Ceramic Vs. Stainless Steel Headers (Pros And Cons, Benefits, & More!)

Ceramic Vs. Stainless Steel Headers

Affiliate Disclosure: When you buy a product via our links, we sometimes earn a referral fee. Learn more

Material science is constantly changing, but it never seems quick enough to cope with the pressure of speed fanatics worldwide.

View Price Comparison

Stainless steel is the most popular material used in racing headers. Mild steel is the most affordable and widely accessible alternative.

Many people have hurried to get precoated headers or have their current headers coated because the ceramic coating is relatively recent to the aftermarket sector.

However, the procedure is not inexpensive, and some have said that it is not worthwhile, but that relies on your priorities.

The way you look after a header directly impacts its durability and attractiveness. The factory’s pretreatment procedure limits the coating’s strength.

They are, however, cleaned regularly and wiped down with a cloth soaked in a WD40 solution. This, however, will speed the bronzing process.

Your best choice could be to acquire a stainless set and have them thoroughly coated at your local Ceramic Coating Business.

Why coat headers

When it comes to four-stroke engines, the material and design of the header are crucial. There is considerable debate over the ideal techniques and materials, but there are two things that everyone agrees on.

One, headers that improve the flow of wasted exhaust gases tend to increase the power produced. Two, insulated headers boost exhaust velocity and reduce cylinder scavenging, resulting in increased energy.

Also Check: Aluminized Steel Vs Stainless Steel Exhaust

The most common problem in this industry is that people neglect to maintain the headers precisely like the rest of the automobile.

You will most likely have a limited life span if this is not done. Apply a coat of polish once a month or every other month and call it a day. For years to come, they’ll appear fresh new.

Benefits of using ceramic

Ceramic-coated mild steel is supposed to function better than stainless steel because it has superior insulating characteristics.

Ceramic-coated headers are usually more costly; however, this isn’t necessarily the case dependent on the design complexity. Mild steel with a ceramic coating has a longer lifespan.

The decision is based on the best value for your particular application.

Before ceramic-coated headers can tolerate tremendous heat, they must go through numerous heat cycles and an hour of running at idle or driving regularly.

Bonehead Performance suggests breaking in new engines using uncoated cast iron muffler manifolds or vintage uncoated headers to minimize coating damage.

Benefits of using stainless steel

Stainless steel has a minor advantage over mild steel in heat retention, and most people agree that it looks nicer.

The material is more costly and challenging to deal with, increasing the production process cost.

The most significant disadvantage is the inability to tolerate heat cycles. High temperatures are more likely to cause it to fail than mild steel.

Stainless Steel Headers

Simply said, quality, performance, and lifespan are all advantages of a stainless steel exhaust.

Stainless steel exhaust elements are preferable to mild steel exhaust components because they do not rust or corrode when damaged or scarred.

Temperature variation with coating the header

Coatings can lower surface temperatures by up to 400°, but it all relies on your setup since everything matters when dealing with exhaust gas temperatures.

On average, we notice a drop of 300° to 350°, albeit this varies according to the season. But it’s not always about lowering the temperature!

Everything we do is completely coated on the inside and out, which almost eliminates turbulence in the exhaust stream while also allowing for thermal retention.

Even dissipation of heat, allowing your exhaust to travel out much faster for your engine to work less and create more power.

Efficiency difference in Ceramic vs. stainless steel headers

The magazine discovered that the ceramic coating made practically no difference in power output on that engine in the same PHR header test, but that was only on that engine.

Ceramic, in any event, will never be a detriment to power. Stainless steel headers outlast mild-steel headers with simply an exterior ceramic coating in terms of reliability and corrosion resistance.

Both inside and out, ceramic-coated headers should last indefinitely, or at least as long as stainless steel. Inside and out, ceramic-coated headers can endure eternally, or at least as long as stainless steel.

The selection is based on your personal preferences and your financial situation. Consult a mechanic at your local garage to determine which improvement is best for you.

The structural difference in Ceramic vs. stainless steel headers

The traditional method of making headers was to utilize mild steel and potentially treat them with chrome for aesthetically and corrosion resistance.

Chrome, on either hand, tends to flake away when the surface metal compresses and expands, mainly when applied inexpensively.

Steel headers prevent this problem by being manufactured of a non-corroding material in the first place. For a set of headers, a typical coating job would cost around $200 and $300.

Ceramic header

After all, the investment is worth it. You’ll witness improved performance, less costly damage, and a long-lasting appearance.

Ceramic coatings take things even farther. These coatings, made up of aluminum powder and ceramic particles, are applied to the header as a powder. Consequently, a stiff, impenetrable barrier that won’t rust is created.

Appearance difference in Ceramic vs. stainless steel headers

You would never have to worry regarding corrosion with stainless and ceramic items since they do not rust.

On the other hand, stainless steel discolours when wet, but ceramic does not. Ceramic headers will retain their fresh, chrome-like appearance over several years, and their smoothness makes them simple to clean.

Carrying the heat deeper down the pipe boosts gas flow and improves scavenging, resulting in more power but lower under-hood temperatures.

Stainless-steel headers can be quite brilliant when they’re new, but they fade to a dusky gold color that fades to cobalt blue in the hottest areas.

On the other hand, some folks enjoy the racy appearance and polish the header even after it has been run to bring out the color and shine.

Pros and cons of Ceramic and stainless steel headers:

  • Coated headers cannot be welded without first removing all of the coatings in the affected region. Stainless headers can be welded if the filler rod is the same alloy as the source metal, and the metal is also before and after the heated. 
  • Welding stainless steel is a difficult task, and only a few men are capable of completing a repair that will hold up and be backed up by their work.
  • Due to the intense heat, stainless pipes will turn blue; some people dislike the hue of these pipes.
  • Rust will appear whenever the coating is scraped, including the inside of the pipe. Choose the coated header for a daily driver and be wary of nicks and scratches.
  • Coated headers will be less expensive to manufacture than stainless steel headers.
  • Because the coater does not spray its coating into the weld sites and obtain coverage, the headers usually start rusting after three years of usage at the point in which the primaries have initially been welded to the flange and the collector.
  • The ceramic covering also helps to keep the gases hot and get them out faster. With long tube headers, you’ll notice a significant difference.

Which material to choose

Pre-coated ceramic headers are usually twice as expensive as their uncoated equivalents; this isn’t always the case.

Stainless headers are far more costly than mild-steel headers, narrowing the price gap with ceramic-coated mild-steel headers.

Those that choose to have their headers coated at a local shop narrow the difference even more. Depending on where you can go and what they charge, this can minimize coating costs by a quarter to a third.

If you purchase the powder and make it yourself, the cost is considerably lower. As a result, a nice set of stainless headers might cost the same as or more than a set of mild-steel ceramic-coated headers made at home or locally.

auto header

You’ll never have to worry about rust since stainless steel and ceramic materials don’t corrode.

However, as the header becomes heated, stainless steel discolors, but ceramic does not. Ceramic headers have a smooth surface that makes them easy to clean and preserve their out-of-the-box, chrome-like look for many years.

When polished, stainless-steel headers can be pretty brilliant, but they discolor to a tawny yellow hue, which fades to cobalt blue near the hottest parts.


Due to the sprayed-on application procedure, ceramic coatings are generally used as a heat barrier with little corrosion resistance.

Even in the best-case scenario, mild steel headers do not protect the inside of the tubes and the area between the tubes at the collector.

In dry climatic regions, ceramic-coated headers can survive for years, while in states with severe weather, they can be scrapped in only a few years.

In usage, stainless steel headers will transition from pale gold to dark brown, but if manufactured of high-quality materials, they will likely survive longer than you own your automobile.

Leave a Comment