From time to time we get questions regarding the differences between finishes so we created this page to help you understand the differences.
There are four major types of finishes a bar manufacture will choose to use on a bar.
Black Oxide - This is a process where the bar is immersed into a bath of hot chemicals to "blacken" the bar. Oil is then applied to the hot bar to seal in the oxide. This type of finish will give you the best feel since it is essentially a bare bar with no plating like Zinc or Chrome. Many bar manufactures choose this as their finish because of the enhanced feel, however this type of finish does require regular maintenance. The more humid your gym is, the more often you will have to maintain your bar(s).
Bright Zinc - This process immerses the bar into a zinc bath where the bar becomes coated with zinc. This gives your bar a non-shiny silver color. The benefit is corrosion resistance. The downside is you lose a little feel and it won't hold chalk as well as Black Oxide. This finish is a good compromise for those wanting good corrosion resistance and decent feel. Basic maintenance is still required for this finish.
Black Zinc - This requires two finishes to be applied to the bar. The bar is first given the Bright Zinc bath then given a Black Oxide bath to turn it black. The benefit to doing this is the bar is more corrosive resistant due to the Bright Zinc coating and you get the black oxide look. Basic maintenance is still required for this finish.
Hardened Chrome - This is a common finish some manufactures will use to strengthen their bar and to provide excellent corrosion resistance. A power bar is more likely to be finished with Hardened Chrome vs Black Oxide or Black Zinc. Power lifters don't need to feel as connected to the bar as an Oly lifter does. This process will add a layer of chromium to your bar and will give it a shiny silver color. The benefit of doing this is an increase in bar strength and excellent corrosion resistance. The downside is the bar will feel slippery, it will not hold chalk well, and the plating can chip off. Little to no maintenance is required for this finish.
Maintaining your bar is really easy and only takes a couple minutes per bar. Like caring for your home or vehicle if done properly and on time your bar will last a lifetime.
Here is what you need:
- Plastic bristle brush - You can purchase this from Home Depot, Walmart, Target, or any other place that sells cleaning supplies. You want to use plastic to prevent damage to the knurling and finish.
- Oil - You can use 3-in-1 oil or gun oil.
- Lint Free Towel - This can be purchased from the same place you bought your bristle brush from.
- Use your plastic bristle brush to loosen chalk from knurling.
- Apply oil of choice to your lint free towel. Rub your bar down. More is better.
Repeat the steps above as often as needed. There is no such thing as cleaning too much. If your gym is very humid then you will want to repeat this process often (once per week). If you run the HVAC then once per month or every other month is probably sufficient. The oil will absorb into the bar within 20 minutes of cleaning. You will be left with a clean non-slippery bar.