How to Masterfully Apply Cerakote: A Step-by-Step Guide


To apply cerakote, first, clean the surface thoroughly and prep it with sandblasting or chemical etching. Then, apply the cerakote using a spray gun or airbrush technique.

Cerakote is a popular ceramic-based coating that many people use to coat firearms, knives, and other metal items. It is known for its durability, scratch resistance, and protection against rust and corrosion. Applying cerakote is a meticulous process that involves proper surface preparation, careful application, and curing.

In this article, we will discuss the step-by-step process of applying cerakote and the tools and techniques required to achieve a successful coat. Whether you are a hobbyist or professional firearm refinisher, this guide will provide you with all the necessary information to apply cerakote like a pro.

How to Masterfully Apply Cerakote: A Step-by-Step Guide


Understanding Cerakote

What Is Cerakote?

Cerakote is a ceramic-based coating used to protect firearms, as well as other equipment such as knives and tools. It was developed in 1984 and utilized primarily in the automotive industry and later became popular in the gun community. It is a liquid coating applied through a spray gun and then baked in an oven to create a durable and protective finish.

Benefits Of Using Cerakote For Coating Firearms

Using cerakote for coating firearms offers several benefits such as:

  • Protection against scratches, wear, and corrosion
  • Improved durability and longer lifespan
  • Resistance to harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures, and uv rays
  • Enhanced appearance and customizable finish options
  • Reduced friction, making it easier to clean and maintain

Differences Between Cerakote And Other Gun Coatings

While there are several types of gun coatings available, cerakote provides some significant differences, including:

  • Ceramic-based coating, making it harder and more durable
  • Wide range of customizable colors and finishes
  • Resistant to extreme temperatures, chemicals, and solvents
  • Provides improved lubricity, making the firearm easier to clean and maintain
  • Superior adhesion, reducing the risk of chipping or flaking

Overall, cerakote offers superior protection and a customizable finish, making it an excellent choice for coating firearms and other equipment.

Preparing For Cerakote Application

Safety Guidelines

Before you start, it’s important to follow some safety guidelines to ensure that you’re handling cerakote as safely as possible. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure to wear gloves to avoid skin contact with the chemicals in cerakote.
  • Use a respirator mask to avoid inhaling the fumes produced during the application process.
  • Cerakote should only be used in well-ventilated areas. Therefore, it’s best to do it outside or in a well-ventilated workspace.
  • Keep any open flames or smoking materials away from the workspace as cerakote is highly flammable.

Selecting The Appropriate Workspace And Tools

Selecting the right workspace and tools is crucial if you want to achieve optimal results. Here are some key things to consider:

  • Pick a workspace free from dust and dirt. We recommend having a clean and dedicated workbench.
  • You will need some basic tools such as a spray gun, compressor, and ether or acetone to prep the surface before application.
  • The workspace should be large enough to accommodate the firearm and any sandblasting or etching equipment.

Stripping The Firearm Of Its Previous Coating

The first step in cerakote application is to strip the firearm of its previous coating. This is important because cerakote does not adhere well to old finishes. Here are three ways to strip your firearm:

  • Chemical strippers: These work by breaking down the chemical structure of the previous coating.
  • Sandblasting: Using a sandblaster is an efficient way of removing a previous coating. However, it’s important to make sure that you don’t damage the metal underneath.
  • Etching: This method uses an acidic solution that eats away at the previous coating.

Cleaning And Degreasing The Firearm

Once the old finish has been removed, it’s important to clean and degrease the firearm to ensure a clean surface for cerakote application. Here are some tips:

  • Clean the surface with ether or acetone to remove any oils, grease, or other contaminants.
  • Use a clean, lint-free cloth to dry the firearm after cleaning.
  • Take care to remove any excess solvent before applying cerakote.

Sandblasting Or Etching The Firearm

Before applying cerakote, it’s important to prepare the surface of the firearm. Sandblasting or etching can help ensure good adhesion of the coating. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Sandblasting involves blasting the surface of the firearm with abrasive particles. This creates a textured surface that cerakote can bond to.
  • Etching involves applying an acidic solution to the surface of the firearm. This also creates a textured surface that the coating can bond to.

Masking Off Specific Areas Of The Firearm

When applying cerakote, you may need to mask off certain areas of the firearm to ensure that they don’t get coated accidentally. This is common when you only want a certain part of the firearm to be coated. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Use high-temperature masking tape to mask off areas of the firearm that you don’t want coated.
  • Use an exacto knife to carefully trim the edges of the masking tape to ensure a sharp line.

Pre-Heating The Oven To The Right Temperature

Once you’re ready to apply cerakote, you need to set the oven to the right temperature to ensure optimal curing. Here are some tips:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the oven temperature and curing time.
  • It’s important to ensure that the oven is preheated before placing the firearm inside. This ensures consistent and even curing.
  • Once the firearm is inside the oven, monitor the temperature regularly to ensure that it stays consistent throughout the curing process.

Applying Cerakote

Applying Cerakote – A Step-By-Step Guide

Cerakote is a durable finish that’s known for providing corrosion resistance, high-quality appearance and protection. Whether you’re coating your hunting rifle or customizing your competition pistol, applying cerakote is a task that anyone can handle. This guide will take you through the process step-by-step, from mixing the cerakote properly to applying the high-temperature coating for exhaust systems or suppressors.

Mixing The Cerakote Properly

Before you can start the application process, you need to prepare the cerakote mixture correctly. Here are some essential things to keep in mind when mixing the cerakote:

  • Mix the cerakote with the catalyst following the instructions on the cerakote bottle to ensure its chemical reaction.
  • Always use a clean and well-ventilated mixing area.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear, including gloves, a respiratory mask, and safety goggles.

Remember, the cerakote’s mixture is only usable for up to six hours after mixing, so only mix the amount you’ll use.

Using A Spray Gun To Apply Cerakote To The Firearm

After making cerakote’s mixture, it’s time to spray the firearm using a spray gun. Applying the cerakote with the spray gun is straightforward, but there are some things you need to keep in mind:

  • Set the spray gun’s air pressure at 17-22 psi.
  • Hold the spray gun 6-8 inches away from the firearm.
  • Spray the firearm with slow and even strokes, moving from side to side.

Before you start spraying, make sure the firearm is clean and free of dirt, oil, and debris. It would be best if you moved the spray gun against the firearm’s contours to ensure that the coat is even and smooth.

Applying Multiple Layers Of Cerakote

To achieve the best results, it’s recommended to apply multiple coats of cerakote. Here are some tips for applying multiple layers of cerakote:

  • Apply thin coats of cerakote using a spray gun.
  • Wait 10-20 minutes between each coat.
  • Repeat the process until the desired thickness and color are achieved.

Remember, it’s better to apply several small layers than to apply one thick one. This will ensure a more even and smooth finish.

Avoiding Common Mistakes During The Application

While applying cerakote, it’s crucial to avoid making some common mistakes, such as:

  • Over-spraying
  • Holding the spray gun too close
  • Not waiting between coats
  • Using dirty or contaminated equipment

You can avoid these mistakes by being patient, taking your time, and making sure that each coat is even and smooth. If anything goes wrong, you can generally fix the issue by sanding down the coat and reapplying it.

Applying A High-Temperature Coating For Exhaust Systems Or Suppressors

If you’re applying cerakote for exhaust systems or suppressors, you need to use a high-temperature coating. Follow these steps for the best results:

  • Use a 240-grit sandpaper to roughen the surface.
  • Mix the cerakote with the catalyst according to the instructions on the bottle.
  • Use the spray gun to apply the cerakote.
  • Heat cure the coating at 250°f for 2 hours.

Keep in mind that high-temperature coatings require you to use the correct type of cerakote and the right treatment process. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid causing damage to the system.

Applying cerakote to your firearm is a simple process that you can handle on your own. All you need to do is mix the cerakote properly, use a spray gun to apply it evenly, apply multiple coats, avoid common mistakes, and use the correct process for high-temperature coatings.

Curing And Oven Settings

Applying cerakote to a firearm can be a precise and intricate process that requires careful attention to detail. One of the most crucial aspects of the process is curing, which involves setting the correct temperature and duration for the firearm to cure properly.

But how can you ensure that you’re going about this correctly? Let’s take a closer look at some of the key points involved in curing cerakote.

Setting The Temperature And Duration For Curing The Cerakote

  • Curing temperature and duration can vary depending on the type of cerakote being used. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for best results.
  • Typical curing temperature ranges between 250°f and 300°f, with a cure time of one hour. Curing time can be extended up to two hours for thicker coatings.
  • Be sure the firearm is completely dry and free of any oil or solvents before curing.

The Importance Of Following The Manufacturer’S Instructions

  • Cerakote is designed to cure at specific temperatures and times to achieve maximum durability and longevity. Deviating from the manufacturer’s instructions could lead to unexpected results.
  • Improper curing can lead to a weaker coating, increased porosity, and reduced durability over time.

Using A Thermometer To Ensure The Firearm Reaches The Correct Temperature

  • Using a laser thermometer or similar device can ensure that the firearm has reached the correct temperature for curing.
  • Aim the thermometer at the surface of the firearm and wait for the temperature to stabilize. If it’s below the recommended range, increase the temperature and try again.
  • Avoid opening the oven door frequently during the curing process as this can reduce the oven’s temperature and affect the curing process.

The Effects Of Under-Curing Or Over-Curing

  • Under-curing can lead to a weak and porous coating that can quickly wear and chip away.
  • Over-curing can cause the coating to become brittle and prone to cracking, which also reduces its ability to withstand wear and tear.
  • Checking the firearm for signs of proper curing once it has cooled down is crucial. Look for a smooth, even coating that adheres firmly to the surface of the firearm.

By following the manufacturer’s instructions closely, using a thermometer to ensure the correct temperature, and properly checking for signs of curing, you can ensure your firearm’s cerakote coating is durable and long-lasting.

Post Application

Proper Cleaning And Maintenance Of The Firearm Post-Application

Once you have completed the cerakote application process, it is vital to maintain your firearm properly. Here are some key points to consider when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your gun:

  • Avoid using strong solvents or abrasive cleaners as they could damage the cerakote finish. Instead, use mild cleaners and lubricants recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Regularly clean your firearm using a soft cloth and a gentle cleaning solution to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated over time.
  • Keep your firearm dry and store it in a cool, dry place to prevent rust or corrosion.
  • Before storing your firearm, apply a thin coat of oil or lubricant to the moving parts to prevent rusting and ensure proper operation.

Handling Long-Term Exposure To Elements And Solvents

Exposure to harsh elements and solvents can have a significant impact on the life of your firearm. Here are some tips to ensure your cerakote finish lasts:

  • Keep your firearm away from direct sunlight for extended periods. Exposure to uv rays can cause the finish to fade or crack.
  • Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures or environments that could cause the cerakote finish to degrade.
  • Use protective covers or cases to keep your firearm safe from exposure to elements such as rain or snow.
  • Be wary of any harsh solvents or chemicals that may come into contact with your firearm and cause damage to the cerakote finish.

Inspecting And Evaluating The Firearm Post-Application

It is essential to inspect and evaluate your firearm post-application to ensure the cerakote finish is intact and performing as expected. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Regularly inspect your firearm for any signs of wear or damage to the cerakote finish.
  • Look for any scratches, chips, or dings and assess any areas where the finish appears to be coming off.
  • If you notice any issues, take your firearm to a professional gunsmith who can assess and determine the best course of action for repair.

Troubleshooting Common Issues Post-Application

Even with proper care and maintenance, issues can arise post-application. Here are some common problems and their solutions:

  • If you notice the finish is uneven or blotchy, this may be due to improper surface preparation. The solution would be to strip the current finish and repeat the surface preparation process, ensuring you take extra care in the application process.
  • If you experience areas where the coating is peeling or cracking, this may be due to poor application techniques. The remedy for this issue would again be to strip the current finish and repeat the preparation and application processes.
  • If you notice any other issues with your cerakote finish post-application, it is always wise to consult with a professional to determine the best course of action.

Frequently Asked Questions For How To Apply Cerakote

What Is Cerakote And Why Is It Used?

Cerakote is a ceramic-based coating used to protect and enhance the appearance of firearms, knives, and other metal objects. It provides superior wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and durability. It also comes in different colors and finishes to match different aesthetics.

Can I Apply Cerakote Myself?

Yes, you can apply cerakote yourself with a few tools and supplies. However, it requires practice and skill to achieve a professional-looking finish. It is recommended to take a cerakote training course or seek guidance from an experienced applicator before attempting it yourself.

Which Tools Do I Need To Apply Cerakote?

To apply cerakote, you will need an airbrush or spray gun, an air compressor, a sandblaster or abrasive blaster, a degreasing solution, a heat source, and cerakote paint. You also need safety gear such as a respirator, gloves, and eye protection.

How Do I Prepare The Surface For Cerakote Application?

The surface to be coated must be thoroughly cleaned and degreased using a solution such as acetone or brake cleaner. It should then be sandblasted to create a rough surface that will better adhere to the cerakote. After sandblasting, the surface must be cleaned again to remove any debris or dust.

Can I Apply Cerakote On Any Surface?

Cerakote can be applied to metals, plastics, and some woods. However, not all materials are suitable for cerakote application. Non-metal surfaces may require a special adhesion promoter while high-temperature metals such as titanium may require a different curing process. It is recommended to consult with the manufacturer for specific guidelines.


To sum up, applying cerakote is a great way to not only add aesthetic appeal to your firearms but also to protect them from wear and tear. To ensure a successful application, it is crucial to properly prepare the surface and follow all instructions and safety precautions.

With the right tools and techniques, you can achieve a durable and long-lasting finish that will make your firearms look as good as new. Additionally, it is important to remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out exactly as planned.

Keep honing your skills and before you know it, you’ll be a cerakote application expert. Happy spraying!

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