February 13, 2003UP-DATED 8/18/04 Thank you!
I thought that I would post this up for those of you that would like to try painting your parts or have thought about having someone else paint your parts.
Here is my advise:
(1) Don't trust any bodyshop to prepare them for ya like I would because their only intent is to get the job done a.s.a.p and because of that they may not clean, sand and prep them as good as it should, so I will explain ways you can guarentee that what ever paint is sprayed it will stick.
(2) If you spray it your self, the types of spray paint that you can buy over the counter is the one's in the can but remember you will never find paints to match the color coded paints of your car unless you order them on-line or you know a paint shop (Jobber) that will mix to code and sells them in a aerosol application. Even then sometimes you cannot predict by how much pressure the aerosol spray lays out the paint when it hits the surface causing the paint not to flow and gloss especially if it is a solid color. Today most can spray applications have a clear paint that you can spray over the color for more shine and gloss.
You do have 2 choises, try painting it yourself using spray can paints or have a pro paint it for ya using automotive paints. There is 3 draw backs to using aerosol spray paints. A. You can't always find a place to order or mix the paint in that application to your exact color code. B. It will not flow and gloss like automotive paints will. C. It is not as durable and long lasting as automotive paints, some brands are better then others for your particular application.
The most important thing to do before any painting is involved is preparation, and in this case we are talking about any plastic part that is hard and not easily bendable like dash parts, outside mirrors, cowls, fibreglass parts bumpers ect.... Either way you go as far as spray can VS pro automotive paints the preparation is the same and depends on the particulat part and application. Here is what I do.
1. Buy some good mechanics hand soap (The kind with the grit in it) and some double ott #00 steal wool pads, the larger the pad the better. Using a lot of water get the part completly wet and taking the steal wool and dipping it in the hand soap scrubb the part very thoughly and make sure to get every crevise and corner. Rinse well and let dry in the sun, after drying you can see any spots that you may have missed and re-do scrubbing with the materials and let dry again and check. The hand soap and steal wool serves 2 purposes the hand soap washes and get's all grime, oil, dirt & bugs off the parts and rinses well while sanding the surface very fine without damaging or fraying the plastic, and the steal wool does exactly the same assuring fine sanding of the surface. This method works well with OEM textured valances and interior plastic parts.
A lot of our Ford plastic parts that have texture have different charactaristics in the compounds in the plastics where you can sand the texture off with 80 grit sandpaper. For example: Back window surrounds and most of the popular interior parts are a harder plastic like the dash parts, door switch bezels, overhead consoles, interior handles ect..., where the plactic of a lower OEM valance are soft. The harder plastics can be sanded with 80 grit where as the soft plastics will fray this is where you would use the steal wool & soap method only on the soft plastic parts.
If you choose to sand the harder plastics with 80 grit, sand down the texture till flat (Test first a small spot) then sand with 150 and 220 and primer as usual. Let dry overnight and spray a mist of black can spray paint to mist on a check coat. Wet sand with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper using water at all times to rinse off residue and make sanding easier. Sand till all the black check coat sands off but try to be careful not to sand through the primer back down to the plastic as you will have to re-primer that spot. Paint as usual.
NOTE: On interior hard plastic parts you can use the bulldog spraycans of flexable primers but not use the professional version of bulldog on dash parts as per the instructions, the interiors get hot during the summer seasons and the bulldog that is bought at your local paint jobbers do something weird. It is best to just primer your parts after sanding directly with the bulldog mixed with the primer instead of spraying the bulldog straight as directed on the container. The instructions say's to spray 2-3 coats on bare or freshly sanded plastic parts. During extreme heat in the interior of a vehicle the bulldog liquifies and bubbles under the primers causing a extreme mess and lifting of the primer/paint away from the part. I have found out that the professional version of Bulldog works best on exterior parts when sprayed by itself as instructed on urathane bumpers and all urathane parts/aftermarket plastics ect...
On new flat (No texture) urathance bumper, valances and all aftermarket urathane parts you should use 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper using water. Use the same procedures by rinsing and letting it dry to see where you missed spots. In very tight corners you can use the steal wool and handsoap as well.
2. Once you see that every nook and cranny has been scrubbed and sanded, once rinsed and dryed it will look hazy and dull and is ready for primer.
At this stage if you want to paint it yourself you will need a few things that can be bought at Autozone & Pep boys and some automotive paint store's. They have a special flexable primer promotor at $5 a can and depending on how many parts you have you may need 3-4 cans. The same with the primers of the same brand but make sure they say flexable primers for plastic parts. Spray the promotor first as directed let dry 2-3 minutes on the last coat and then it's ready for the primer as it needs to be sprayed wet on wet so dont wait long after the last coat of promotor to start spraying your primer otherwise you will have to sand the surface before applying your first coat of primer. Sweep side to side slightly overlapping the prior coats edge and don't stop in one spot without releasing the spray button for it will build up and run. Anything you don't use you can return for a refund (Unused can).
After your primers are dry (Preferrable over night) If your going to allow the texture on your OEM parts to show through then your need not sand it smooth , purchace a scuff pad (resembles a scouring dish pad) but it's made to scuff paints and primers There is red and grey, I prefer the grey because it sands lighter then the red. After scuffing the surface trying not to scuff through the primer and watch out for the edges otherwise you can sand through and you'd have to re-primer in those spots, wash it down with water to rinse all dust, dirts, hairs, ect... and let dry. Try not to touch the paintable surface with your fingers because you have natural oils on your hands that will ruin your paints and paints have a tendency to separate from an oily spots, they call fish eye's
If you are going for a flat smooth finish with no textures showing through you should spray a check coat first, this is a technique that helps you wetsand your part completely by visually seeing a change. Get a can of any black spray paint and spray a mist layer of paint from 9-15 inches away from your part and spray mist layers all around the primered part till you see thousands of tiny spots on the surface. Let the check coat dry for a few hours in the sun then when it dosen't feel sticky and feels dry Your ready to sand the primered surface, sand with wet/dry 400 grit sand paper using water at all times. You will s