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How to make stainless steel non-conductive

Q. So will any metal paint or like a urethane alkyd and elastomeric paint make stainless non conductive? Wanted to paint a pool railing so it wouldn't have to be bonded.

Jw Josh
- Philadelphia Pennsylvania
June 5, 2024

A. Hi JW. You can coat stainless steel with elastomeric thermoplastics like nylon or vinyl, probably sufficient to prevent a 110V shock, but even in the best case it will crack and peel over the years. Personally I wouldn't chance it, but that's me and my circumstances, not necessarily yours.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. Hi,
we are looking for a finishing method to stop stainless steel from conducting electricity in our custom stainless steel switches

Ron Mangiantine
buyer - Providence, Rhode Island, USA
May 11, 2011

A. Regrettably stainless steel is a metal, so it will be an electrical conductor. The only way you can make it non conducting (i.e., insulated), is to coat it in a non-conducting layer, such as a paint or polymer. If it is not going to be exposed to any abrasive wear, you should be able to use an epoxy resin or polyurethane coating. However, if the coating is allowed to fail it will expose the steel and the assembly will be conducting again.

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK

Q. Dear Mr Crichton

I really admire the clarity of your answer.

May I go further in asking you whether the transparent nail varnish is a non-conducting material e.g. to make an ordinary galvanised bolt non-conducting?

I anxiously look forward to hearing your reply.

Best regards,

Anthony Dernellis
- Athens, Greece
December 17, 2016

insulating a bolt

A. Hi Anthony. Most organic coatings, including nail varnish, are non-conductive. But there is a difference between being a non-conductor and being a robust & dependable insulator. Nail varnish isn't even intended to be used on metal, so its adhesion may be poor, especially on galvanizing, where paint adhesion often is poor. The best way to insulate bolts is with micarta or fiberglass washers and bushings. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
December 2016

A. Hi Anthony,
I completely agree with Ted's comments and would only add that we have used nail varnish for many years with success in situations such as you describe. We have not had any problems so far!!

blake kneedler
Blake Kneedler
Feather Hollow Eng. - Stockton, California

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