike other oil-based paints. Give the coating 30 minutes and you can touch it. More curing time offers extreme adhesion. However, an hour of heat cure is required for its better adhesion.


  • A perfect oil-based paint for both wooden and metal materials.
  • Exterior and interior surfaces are safe from chipping, cracking, or rust by this paint.
  • It comes with a spray can version as well for easy conduction.


  • It emits smoke and bad odors while heat curing the coating.

7. Thermo-Tec 12001 Black High Heat Coating

In our collection, Thermo-Tec 12001 high heat coating has also made its place because of its capability to protect the wrap and metal surfaces. For vehicles, this paint offers particular benefits. It prevents abrasions and hot liquid spills.

As the coating contains binders and resins, these ingredients increase and enhance the duty of the paint. Besides toughening the surface, it expands the lifespan of wraps. It also fights corrosion, rust, chipping, and frictions between the narrow parts of an engine.

This paint can stand up to 2000 degree F heat without complaining. Besides, it provides non-porous and even texture by covering pores. Thus it blocks every way of moisture to penetrate the surface and damage it. Also, the satin finish provides a translucent look which many professionals prefer mostly.


  • Extremely useful to abolish porous surfaces and makes it non-porous.
  • Comes with a spray can and saves the wraps.
  • Can tolerate high temperature and by toughening the surface.


  • The nozzle of the spray can sometimes gets clogged easily.

How to Choose the Best Paint for Headers – Buyer’s Guide

If you are thinking of adding a header paint to your cart, wait, don’t just select any paint for your car, there are some things you need to make sure of before picking a header paint. Here are the things you need to look for in the paint for headers:

Heat Resistance: The first thing you need to check before choosing header paint is how it deals with heat. It is because as you already know, a car engine emits heat, and by heat, I mean a lot of heat which can be a couple of hundred degrees Fahrenheit and sometimes even more.

That’s why if you want to buy a paint that will last long, you need to make sure that the paint can withstand extreme temperatures otherwise there will be no difference between header paint and regular paint. But how to find suitable paint for the header?

Generally, you will find some paint brands offering a range of heat resistance up to 1200° to 1500° Fahrenheit. This is quite fine for regular car engines. However, if the paint offers less temperature resistance than this range, you can face some problems if your engine temperature rises quite badly, like a thousand degrees.

The fun thing is that you may find some paint brands offering temperature resistance up to 2000° degrees Fahrenheit, which may turn out to be true but you can’t say it for sure because engine temperatures don’t reach that level in general.

So, you can stick to the 1200° to 1500° Fahrenheit range, which will be enough for your car engine.

Safety: No matter which paints you are using or where you are using them, the safety of using the product should be your first concern. Many paints contain VOCs and some other harmful materials that can cause eye or nose irritation or other short and long-term health problems.

It might be a little difficult to find a paint that is free from all hazardous elements but you can definitely look for a paint that will contain a minimal amount of those harmful materials. You may check the label of the product to get some ideas about the materials that are used in that paint.

Weather Resistance: No one would like a paint that works fine in summer but turns into a completely useless thing in winter! As you need to drive your car all year round, you need to choose a header paint that keeps its performance the same in all seasons.

Plus you can also check to see if the paint offers resistance against rust, salt, and humidity. This will give you advantages if you drive in the coastal areas.

Chip Resistance: What’s more depressing than buying a paint that makes a car header look like an ugly-looking chipped surface in a short time? That’s why to avoid this situation, you need to make sure the paint will stay on the header for a long time without chipping or flaking.

Application: You can look for a paint that offers easy application. This will make your work fast and comfortable. You may look for both spray paints and regular bucket paints. Spray can or bottle will surely give you some significant advantages over regular bucket paints.

However, if you like to go the old-fashioned way, you can always give it a try with paintbrushes and see how things work. One more thing, look for a paint that offers easy clean-ups as well.

You may not find all the things in a single paint can. But choose a paint that fulfills most of these conditions.

Why Should You Use Header Paint?

There are many reasons to use header paints. This will not only give the header a nice look but give various advantages. So, let’s take a look at some of the advantages:

Hiding Imperfections:

Header paints are great for hiding imperfections, especially when the header is made of a metal that catches rust easily. Rust can be a serious problem in the header. But if you manage to take good care of your header, you may avoid this problem. And here header paint comes in handy.

If you paint your car header with good quality paint it will prevent moisture from getting in contact with the metal and ultimately save your header from catching rust. Another good thing about header paint is that it will easily hide metal discolorations and imperfections like small dents and scuff marks on the surface.

Improving Heat Tolerance:

Engine cylinders go through the extreme heat of the exhaust gas so they may eventually start malfunctioning. Here, ceramic can come in handy because it is capable of withstanding extreme temperatures. So, if you apply a ceramic coating it can help improve the heat tolerance of your engine cylinder.

Stainless steel vs. ceramic headers: which is better?

To be honest with you I will say that this totally depends on your preference. But let’s see a brief comparison between the pros and cons of both materials.

Stainless Steel:


  • It doesn’t corrode.
  • More durable and resistant to corrosion than an only externally ceramic-coated mild steel.


  • Discolors if the header temperature is high.
  • The engine doesn’t cool easily.



  • It doesn’t corrode.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Helps to cool down everything faster.
  • Maintains beautiful look for a long time.


  • Comparatively less durable when a mild steel header is only externally coated with ceramic.

Both stainless steel and ceramic work fine for a header. But now you have some clear points to make a decision on which one to prioritize over the other.

Is ceramic coating on headers worth it?

Why not! The ceramic coating on headers offers a lot of benefits. It looks good and maintains its fresh look for a long time. It helps to keep things cool under the hood, doesn’t affect power, and makes the painted surface easy to clean. So, I guess these will be enough to make someone decide whether ceramic coating on headers is worth it or not!

How much does it cost to have headers coated?

If we are talking about ceramic coating, the prices can vary from place to place. And it may depend on some other factors as well like if you are doing it yourself or getting it done by a professional, etc.

However, to give you a rough idea I would say that a 4 cyl Short Tubular Header will cost about $125 to $140. And if we go all the way up to V8 Long Tube Headers, it will cost you about $275 to $325 per pair. And the rest should be in between this range.

How to cure header paint?

Header paint curing time and process may vary from brand to brand and you will find clear instructions on the back of the paint can. However, let’s take a look at a general rule for curing header paint. Firstly, header paint curing is a slow process and can be done on the vehicle or off the vehicle.

Paint Curing On the Vehicle:

First, make sure the paint is completely dry. Next, start the engine and let it run idle for approximately 10 minutes. Then let it cool down for 20 minutes and run idle again for 20 minutes and let it cool down again for 20 minutes. Finally, run the engine for 30 minutes in normal engine operating conditions.

Paint Curing Off the Vehicle:

Here, make sure the paint is completely dry. Now, heat it for 30 minutes at 250° Fahrenheit and then let it cool down for at least half an hour then heat it again for 30 minutes at 400° Fahrenheit. Again let it cool down for 30 minutes and finally heat it again for 30 minutes at 650° Fahrenheit.

This is the rough procedure for curing header paint. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when curing the paint.

How long do painted headers last?

This will depend on various things like the quality of the paint, paint application, maintenance, weather conditions, etc. However, you may expect to see the paint looking fine on the header for about 3 years or more. But this is not fixed, you may get even longer-lasting results or the paint may turn into an ugly thing in a short time.

Do the header paints have UV protection?

This will depend on the brand you are choosing. You can check the back of the paint can to find out if the product offers UV protection or not. If you don’t find anything, you can ask the salesperson or visit the website of the paint brand to get some accurate information.

Will a header paint works on all surfaces including exhaust systems?

Yes, it will work. However, you need to apply the paint on metal surfaces as it is designed for metal surfaces. Applying on surfaces other than metal may not bring satisfactory results.

Final Thoughts

We have tried to give you a clear idea about the best header paints and other relevant things. Now, you can make your decision easily.

Our recommendation is Rust-Oleum 248903 but don’t think that other options are not good enough. All have quality features and you will enjoy several advantages by picking any of them.