Best Header Paint Reviews | Top 10 Picks

Got a classic car that you used to drive around and enjoy yourself? But you don't do that anymore. Well, the thing has become rather old, and the header's so rusty, it puts you to shame! You know what; we've got a solution for you.

All you need to do is to coat your old friend with the best header paint, and it'll regain much of its vigor. The same goes for the new car. Paint its header, exhaust manifold, etc., with a heat-resistant coating, and it'll stay in great shape instead of turning into a busted heap of junk.

To save you the trouble of looking for the needle in a haystack, our experts have gone through the available paints in the market and shortlisted ten of them. Below is the list and more. So let's get started, shall we?

Do You Want To Easily Choose A Product? Just Follow This Table


Product Name

Editor's Rating


Rust-Oleum Flat Black Heat Spray

Rust-Oleum Flat Black Heat Spray

5 out of 5

Dupli-Color Ceramic Semi-Gloss Black Engine Paint

Dupli-Color Ceramic Semi-Gloss Black Engine Paint

5 out of 5

Rust-Oleum High Heat Ultra Enamel Black Spray

Rust-Oleum High Heat Ultra Enamel Black Spray

out of 5

Krylon High Heat Satin, Black

Krylon High Heat Satin, Black

5 out of 5

Rust-Oleum Automotive High Heat Spray Paint

Rust-Oleum Automotive High Heat Spray Paint

4.5 out of 5

Benefits of Using Header Paint

If you're wondering: why do I need spray paint, to begin with? The answer is manifold. From looks efficiency to service life, high-quality paint brings a whole range of benefits to the table.

Increased Performance and Lifespan

This is a very crucial practical benefit of the coating. The unwanted dissipation of heat hinders a vehicle's performance from the engine. Its internal flow of heat towards different parts causes the system to malfunction.

The performance and damage issues can easily be checked if the engine header is properly covered by high heat paint. Not only do you get a faster car with greater efficiency, but it also serves you longer and costs less.

Enhances Lifespan

Thanks to the heat protectant features, it increases the lifespan of your vehicle's parts. Hence, you don't have to worry about continuous maintenance, which is a blessing.

Corrosion Prevention

Engines generate extremely high heat. Header metal, if exposed to superheated air, can get oxidized, corrode and rust away. The high-temperature coating shields the metal from direct contact with the heated corrosive gasses.

Aesthetic Appeal

This is the most eye-catching aspect of the paint — the sleek and stylish adornments beautify the headers. On the other hand, an unpainted header goes through discoloration at a very fast pace.

Our Top 10 Best Header Paint Reviews in 2023

We've gone through the coatings for headers available in the market, and these ten came on top. Some of the criteria we used to select these are mentioned after the list.

1.Rust-Oleum 248903 Flat Black High Heat Spray

Rust-Oleum 248903 Flat Black High Heat Spray

As the name suggests, Rust-Oleum is a company specialized in producing oil-based coatings to prevent rust formation on metal surfaces. They started off using whale oil for rust protective paints back in the early twenties! Through the years, they've made innovative improvements to their coatings.

The worst adversary of internal parts of your vehicle is overheating. This high temp coating is specifically designed to overcome just that! It forms a protective coating that can withstand temperatures up to 2000°F. Most common vehicles need 1500°F thermal protection, which is highly efficient.

This coating locks onto the metal surfaces and prevents the corrosive chemicals from coming into contact with the metal. The rust-formation formula is completely checked by this paint. On top of that, the coating makes the metal immune to a hot gas, oil, etc.

It's any-angle-spray technology allows you to jet the spray paint at all desired angles. You can even shoot the paint while keeping the can upside down. This allows the paint to reach any header or exhaust system point easily. You can spray the paint without even dismounting the parts from your vehicle.

Each can carries 12.0-ounce high heat paint, capable of covering 10 sq ft with sleek-looking Flat Black coating. The drying process takes only 30 minutes. Few will disagree if you call this the best high temp spray paint.

Highlighted Features

  • The enamel makes the coating extremely oil resistant
  • Dries quickly, within half an hour
  • Extremely heat resistant can resist temperatures up to 2000°F (1093°C)
  • Impenetrable coating prevents rust formation by sealing off the surface
  • All-angle sprayable reaches all corners

2. Dupli-Color Ceramic Semi-Gloss Black Engine Paint

Dupli-Color Ceramic Semi-Gloss Black Engine Paint

A relentless drive through innovation and adaptation for more than half a century has made Dupli-Color a trusted name among the car owners of North America. They've come up with some of the most widely accepted automobile coatings available in the market.

The most outstanding quality of this spray paint is its optimized temperature resistance. You see, just resisting the high flow of heat is not enough at all.

Completely stopping the heat flow or reducing it to a great extent by highly heat resistant coating can actually harm the engine parts. Rather you need coatings capable of smooth dissipation of heat.

This high temp coatingis designed to do just that. Due to the high emissivity, the coating it forms dissipates heat smoothly and effectively. Thus the damage due to overheating is completely checked for years to come.

Its EZ Touch Conical Nozzle allows fatigue-free, accurate, and easy application. You can easily apply this header spray paint to all the corners of your automobile engine. It completely seals the engine parts and prevents automotive fluids from damaging the engine.

Available in 25 different colors, this ceramic paint is suitable for premium finishings. Its innovative formula ensures that the coating won't crack, peel or deform any other way. The exhaust paint dries within only half an hour.

Highlighted Features

  • The oil-proof coating stops harmful fluids from damaging the engine
  • High emissivity ensures smooth heat transfer and prevents overheating
  • EZ Touch Nozzle allows for fatigue-free and accurate application
  • Dries up within 30 minutes
  • Twenty-five different colors and capable of a premium matte finish

3. Rust-Oleum High Heat Ultra Enamel Black Spray

Rust-Oleum High Heat Ultra Enamel Black Spray

In 2021 Rust-Oleum just crossed the 100th anniversary of its foundation. A hundred years of triumphant march speaks volumes for its products' high quality and consistency. The paints they produce are some of the best in the market.

The oil-based Rust-Oleum formula turns the exhaust paint into an impassable barrier for rusts. Once the metal surface is properly coated with this spray paint, no water particles can get to it, and the remaining rust clusters get isolated and can't enlarge any further.

The engine header and the adjacent parts require a high degree of protection against thermal damage. This high-temperature coating can withstand temperatures up to 1200°F (648°C), which is more than enough for most automobile engines.

On top of that, the enamel coating formed by this paint can withstand repeated heating without any thermal fatigue.

In the field of aesthetics, this spray paint gets very high scores. An excellent look is ensured by its semi-glossy finish. The high heat paintcan sustain its deep color and excellent gloss even after frequent heating.

Besides engine parts, this paint is perfect for wood stoves, fireplace screens, radiators, etc. One thing, though, the paint is highly flammable, so don't expose it to fire. Each spray can come with 12-ounce paint and will be enough for any refurbishing job you'll come across.

Highlighted Features

  • Isolates rust particles and thus stops rust formation
  • Completely covers metal surfaces and prevents corrosive chemicals from reaching them
  • High thermal protection (up to 1200°F) protects against heat damage
  • It can cover 8 sq ft and dries within 30 minutes
  • Sustains the semi-gloss finish through repeated heating

4. Krylon High Heat Satin, Black

Krylon High Heat Satin

Now it’s time to talk about Krylon High Heat Paint. Krylon has introduced a whole range of aesthetically appealing and effective coatings. This particular coating for headers didn't stray from Krylon's tradition of innovative and user-friendly products.

Each aerosol can is packed with a 12.0-ounce shot of premium quality Stain Black paint. Suitable for applying on any metal surface, this high heat paint quart dries within only 15 minutes.

The drying process works like a charm; the paint doesn't even run or drip. Each can is able to cover up to 25 sq ft of real estate, enough for any job you may come across.

This high temp coating is specially designed to function in highly corrosive environments. Corrosive automobile oils, hot fumes, moisture, anything that may cause the engine or adjacent parts to rust and corrode away, this spray paint can work as a protective shield against them.

Its chemical matrix includes ethylbenzene, xylene, toluene, etc. This combination of heat resistive chemicals enables the paint to withstand up to 600°F continuous temperature and 1200°F intermittent temperature. So the roaring engine under your ride's hood is going to stay as healthy as a bull!

The adjustable nozzle makes the spraying process a true pleasure. It's suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. That means you get to use this paint to crown your sleek hot rod as well as the ordinary cars.

Highlighted Features

  • Can resist thermal damage at up to 600°F constant and 1200°F intermittent temperature
  • Adjustable EZ Touch nozzle prevents hand fatigue
  • Its innovative formula allows a high degree of corrosion resistance
  • Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use
  • Dries within only 15 minutes!

5. Rust-Oleum Automotive High Heat Spray Paint

Rust-Oleum Automotive High Heat Spray Paint

When it comes to high temp coatings, few brands can contend with the supremacy of Rust-Oleum. In our list of top ten paints, they've scored three.

This oil-based paint is no different from its other brothers and cousins from the Rust-Oleum family in terms of their uncanny ability to keep metal surfaces from rusting away in extremely corrosive environments.

Engine oil, hot gasses, moisture, dust, or any other corrosive agents won't be able to harm the metal if it's coated with this spray paint.

It can protect the engine and its adjacent components exposed to extreme heat. The high temp coating for headers can withstand temperatures up to 2000°F (1093°C). You can cover up to 12 sq ft with it, and the drying process will take only 30 minutes.

Automobile engines, engine headers, head pipes, mufflers, or exhaust systems — this high temp paintis perfectly suitable for all of them. The coating will keep them rust-free for years to come.

The paint comes packed in an aerosol can crowned with a spraying nozzle. Its sprayability makes it suitable for heavy-duty and complex jobs. You can use this any-angle spray paint for a long time and won't get any hand fatigue.

Highlighted Features

  • Any-angle nozzle makes its application easy and accurate
  • Its oil-based formula stops rust formation and spreading
  • Can resist thermal damage till 2000°F (1093°C)
  • The drying process takes 30 minutes
  • High corrosion resistance, suitable for engine headers, mufflers, exhaust pipes, etc.

6. VHT Anodized Blue Color Coat

VHT Anodized Blue Color Coat

VHT is a brand that boasts of its high-quality specialty automobile paints that can withstand extreme tortures and keep the engine parts safe. The very name VTH stands for, Very High Temperature!

This anodized blue spray paint is specialized for giving a sparklingly spectacular metallic finish. Spray it onto a correctly prepared chrome surface, and you'll get a dazzling metallic finishing. You can expect the same result from a faux chrome-like surface as well.

Apply this high heat coating on your hot rod, and you'll make all the heads turn as you cruise along the road. You can also apply this paint to non-metallic surfaces. The trick is to prime the surface with the VHT anodized base coat and then apply this paint, and it'll grove the same translucent glow!

The high temp paint is perfectly capable of protecting the different automobile parts from overheating. It can prevent thermal damage at intermittent temperatures up to 550°F (228°C). And the exhaust paint still retains its aesthetic appeal.

Because of its sprayability, the paint for headers is extremely easy to use even without dismounting the parts. Each can carries 11 ounces of paint, and once applied, the coating gets touch-dried in 30 minutes. You can expect complete curing to happen overnight.

Highlighted Features

  • The anodized paint gives a spectacular finish on metallic surfaces
  • Applying VHT anodized base coat same effect can be found on non-metals too
  • Protects engine parts at temperatures as high as 550°F (228°C)
  • It's sprayable, accurate, and won't cause hand fatigue
  • Dries within 30 minutes – cures completely overnight

7. Stove Bright High-Temperature Flat Black Paint

Stove Bright High-Temperature Flat Black Paint

Our seventh pick is from Forrest Paint. With nearly a century of experience, they've produced some of the most environment-friendly and affordable coating paints in the market. This high-temperature flat black is a glowing example of these.

Its high-temperature coatingis suitable for use in cases where high thermal protection is required. By a perfect combination of heat dissipation and reflection, this spray paint can ensure complete protection from temperature damages.

Thus it's perfectly suitable for automobile engines, heaters, radiators, exhaust manifolds, etc.
Withstanding temperatures up to 1200°F, that is, 650°C, this paint can ensure your car's smooth, trouble-free operation. It also elongates the service life of the engine and adjacent parts. Thus it's doubly pocket-friendly.

Because of its embedded silicone protectant, this exhaust header paint can resist the corrosive actions of most chemicals. It completely stops the rust formation and spreading of already formed rust clusters.

Its aerosol can is crowned with a nozzle that allows easy and fatigue-free application. It isn't designed for long exposures to the sun. But you can overcome this issue by using Stove Bright primer before applying the paint. Each 12 oz. can cover up to 15 sq. ft. enough for a heavy-duty refurbishing job.

Highlighted Features

  • The silicon components make it extremely resistant to corrosion
  • Due to high heat dissipation and reflection quality, it's effective against heat damage
  • Withstanding temperatures up to 1200°F, suitable for engines, heaters, radiators, etc
  • Nozzle allows the jet to reach everywhere with ease
  • 12-ounce paint can cover an area of 15 sq ft

8. VHT Flameproof Black

VHT Flameproof Black

In terms of popularity, this paint is no exception from its other brothers and cousins from the VHT family. One of the leading brands of the automotive coating industry, VHT has a dedicated client base, which speaks volumes for the quality of its products.

The hallmark of this particular coating is its operational temperature. Coatings formed by the paint can shield the substrate underneath at a constant temperature of 1300°F, that is 704°C.

This means the header coating can protect the coated engine parts from thermal damage despite extensive and continuous exposure to high temperatures.

As for intermittent temperatures, the coated surfaces will be safe at as high as 2000°F. Because of its high thermal protection, the paint has seen a wide range of applications in the automobile industry.

Headers, head interior, piston domes, exhaust systems, you name it. It's even used in jet engines and space re-entry vehicles!

This silicone paint doesn't just protect the metal from thermal and frictional damages; its ceramic finish makes it magnetically appealing. Apply this coating with a matte finish to your car, and you'll be satisfied by the impression it makes on your friends.

Besides making the metal immune to heat damage, its high-quality binders and resins reinforce the surface, smoothens it, and reduces friction. All these allow it to last through a very long service life. These features make it an exceptionally suitable candidate for the best paint for headers.

Highlighted Features

  • 1300°F constant thermal protection, suitable for extensive use through long hours
  • Binders and resin reinforcement reduce friction and increase service life
  • Applicable on headers, engine interiors, piston-domes, exhaust systems, etc
  • Matte ceramic finish gives a magnetic aesthetic appeal
  • Despite its premium features, it's extremely pocket-friendly

9. Forrest Paint 1990 Satin Black

Forrest Paint 1990 Satin Black

Forrest Paint is based in Eugene, Oregon. Starting from 1973, this family-owned company has become a picturesque example of the American Dream. They produce top-notch, user-friendly paints in a sustainable, eco-friendly process. The Stove Bright 1990 is no exception to that.

Each can contains a 12-ounce shot of high-temperature paint, enough colorant to provide a protective coating to your engine header and its surrounds. The average coverage of a can is approximately 12 feet.

It's equipped with a nozzle to spray the paint easily onto the substrate. This feature crosses out the possibility of hand fatigue and lets you focus on artistic perfection. Talking of aesthetics, the coating comes with a host of shades. So you can choose according to your taste.

The paint has a highly heat-resistant formula, resilient enough to function in direct contact with fire. Forrest Paint accomplished this feat by combining silicone polymer resin and highly temperature-resistant pigments. The coating can sustain its functionalities at operational temperatures as high as 1200°F (650°C).

Specifically designed to be painted on ferrous substrates exposed to extreme heat, this coating is also suitable for other metals, pellets, and even wood. The silicone polymer provides a very high degree of corrosion protection. So you'll face no rust or mar for many years to come.

Highlighted Features

  • Silicone polymer allows for operational temperatures up to 1200°F
  • Highly temperature resistant, suitable for radiators, headers, engine manifolds, etc
  • Available in a wide variety of colors
  • Withstanding different corrosive factors prevents rust, mar, etc
  • The spraying nozzle reduces work fatigue and makes it very easy to use

10. Eastwood Silver Aerosol Coating

Eastwood Silver Aerosol Coating

With the motto: "Do it Yourself" and "Do the Jobs Right'', the Eastwood Company is an American brand that caters to the needs of car owners and automobile DIY enthusiasts. The paints they bring to bear a clear impression of their slogan of perfection.

The most outstanding quality is the vigorous bonding it performs with different metal surfaces. Once the surface of the header or the exhaust system is properly prepared, the ceramic header paint forms an extremely durable coating onto the substrate.

It's compatible with both cast iron and aluminum. Thus you get to coat different parts of your ride with it.

Besides withstanding abrasion, these bonds are also extremely heat and moisture-resistant. Put your beast through serious running for long hours; this coating will hold.

Its high refractive properties protect the metal underneath up to 1400°F (760°C). This allows you to apply this coating to the header, exhaust manifold, radiator, etc.

Each 11.75-ounce can is enough to cover up to 6 sq ft. The high heat paint is available in both brush and sprays application methods. The spraying option allows you to paint the hard-to-reach corners. In contrast, the trusty old brush is simpler and allows for a higher degree of control.

Its silver matte finish is simply a feast for the eyes. With this coating, you can rejuvenate your car and give it a classic custom look. Because of its corrosion resistance, the ceramic coating can maintain a new look for years to come.

Highlighted Features

  • Ceramic-based formula makes it extremely resistant to heat
  • High corrosion resistance allows rust-free performance for a long time
  • Vigorous bonding makes the coating extremely durable
  • Silver matte finish gives the car a custom look
  • 1400°F operational temperature is perfect for both engine headers and exhaust systems

Things to Consider Before Buying Header Paint

Now you've got the list of the best header coatings available in the market, one of the spray paints has already scratched your sloe with a deep impression. Or maybe you're hesitant a bit because the others beside it are also very cool. To pull you out of your dilemma, here're some key aspects you may look for to make your pick.

Thermal Endurance

The first thing to look for in paint is the service temperature. It's no secret that the engine generates a lot of heat. This highly concentrated energy raises the surface temperatures to a totally different level. We're talking about an average temperature of 1000°F, or for some engines even more.

At those temperatures, most paints will just vanish away! And that's not all. 1000-1200°F is the average/continuous temperature. Intermittent temperatures can reach as high as 1500°F to 2000°F. So the coatings you're going to choose must be able to withstand these temperatures.

So for a bare minimum, apply paint that can withstand 1200°F to 1500°F. To stay on the safe side, use a high-temperature coatingthat can resist 2000°F.

Resistance to Chipping

Most paints have chipping issues. A few months after the application, some portions of the paint protrude up, cracks form on those layers of paint, and eventually, chips are formed that fall away.

With all those cracks, the aesthetics go out the window. That's not the only problem; the chipping of the coatings exposes the metal surfaces to extremely hot air.

The header becomes particularly prone to elemental damage. Metal starts rusting up. If not tended properly - and tending rust isn't a walk in the park - an item replacement may become necessary.

Ease of Application

While selecting paint, you must choose the one that can be applied easily. If you need to put in too much extra effort, it'll burn you out and affect your performance. On the other hand, a smooth application will allow you to focus on the quality of your work.

First, determine whether you're a can-guy or a brushophilic! A classic brush allows for a high degree of control, and even in untrained hands, the coatings won't get sprayed around all over the place.

But for a heavy-duty job, it may tire you up. That's where a spray bottle comes in handy. With a bit of care, you can apply spray paint with utmost ease.

Rust Resistance

One of the primary reasons for applying the paint is to prevent rusting. So the coatings must be rust-resistant. Generally, the coating that can withstand hot gas and oil spill is rust-proof. A good quality coating with rust resistance will maintain the pristine condition for years to come.


Last but not least, the price! Once you've pinned down the kind of paint you're looking for, the ones that check out all the boxes, you may find out that they cost a leg or an arm!

Does it mean you can't get a paint that's pocket-friendly? Nope. Good paints at reasonable prices are available, you just have to do a bit of research, and for that, our list will help you out.

How to Paint Headers?

To apply the coating, you'll have to follow these steps: sanding, cleaning, priming, covering, spraying/brushing, and dry-curing. Once you've chosen the perfect high temp coating, you must ensure the paint gets vigorous adhesion and curing.

Step One - Preparation and Ideal Condition

For perfect adhesion to the metal surface, sand the metal thoroughly. The degree of sanding will depend on the scale of the rust formation. Once the header is sparkling after sanding, remove the flakey residue. Then start priming: make sure the environment is within 60°F to 95°F and has less than 60% humidity.

Step Two - Painting and Curing

Once prime conditions are met, cover up the places you don't want to paint and start spraying or brushing the coating onto the surface. After you've applied the coating, wait for an hour. Then cure the paint by heating it for an hour at up to 450°F.

The high temp paint may release some smoke. Don't worry; it's harmless. Leave it for an hour, and then you're good to go.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are header paints safe?

It depends on what you mean by 'safe'. Like most chemicals, these paints will cause harm to the body if it gets to the mouth or an open wound. But it's not harmful to general exposure to the skin at all. But we do recommend washing it off and not letting the paint set on your skin for a long period.

2. How long does a header painted with header coatings last?

Suppose you've applied a high temp coating and done it after proper surface preparation. In that case, the header will easily last for 3 to 5 years. Spray paint can greatly increase the performance and durability of the engine.

3. How do I remove the temporary header paint?

To remove the paint from the header, you'll have to apply an aircraft-grade stripper. Spray the stripper onto the header and let it soak. With a bright red scotch, you'll be able to loosen up the coating.

4. Is the header paint applicable on any surface?

Yes and no! The paint gives thermal protection, rust resistance, and aesthetic appeal to any metal surface. Especially those exposed to extremely high temperatures. So any metal surface? Yes. Woods or plastics? No.

Any automobile engine and exhaust system, whether a car, pickup, or truck, is perfectly suited for being painted on by coatings. The same goes for your kitchen grill! After all, it also faces heat and oil.

5. Can the header coatings withstand salty water?

This varies from paint to paint. Some can triumphantly withstand salt erosion, and some will get damaged pretty easily.

6. Does exhaust header paint protect from UV rays?

These coatings are designed to safeguard metal surfaces from extremely high temperatures and elemental damage. But as for its UV protection, this is an urban legend. There's no proof against it.

7. Which type of header paint is better - liquid or spray?

Both have their ups and downs. If you're not a professional, go for the trusty brush and start painting. There's no trick or skill required. It's simple, and you're in complete control. For a novice, spraying can get really messy and ruin the whole process.

But if you're a pro, you know how easy it is to apply spray paint at the hard-to-reach corners of the workpiece. It saves a lot of time and effort. And to avoid a mess, you may cover up the unwanted surfaces with sheets.

Final Words

At this point, probably you've already chosen the best header paint that suits you the most. If you haven't made up your mind already, here's the trick: read the buying guide first and then go through the list once again. You'll definitely get the one you need.

For an overall experience, you can pick the Rust-Oleum 248903 Flat Black High Heat Spray. Additionally, the Dupli-Color Ceramic Semi-Gloss Black Engine Paintand Rust-Oleum Automotive High Heat Spray Paint are some excellent options too!

No matter which one you choose from our list, you'll be satisfied; that's a promise.

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