There are a lot of custom coatings on the market these days. And while powder coating is still prevalent in the performance aftermarket space, Cerakote is starting to pick up steam. Although both coatings are super durable, they come at a cost.
If you take a component to have powder-coated or Cerakote applied, the part will usually need to be sandblasted, cleaned, prepped, and baked, depending on the coating used. The problem with these processes is they are very time-consuming, and as they say, “time is money,” which drives up the cost.
While working in the garage, we were debating an article that would show the process of how to build a low-cost turbo system. This got us thinking if it has to be low cost, does a custom coating make sense? After giving it some thought, we decided that there has to be a cost-effective way to coat exhaust manifolds that will keep them looking good.
Once again, we headed to Google in hopes of finding a product that would meet our needs without the cost associated with other methods. However, we had some other stipulations as well. The coating needs to be easy to apply, in a spray can, while holding up to extreme heat.
Our search led us to KBS Coatings. The company offers several different products. So we reached out to Jon Light, who handles marketing duties for KBS, to see what product we need for our little experiment.
After discussing our needs, Light recommended KBS products, including XTC Primer (aerosol), XTC Coating (aerosol), and 8-ounces of KBS Klean. The total cost for all of these products was $53.85. While the price point was on par, we wanted to find out if the coating process was complicated or not.
“The most critical process in applying KBS coatings is preparing the surface properly. KBS focuses on the KBS system for proper cleaning, preparation, and coating of metal. We are all about proper surface preparation for the best results. A component of the KBS rust prevention system, that is a common thread among all of our kits, is KBS Klean” Light continues. “Regarding the XTC high-temperature primer and paint, KBS recommends using KBS Klean before application. However, if there is significant rust sanding it off is required.”
The Heat Is On
This conversation brought up another question with Light brought up another question. Since we were planning to use these products on a turbo/exhaust manifold, would the primer and coating hold up to the excessive heat? Light said, “XTC Silicone Zinc Primer can withstand in excess of 1200-degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, XTC coating protects metal surfaces operating at 500- to 1,500-degrees Fahrenheit.”
So, we felt comfortable moving forward with this information since the range is definitely in the ballpark for testing purposes.
We ordered four products from KBS for our coating experiment, the XTC Primer (aerosol), XTC Coating (aerosol), 8-ounces of KBS Klean, and KBS Rust blast. The total cost for all four of these products was $62.80. While the price point was on par, next, we needed to find out if the coating process was complicated or not.
We choose to use an old LS truck manifold for this experiment. It’s old, dirty, and rusty, making it the perfect candidate for this process. Knowing that proper prep is crucial for this product to work, we took time and made sure we did everything correctly.
This first step in this four-step process is the KBS Klean. This product needs to be diluted with water before use. So, be sure and read the directions and mix according. We then sprayed the part with the proper mix and rinsed it off with water. We then repeated this process to ensure the manifold was clean before moving to step two.
With our manifold free of grease and grim, we busted out RustBlast. This product is a water-based rust remover and Zinc Phosphate metal etch. RustBlast gently will etch metal and get it ready for the next stage, which is primer.
Unlike the KBS Klean, this product does not need to be diluted. Instead, we sprayed it right out of the bottle in full strength. The instructions state to keep the part wet for 30 minutes to one to two hours, depending on the level of rust. After the recommended time, we washed the piece with water and allowed it to dry completely before moving to the next step.
XTC Silicone Zinc Primer
After completing the first two steps, it’s finally time to coat the manifold with XTC Silicone Zinc primer. Like the other two steps, KBS includes highly detailed instructions for its products. We decided to hang the part in the garage to get total coverage. We applied the first coat and allowed it to dry before adding a second and third. You want to make sure and avoid heavy coats and allow the parts to dry for a minimum of eight hours.
XTC – Xtreme Temperature Coating
It’s finally time for the last step; applying the Xtreme Temperature Coating. We had made sure to follow the directions and take our time until this point. So, we were not interested in messing up on the last step.
With the manifold completely dry and still suspended from the ceiling, we shook up the XTC can in preparation for the final step. As with the primer, KBS suggests using thin coats to avoid runs. The gunmetal XTC coating flows out of the can well, and we dig the metallic color.
After three light coats, we were pleased with the results. And man, what a difference! Our old exhaust manifold looked better than new and is protected up to 1,500-degrees Fahrenheit.
The KBS coating system is not just for exhaust manifolds. Engines, headers, and mufflers are just a few of its recommended applications. Basically, if the project is made of metal and gets hot, it’s a good candidate for the KBS XTC treatment. And once our turbo system is complete, we fully intend on putting this product through the paces.
Please visit the website for more information on this product and others from KBS.