Top Ten Reasons Enamel Is a Poor Range Hood Coating

April 06, 2023 7 min read

In most kitchens, one of the essential but sadly overlooked kitchen appliances is the range hood. Range hoods reduce the pollutants that can build up in the kitchen and affect air quality. But with so many range hoods and coatings available, choosing the right one for your needs can be challenging.

Like most kitchenware, range hoods are now coated with enamel coats, which is a bad idea. People often think enamel coating on range hoods will have the same benefits as enamel coating on other kitchen appliances. This article will correct that oversight and explain why enamel is not the best choice for range hood coatings.

But before we reel out the reasons to avoid enamel coating, a brief explainer of what enamel coating is a tad necessary.

What Is Enamel Coating?

Enamel coating is a type of paint commonly used on various surfaces to provide a hard, glossy, and durable finish. It is usually made by fusing powdered glass onto a metal surface through a high-temperature firing process.

Enamel coats are vitreous, glassy, and often opaque substances made from several silica-based compounds. They are often applied in liquid or powder form as a protective or decorative coating over metal or ceramics. When applied to metal surfaces such as steel, aluminum, copper, or cast iron, this inorganic coating produces a stiff, glossy, and luster paint finish.

It combines visually attractive characteristics, such as lustrous hues, with outstanding physical capabilities, such as increased durability and corrosion resistance on any surface. From boilers and cookers to ovens and washing machines, enamel-coated finishes are everywhere.

The effectiveness of a range hood varies depending on the type of coating used, and enamel may not be the best choice. Let’s dive into why applying an enamel coating to your range hood is not sustainable and environmentally sound.

Why Enamel Isn't a Great Coating for Your Range Hood

People often think that coating your range hood will make it more durable and corrosion-resistant. But applying an enamel coat finish to your range hood is not sustainable and has many environmental impacts with several health downsides. Some of the notable ones include:

1. Enamel Coatings are Prone to Chipping and Peeling

Enamel coatings are often chosen for range hoods because they have a tough and shiny appearance. But this doesn’t factor in the fact that enamel coatings can easily be chipped or scratched with regular use in the kitchen. The enamel can get damaged if it’s hit or gets too hot, which can make it start to chip or peel. Things like bumps, high heat, or just using it a lot over time are usually to blame for this kind of damage. So, even though enamel might look nice at first, it might not be the best choice for something that’s going to get a lot of use in a busy kitchen.

enamel coating on white kitchen with range hood

2. Enamel Coatings Can Be Difficult to Clean

A notable disadvantage of range hood coatings is that enamel coatings are challenging to clean. The enamel coat is kind of like a very porous sponge with lots of tiny holes, so it can get stained or change color pretty easily. Before you know it, dirt and oily stuff have leeched into the holes and made it tough to get it sparkling again.

Plus, when you do try to clean it, you’ve got to be careful. A lot of the usual cleaners are too strong and can mess up the enamel, making things worse. This can leave your range hood looking patchy and worn out. This is not only unsightly but can also impact the range hood's performance. Without regular and thorough cleaning, grease and other particles can build up and cause the range hood to become less effective.

3. Enamel Coatings are Not Resistant to High Heat

Enamel coatings are not designed to withstand the intense heat generated by cooking. That’s a big deal because it means it’s not the best choice for a range hood finish. When things get hot, like really hot, that shiny enamel can start to look not-so-great. The glossy paint can discolor, peel off, or even crack, leaving your range hood looking worn and damaged. This can be a big headache for chefs or homeowners who regularly use intense cooking methods like broiling or searing.

You'll want to consider a more heat-resistant option if you value your range hood's longevity and don't want to deal with unsightly discoloration or peeling paint. Steer clear of enamel coatings and opt for a range hood with a heat-resistant coating, and you'll have one less thing to worry about.

4. Potential Buildup of Bacteria and Pathogens in Cracks

Enamel coatings, over time, can develop tiny cracks due to wear and tear or exposure to heat. These tiny cracks are perfect spots for greasy stuff and water to get stuck, and that’s like rolling out the welcome mat for nasty germs and bugs to move in. This is because bacteria and pathogens need a surface to attach to and grow on, and enamel's porous nature makes it easier for them to find a foothold. Also, since enamel isn’t super smooth, it’s harder to give it a good scrub, which means those germs can really settle in.

If left unchecked, this buildup of bacteria and pathogens can pose a serious health risk to anyone who uses the kitchen. Improper ventilation can allow these contaminants to spread throughout the kitchen and surrounding areas, leading to respiratory issues or even foodborne illnesses.

enamel coatings fade out

5. Enamel Coatings are Susceptible to Fading

Enamel coatings are susceptible to fading when bombarded with direct sunlight. Those vibrant colors you admired initially? Turns out they're not as permanent as you thought.  Over time, the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can break down the pigments in the enamel, causing it to fade and lose its vibrancy. This is a real bummer if your range hood is right where the sunlight hits, like by a window or under a skylight. And if you’ve got an outdoor kitchen, that sun is going to be even tougher on it.

Also, when the enamel starts to lose its color, it is often a sign that the enamel coating is also losing its integrity. As it breaks down, it becomes less effective at protecting the metal under the coat from corrosion and other types of damage.

6. Enamel Coatings are Not Environmentally Friendly

Those shiny enamel coatings on your range hood are not exactly good for the planet. These coatings are packed with nasty chemicals and solvents that can pollute the air during production. They also have a pretty short shelf life, meaning they'll need replacing more often than other options. This creates more waste that leaks into the environment when the coating eventually gets thrown away.  But If you’re thinking green, you might want to look at powder-coated finishes instead. They’re a better choice for those who want a longer-lasting, efficient coat for their range hoods.

7. Increased Cases of Enamel Spalling

Ever notice a powdery white substance forming on your range hood's shiny enamel coating? That's enamel spalling, also known as chalking, and it is an aesthetic nightmare. What you often end up with is a rough and bumpy surface rather than a smooth, shiny coat on your range hood. The enamel spalling is often caused by the breakdown of the coating as it gets exposed to moisture and sunlight. This breakdown leaves behind a rough, pitted surface that looks really awful. It also can mess with the range hood’s strength, making it prone to rust and wear.

8. Enamel Coatings Can Limit Design Options

Enamel coatings are notorious for their limited design options. They come in a narrow range of colors and finishes, leaving little room for creative expression. That can be a bummer if you’re very design conscious and want your kitchen appliance to follow a certain design decor. Imagine wanting a vibrant red range hood to add a pop of color to your modern kitchen. But finding an enamel coating in that exact shade is proving herculean; you're forced to settle for something close, but it doesn't quite capture the vision you had. That’s why if you’re all about that perfect design, you might need to skip enamel and check out other options that let you get more creative.

9. Enamel Coatings Can Be Expensive

Enamel coatings for range hoods might look beautiful, but they can leave a sizable dent in your wallet. The elaborate manufacturing process, involving specialized equipment and additional layers, significantly contributes to their cost. This can be a major drawback for shoppers watching their spending or those that have multiple range hoods, like commercial kitchens. This is even worse as a quirk of enamel coat is for them to look just right, you might need to pile on more layers, bumping up the price even more. If you’re watching your spending, or you need a bunch of range hoods for a business, the cost of the enamel coat could be a deal-breaker.

10. It Makes the Range Hood Heavy

Enamel coating might not be the best pick for your range hood because it’s pretty heavy. For starters, the coating process often requires adding multiple layers of enamel coats, which adds to the already heavy range hood.  This added burden can turn a simple installation into a frustrating ordeal. The extra weight, thanks to the enamel coating, can put immense strain on the mounting hardware. If not properly reinforced, this added strain can cause cracks in the walls and ceiling or even a complete collapse of the mounting system.  Also, the added weight can make moving or adjusting the range hood difficult if necessary.

Final Thoughts

While enamel coating enhances durability, heat distribution, and aesthetics for most kitchenware, it adversely affects the environment and health when used for range hoods. Its health and safety benefits are lower than any coated ducted range hood. Enamel coatings may not provide adequate protection against heat, moisture, and other environmental factors that can affect the functionality and appearance of range hoods. While enamel coatings may have a lower upfront cost, their susceptibility to chipping, fading, discoloration, and other issues can lead to costly repairs and replacements down the line.

Range hoods provide relief by making cooking less arduous, as they help remove excess heat and improve air quality in the kitchen. Some of the best custom range hoods offer protection against bad kitchen air and excess heat and have excellent aesthetics. Having a vent hood coated with enamel will eliminate most of these perks.

By choosing a more durable and functional coating option, such as stainless steel or powder coating, range hood owners can ensure better long-term value and protection for their investment.