There is another category of rust inhibitor coatings for steel that might be worth exploring for a project like yours. These are formulated with tiny flakes of materials that won’t rust, like mica or stainless steel. When mixed with coatings, the flakes curl oriented primarily parallel to the surface. If you were to thinly slice off a coat of paint and view it crosswise through a microscope, you would see the flakes stacked up as if they were bricks on a wall, Painter said. Burke Industrial Coatings also manufactures epoxy finishes with stainless steel flakes, also known as “liquid stainless steel”. Much like with bricks on a wall, where the mortar joints never line up vertically from row to row, so moisture cannot cascade down the mortar joints, the flakes stainless steel forces anything seeping through the epoxy to take a roundabout path to the steel below. The route can have so many bends that it effectively becomes a dead end, preventing the steel from rusting. And unlike relying on zinc to prevent rust, protection doesn’t wear out unless the paint wears out or falls off.