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I'm level 42 and I have a full set of dragon bone armor. Is there a way to increase the armor rating? I'm stuck on I think 80 for my chestplate.

Do you have to also increase the heavy/light armor skill to make it better, not just smithing? If you do have to increase the heavy/light armor skill, will it affect the armor that I have equipped or will I have to make another set for it to affect the armor rating?

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    Hi, and welcome to Arqade! You seem to be asking three questions here. Please limit it to one question, and ask new questions for the other questions. You could probably get by with the first part, but your weapons question is most probably pushing it.
    – LLF
    Jul 23, 2014 at 1:47

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Armor items have a base armor rating (based on the type of armor, eg Steel) that cannot be changed - but you can improve the effective armor rating (i.e. the number that appears on the item when you have it equipped) in a few ways:

  1. Increasing the level of the armor skill relating to that type of armor (eg increased Heavy Armor skill will improve the rating you receive from heavy armor)

  2. Unlocking armor perks in the respective skill tree (the first perk in the tree, i.e. Juggernaut for Heavy Armor or Agile Defender for Light Armor)

  3. Unlocking the unison perk in the respective skill tree (Well Fitted for heavy armor, Custom Fit for light armor) and wearing four pieces of the same armor type to make it work

  4. Improving the item via Smithing - the higher your Smithing skill, the better improved your armor will be, and having a Smithing perk associated to that armor type will also help

  5. There's also a perk you can unlock through a quest which will give you a permanent +25% bonus if wearing Dwarven Armor.

Any of these methods will take effect immediately for armor you're already wearing - you won't need to create a new set to see the benefits, although you may need to unequip and re-equip your armor items before the benefits will be visible.

Bearing all of the above in mind, there is a hard cap of 80% physical damage reduction (567 in full armor without a shield, 542 in full armor with a shield, and 667 if unarmored), beyond which you'll see no additional benefits. The cap is easily reached before maxing out all of the above methods - so, for example, it's possible to achieve the armor cap with Steel armor if you've maxed out all other benefits; you don't necessarily need Dragon Armor to do it.

Source (UESP)

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    567 armor rating when fully dressed, 542 if you are fully dressed and wear a shield, 667 rating if "naked" (clothes like robes and civilian clothes do not give armor benefit by themselves). The cap in percent is 80% damage reduction, and only applies to physical damage.
    – Sharain
    Jul 23, 2014 at 7:52

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