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In our This vs. That series, we compare two similar products and clearly define what makes them different. Instead of comparing a product, we'll be outlining the differences between two different ways to customize cables: Top Coating and Dyeing.

Some cables are only manufactured in one color, but dyeing or top coating allows you to customize your cables with preferred color. When is a cable dyed instead of top coated, and vice versa? If you’re searching for an answer to this question, you’ve come to the right place. Whether your cable achieves its color through dying or top coating depends on the cable material.


Dyeing is a value-added service provided by both manufacturers and distributors of wire and cable. The dyeing process uses a specially designed machine to feed the wire through a system of pulleys. The jacket absorbs a formulated dye as it passes through a trough filled with the desired color. Excess dye is then removed from the wire by passing through a silicone grommet or wiper. The wire is quickly air-dried and re-spooled for shipping.

Top Coating

Top coating is when a manufacturer or distributor adds another layer to the cable rather than altering the color of the cable itself.

How Do They Compare?

While top-coating is more expensive than dyeing, it is effective on materials that cannot be dyed sufficiently. Most PVC type wires can be dyed without any issues, but irradiated materials, cables with fiberglass sleeving, and nylon can only be top coated. If dyeing is attempted, the color will not soak into the insulation and may even flake off later on. The cable color will also fail to reach the desired vibrancy and brightness of color that you would see if you top coated these materials.

If a cable isn’t carried in the color you need, top coating and dyeing offer a solution. Both services can give you cable in the color of your choice, but the process your cable undergoes will be determined by the cable material.

With Allied Wire and Cable, your cables can be dyed or top coated to your exact specifications. Allied also offers color matching services for dyed wires, using varying shades of standard colors to meet your coloring requirements. Learn more about how Allied can help you with wire identification and value-added services here.