Most kettlebells are made from cast iron but the coating or finish on the outside is usually something else than bare metal. In this article, we’ll go through what finishes and coatings you can find on a kettlebell and what the pros and cons are.
- 1 Kettlebell Coatings and Finishes
- 2 Kettlebell Handle Finishes & Coatings
|Painted Finish||Various color options, easy to maintain||Less durable, requires frequent maintenance.|
|Enamel Coating||Smooth and polished appearance||May chip if dropped on a hard surface, durable but not indestructible|
|Vinyl Cover||Protects kettlebell and floors, less noisy||Vinyl can tear over time.|
|Powder Coating||Enhanced grip and feel, durable, and chip-resistant||Premium price, no floor protection|
|Rubber Coating||Softer and quieter on floors, reduces noise||Durability may vary, potential for cement core in some cases|
|Neoprene Cover||Soft and comfortable grip, floor protection||Premium price|
|Ceramic Coating||Unique appearance, rust resistance||Fragile, can chip if dropped on a hard surface|
|Plastic Cover||Budget-friendly, colorful||Less durable, potential for cracked covers, often with cement core inside|
Kettlebell Coatings and Finishes
1. Painted Finish
The most basic coating is a simple layer of paint. This can come in various colors. Painted kettlebells may be less durable than enamel or powder-coated options and may require more maintenance to prevent chipping.
While paint is effective at preventing corrosion and helps to make the kettlebell look nicer, it’s not a very durable option. It tends to wear off pretty quickly. On the other hand, paint is easy to apply yourself so it’s not difficult to put a new coat on.
Finish isn’t the only thing to look at when buying kettlebells, there are a ton of other factors. Click here to go to our kettlebell buying guide.
2. Enamel Coating
Some kettlebells are coated with enamel paint, which gives them a smoother and more polished appearance. Enamel-coated kettlebells are resistant to rust and corrosion, making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
Enamel is quite durable although it can chip if the kettlebell is dropped on a hard surface.
3. Vinyl Cover
Vinyl-coated kettlebells have a layer of vinyl material that covers the cast iron core. This coating not only adds color and style but also protects the kettlebell from damage. Vinyl-coated kettlebells are often chosen for home workouts as they are gentle on floors and less noisy when dropped.
Usually, the handle isn’t covered in vinyl so you still have the feel of metal in your hands.
Usually, underneath the vinyl, there is another coating to protect the iron from rust. Usually enamel or powder coating. That’s because water can get between the vinyl cover and the kettlebell and cause rust if the iron isn’t protected.
4. Powder Coating
Kettlebells with a powder coating have a textured, matte finish. This type of finish enhances grip by providing a slightly rough surface. Powder-coated kettlebells are known for their durability, resistance to chipping, and corrosion resistance.
They look great and feel great to handle. However, this coating usually comes at a premium.
5. Rubber/Urethane Coating
Some kettlebells have a rubber coating, which provides a softer and quieter surface when placed on floors. Rubber-coated kettlebells are gentle on surfaces and reduce noise but may not be as durable as other coatings.
Sometimes rubber-coated kettlebells have a cement or concrete interior. On those kettlebells, the handles are just attached by pouring the cement around them. This isn’t the safest thing in the world.
However, not all kettlebells with rubber covers are like this, many are made from cast iron which is great.
Urethane covered kettlebells also exist. Urethane behaves a lot like rubber but is more durable. This is a great choice if you like this type of exterior.
6. Neoprene Cover
Neoprene-coated kettlebells have a layer of neoprene rubber that covers the cast iron core. This coating provides a soft and comfortable grip and also protects floors from damage. This is comparable to vinyl but it’s a better feeling and looking material which therefore means you pay more for it.
Just like vinyl-covered kettlebells, the neoprene doesn’t cover the handles.
7. Ceramic Coating
While less common, some kettlebells feature a ceramic coating. This type of coating can provide a unique, colorful appearance and resistance to rust. However, ceramic-coated kettlebells may be more fragile than other options.
While ceramic coating is very hard, it can chip if dropped on a hard surface. So while these look good, you have to use them in combination with gym flooring to dampen the impact. The handles feel very nice to hold but ceramic coated kettlebells can be very expensive which is why they’re pretty rare.
8. Plastic Cover
Some kettlebells feature a plastic cover, which is similar to vinyl but may be less durable. Plastic-coated kettlebells are often colorful and suitable for beginners or those looking for a budget-friendly option.
The downside is that the interior of plastic kettlebells is often made from cement or concrete. That isn’t great to begin with but on top of that, the plastic covers can crack quite easily and then you’ve got exposed concrete.
Kettlebell Handle Finishes & Coatings
Above we mainly talked about the coating and finish of the body of the kettlebell. Usually, the body and handle will have the same finish but there are a few exceptions.
Kettlebell handles with chrome plating have a smooth, shiny, and reflective surface. Chrome handles are resistant to rust and provide a sleek appearance. Chrome is also a very effective rust protector.
While they look good, they may require chalk for better grip during intense workouts. Chrome gets very slippery, especially when your hands get sweaty.
Raw Cast Iron
Sometimes, the body of a kettlebell is coated or painted but the handle is left ‘raw’. This type of handle has a textured, slightly rough surface that can provide a good grip, especially when used with chalk.
While raw handles feel good, they do tend to rust quickly so you have to be on top of cleaning and maintaining your bell.
Many kettlebells have some type of texture on the handle meaning it’s not as smooth as glass. That’s not what I’m talking about here. Knurling is the cross-hatched pattern you can also find on dumbbells and barbells. It provides grip for your hands. While not a coating or cover, you can count knurling as a finish.
Most kettlebells don’t have this since on many kettlebell movements, the handle is actually supposed to rotate in your hands which knurling would make difficult. If you need more grip, it’s better to use chalk. The knurling would tear up your hands during rotations while chalk won’t.
However, there are kettlebells with knurled handles out there if you want it.
By the way: If you’re not 100% sure if you should buy kettlebells or dumbbells, click here to find an in-depth article comparing the two.
Vinyl or neoprene-covered kettlebells often don’t have that material on the handles. Often the handle of these kettlebells is finished with enamel.
Kettlebell handles with enamel coating have a smooth and polished finish. Enamel provides a comfortable grip and is resistant to rust and corrosion. Enamel-coated handles are commonly found in commercial gyms and are easy to clean and maintain.
Just like above, vinyl or neoprene-covered kettlebells are usually finished with something else underneath and that shows on the handle. Enamel is the most common for covered kettlebells but powder coating is also possible.
Powder coating has a matte finish which feels nice, holds chalk well and is durable.