AJ's Offroad Armor :: Painting How-To

Painting How-To

Painting How-To


Did I mention prep is the key to a good paint job? Prep and primer are the foundation, whatever you put on top of that is really just a matter of cosmetics. You don't need a lot of materials to do a good paint job, just the patience to do the necessary prepwork. The first thing I like to do is go over everything with a degreaser...NOT a detergent type but any kind of solvent such as brake cleaner or paint prep (most auto parts stores have it). Give everything a once over to remove any oils, dirt or other residue.

While bare raw steel is a great surface to accept primer, it's a little slick so it's a good thing to rough things up a little to give it some "tooth" for the primer to stick to. A scotchbrite pad works great for this but you can also use some 120 or greater sandpaper. The goal is to just dull it, remove the shine and give it a haze.Once that is complete go over everything again with your solvent/degreaser, let it dry really good so no solvents are left in any cracks or recesses. Then it's time to prime!

Self etching or metal etching primer is the key, it adheres so much better than any standard primer. Usually can be found at most any chain auto parts stores and only costs a couple bucks more than a regular primer. As with all products, follow the directions and pay close attention to the warnings. DO NOT apply a heavy coat of primer, start with a light mist coat and work your way up. Just follow the directions on the can basically.



Your topcoat is really a matter of personal preference and there is a wide range of colors and finishes to choose from. Everything from the basic black to a textured multi-color. A few notes on each though...

  • For a smooth finish stick with a satin or semi-gloss as it provides the best in durability and ease to clean. A flat paint, while being the toughest, is also difficult to keep clean. When there's a scrape or chip and you touch up, you'll still see where the scrape was made.
  • The textured coatings hold dirt and dust and are very difficult to clean. Often you'll find they don't ever really come clean over time and look dirty. The benefit is when you make a touch up it hides it very well.
  • A hammered finish paint offers the best of both worlds, it's easy to clean and hides any touchups. Some of them can even be applied directly over rust.

People often ask "why not powdercoat?" Well a good quality powdercoating will hold up to a lot of abuse and look great, but still....rocks will scrape it off just the same. Plus to have a good coating done isn't cheap. Unfortunately the coating that comes on a lot of products is mediocre at best and might only last a year or two. Doing touchups on powdercoating isn't as easy as paint either. Either way, do what fits your needs and your budget...most of all...have fun with it!


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