THIS STUFF IS NOT YOUR AVERAGE SPRAY PAINT...
For years, our only options to make off-road cars look pretty and protect the metal was powder coat or spray paint. Powder coats are great because they are durable and, if done right, will last a very long time. But it is costly and time-consuming to do. Build a car, make sure everything fits right, send all your parts to the powder coater, pay the man, bring it home, and reassemble. It is an annoying process, and you can’t touch it up if it gets chipped or scratched. The next best alternative was spray paint. Head to Home Depot, pick your poison, shake it up and do the best you can. This made making changes easy, but it wasn't durable and if your skills are like mine, it looked like the cheap rattle can job from Home Depot that it was.
Enter STEEL-IT, a company that wasn't happy with these options so they created their own. After spending years looking for a better option than the two mentioned above, we may have found it. STEEL-IT comes in a rattle can and although the price per can is significantly more than the cheap spray paint, what comes out is well worth the cost. These guys figured out how to actually stuff colored 316L stainless steel in a can. This will easily allow you to spray it onto a surface. You read that correctly, they put a non-corrosive metal flake in a can for us to enjoy. These micro flakes grip to the metal, creating a layer of protection that is easy and cost-effective to touch up.
From the marketing fluff, this seems to be a solution to a problem for a lot of us. As the old media cliche goes, “we put it to the ultimate test”. Our 2020 Kawasaki KRX 1000 is in process of being turned into an adventure rig, and Brick City Fabrication in Phoenix, AZ, built us a stout roll cage to bolt-on. Once I had all the raw pieces in hand, there was a very short window to get this car together. It would be sweet to have a paint booth and gun to lay this product down, but like most, we don’t have that option. Following the instructions, I made sure all the parts were wiped down and clean of any oils, greases, and contaminants. My spray painting skills aren't what they used to be but as the coats were laid down, the product made up for that. In turn, making me look good. The drips and imperfections from my lack of talent dried in almost a perfectly smooth, professional finish.
Once all the parts were coated per STEEL-IT recommendations, the car came together pretty quickly. So quickly in fact that I forgot to weld the tabs for the Baja Designs lights on. This is where I would generally get pissed off, pull the cage back off the car, grind the powder coat away, weld on the tabs, and ship parts back to the coater. I was able to avoid this process, as STEEL-IT claims you can weld right through their product as if it was clean metal. Again, let's put this stuff to the ultimate test to see if that's a true statement. With no prep work, the tabs burned into place and were solid. No funky popping and sputtering from the welder like what you get when you're trying to burn through regular paint and other shmutz.
Once the parts were cooled, a quick touch up job was done and you would never know that I forgot the tabs in the first place. Overall I was very impressed with the product. The time and money savings over the powder coat were amazing, while the quality of the finish was much better (and should be MUCH more durable) than a canned spray job.
This will be the new go-to for all our shop cars as we are constantly swapping and remounting new products and always on the rush to get it done. I highly recommend you give STEEL-IT a clean shot, it makes life easy and looks good doing it!
Story Source: UTV Sports Magazine / Issue June 2020 Vol. 7 Issue 6