Running Boards: Does Finish Affect Durability?

Updated on Aug 24, 2023

Written by
 RealTruck Expert Team

When it comes to running boards and nerf bars, there is some debate as to which finish is better. Is a powder-coated finish more durable than a polished finish, or vice versa? Though there are some differences, the best finish is ultimately up to your own personal preference. We’ll break down the finishes and give examples of each so you can decide which is best for your application.

Running Board And Nerf Bar Finishes

Powder Coating

A powder-coated finish provides a continuous, uniform coating that looks great and is resistant to rust, corrosion, and scratches, making it appropriate for all weather conditions from snow to heat and coastal wear and tear. This finish is typically found on carbon steel and other metals that are not inherently resistant to rust and corrosion as the finish provides a barrier for increased durability and resistance to the elements. A powder-coated finish is achieved with electrically charged particles that are dry sprayed onto an electrically grounded product. The charged powder sticks to the grounded surface, and from there the product gets cured (baked) so that the powder forms a durable coating.


The distinct parallel lines found on brushed steel are achieved with abrasive grit belts that produce a uniform buffed look while creating a slight sheen. The brushed look is desirable because its attractive style combines with a less reflective surface that doesn't cause excessive glare. Brushed finishes are more commonly found on aluminum products, which are naturally resistant to rust and corrosion, but steel products may also have brushed finishes. When cleaning, pay more attention to steel due to its susceptibility to rust and corrosion.

Polished / Mirror

A polished or mirror finish creates a lustrous shine that is highly reflective. This finish is easy to clean, and, as any scratches are buffed out in the polishing phase of production, polished boards and bars are corrosion resistant. Though the reflective surface can cause glare, boards and bars made with a polished finish are easy to see in low lighting conditions due to their reflective surface. Polished finishes are commonly found on stainless steel products, which are innately resistant to rust and corrosion.

Whichever running board or nerf bar finish you go with, rest assured that it’s covered from defects in materials and workmanship for the full extent of its warranty. If you have questions, chat or call our product experts.

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