Painted vs. Powder-Coated Nerf Bars: What’s the Difference?

BY MICHAEL D.

They go by a lot of names – nerf bars, running boards, side steps. No matter what you call them, these helpful platforms don’t just give you a step up into your high-off-the-ground vehicle. They’re also a literal bulwark against blunt or hard-edged off-road obstacles. But you take as much pride in your vehicle’s appearance as you do its overall toughness, which is why you want to invest in a set of bars that looks as good a few years in as they did on Day One.

Why painted-black or enameled nerf bars aren’t the way to go

While it takes far less time to apply, a simple coat of paint won’t suffice if you want your nerf bars’ coat to hold up over time. Not only will they start to chip or peel after enough love-taps from the odd boulder or branch, but a painted or enameled bar is more vulnerable to exogenous chemical reactions. You won’t want to accidentally spill lacquer thinner on your new nerfs if they’ve only been painted.

Why powder-coated nerf bars are what you want

By contrast, powder-coated nerf bars and running boards are much more robust – and they’re designed to be that way. The coating process, known as “e-coating,” involves electrically charging the media, or powder-coat material, and the item in question – in this case, your steel-crafted nerf bar. After the powder-coating has been shot into the part, the bar is then baked in an oven. The coating sticks to the bar much better than paint ever could on the molecular level, which means that the finished product will be more resistant to dings, scratches and cracks. Steelcraft is one brand that lives and dies by e-coating.

You won’t be surprised to find that such a high-level job and the guarantee that comes with it lead to a slightly higher price tag for powder-coated nerf bars. But it also means you’re investing in a far superior piece of equipment, so it’s well worth it.

Another alternative

We also carry a number of nerf bars with a stylish textured finish. This urethane-based coating is neither baked-on nor electrically charged, but actually painted on, though there’s a difference between these and the kind we mentioned earlier. They’re still tougher than your standard black-painted nerf bars or running boards, and as close to powder-coated as you’re going to get, and the liner-like material, while no more durable than the powder-coat, is a definite aesthetic upgrade. The price gap between these and powder-coated bars is almost negligible, so all it really comes down to is a matter of taste. Just one more option for your consideration.

NAMES YOU CAN TRUST

We carry a wide selection of nerf bars and running boards from some of the best names in the biz, including Westin, ProZ, Smittybilt and Luverne. But, although they can all take a beating, the majority have been powder-coated prior to shipping out and will do much better than any whose exterior has been painted on. Be wary of inferior coatings out there and if the price seems too good to be true, take a look at a powder-coated pair of nerf bars that are both bold and beautiful.

Conclusion

Now that you have a better understanding of how much better a powder-coat will serve your nerf bars than a simple paintjob, you can both shop and face the off-road with greater confidence than when you started. Be sure to leave a comment below if you have any questions, recommendations or good things to say about our product line.