The below is a step-by-step for those individuals looking to Plasti-dipping a jeep grille or any other automotive part for that matter.
What you’ll need:
- 1 can of Plasti dip (colour of your choice)
- Painters tape
- Lots of newspaper
- A very sharp exacto knife or hobby knife
- some music / timer – something to let you know 5-10 minutes have gone by (will explain below)
- Beer or some other form of relaxing, time passing beverage (I still vote beer)
Optional: Clay bar (I used this to get rid of some overspray that my cousin managed to get on the fender from misjudging how much he had to cover off.) If you don’t have a clay bar you can probably pick the stuff off with your fingers- I personally wouldn’t waste $20 on a clay bar just to be used as in “in case” scenario for this, but if you or someone you know has one from detailing your car once a year, grab it and keep it handy! It definitely makes things easier.
Ok let’s get started.
I’ll start this off by saying anyone is capable of doing this, my cousin who has zero experience working on cars or being handy in general, did the below with strictly the verbal guidance I provided him (which you can read / see below)
It is optional if you want to take off the headlights and bezels, or the plastic sway bar cover. We opted to, and if you take a look at those pieces, the bolts are present and in the open and very self explanatory to remove.
Step 1) We need to protect everything that we don’t want to cover in Plasti dip. Unfortunately I had him spray 1-2 coats before I even remember to snap a picture, so forget the little bit of Plasti dip that is present! What you need to do is take your newspaper or other protective pieces and cover all around the edges of the grille. Think about what you are spraying, take the headlights out, but don’t tape off the edges of the headlights as you want the Plasti dip to get right to the edge so you don’t see red spots later. Tape off all the fenders and anything that can be sprayed. We left the fog lights uncovered since we weren’t going to spray from that far away. We also put a little piece of cardboard to protect that little mount area in between the fender and the bumper. This is optional, we chose that we didn’t want to paint it.
Be very, very careful with your taping, this should consume the most of your time in this project- very similar to our scratch repair guide you want to make sure you very carefully tape right to the edges of what you intend to paint. Attention to detail is what will make your project look a step above everyone else. Notice that beside the headlights there are parts of the grille that have little notch marks in them (the two notches if you look to the left of the below picture) take your time and rip off little pieces of painters tape to cover these sections, it really does make the grille look like it was done professional when you take that extra 5 minutes and effort.
***Make sure you don’t forget to get newspaper in front of your radiator and behind the grille as well, or you risk clogging your radiator with Plasti dip, and it will look terrible. It is hard to see the paper in the below picture, but it is there.
When you are done taping and quarantining off all the areas you don’t want to paint, your jeep will likely look similar to the below picture (minus the coats of Plasti dip!!)
Step 2) Use rubbing alcohol and clean (even though you may have already washed the jeep prior to this) the entire area that you intend to paint with plastidip. You want to make sure that the surface will adhere the plastidip properly and not flake off on your later down the road.
Step 3) There is a method to painting the grille with Plasti dip or any other kind of paint really, so that you do not see the imperfections of the hard to reach areas. In the picture below you will see a series of red arrows. What I am showing you is the difficult to paint / Plasti dip areas – they’re easy to see, but paint and Plasti dip doesn’t like to go to those areas unless you force it there. So, taking that into account, start each and every single Plasti dip coating by doing those areas first.
So, do quick sweeps with the Plasti dip can on those upper and lower curves of the grille (where the arrows are in the picture below) first, then do the inside long sides of the grille second (short left and right pointing arrows) then do the areas beside the headlight because this is not a front facing piece, and finally spray the circled area from both the top and bottom vantage points – whichever way you find it easiest to manipulate yourself to get in there.
***I want to note that when you spray Plasti dip on the grille, start off by depressing the can when it is facing your newspaper and not while it is directly pointed at the grille, then once it has started spraying move in a smooth sweeping motion from left to right starting from the top of the grille and trying not to overlap your last sweep across. I would recommend that when you make a sweep from left to right, you stop the spraying and then proceed to start the spraying again for the next sweep across.
By not starting the spray directly on the grille, you will eliminate any dripping or pooling / blobbing of too much Plasti dip in the spot you started to spray at because it comes out as a burst at the start.
You should apply light coats very evenly across the grille. Don’t worry if you have red still showing, it will slowly go away. The below picture is after about 3 coats of Plasti dip. Each time you spray, you’ll get more area covered, don’t worry about covering it in the first few coats.
Step 4) You want to wait a few minutes in between each coat (which is why I said have some tunes ready to go along with your beer. We waited about 1.5 songs or I guess approximately 5-6 minutes in between coats.
Make sure you continue to pay attention and spray the arrow marked areas above first, every single coat! You will want to look closely with your eye to try and target any light spots that have your original paint colour showing through still the more you go on. Don’t wait until you are at the end of the can to realize you’re not hitting a certain area.
We used an entire can for the front Grille and it came out like this when we finally finished (picture below).
***Take note of a couple of things before you rip off your painters tape and newspaper in excitement
- Let your jeep sit for about an hour, then get your sharp knife and just lightly run it along the outter most edges of your tape closest to the new Plasti dip surface. If you don’t, you’ll have part of your Plasti dip paint that sprayed over the tape begin to peel off with your tape. Don’t press too hard with the knife, you don’t want to cut into and scratch your cars paint underneath…you just want enough pressure to score/slice it. You’ll know if you did enough as you begin to CAREFULLY lift the tape off.
- Notice in the below picture the overspray on the passenger side fender? My cousin initially didn’t tape / newspaper off enough area to allow him to properly spray the grille. Since I didn’t catch this until after a few coats (I was busy working on my car) We didn’t get the paper down until about the 3rd coat of Plasti dip. If you have this, don’t worry, it is light enough that we can either take it off by rubbing your fingers over it using a little bit of muscle, or, if you have that optional clay bar I mentioned earlier, take it and lightly rub it on the overspray and it will slide right off.*** Do be very careful about not touching the painted area when using the clay bar around the finished grille, it will pull the “good” Plasti dip right off of the grille. If you have hard to reach areas with over spray (you weren’t following my instructions!) then wait a day for the grille to fully dry, and then get a damp cloth and carefully get your finger in there to rub it off.
- Begin slowly / carefully installing your trim pieces you removed back in along with anything else such as the headlights and plastic sway bar cover.
- The Light bezels you took off (if you took them off like we did) only go on one way. Make sure that you line up the bolt holes visually before you stuff it back in there or it will jam on you and you will damage the Plasti dip as you fight to remove it.
*** side note: the turn signals are removed here because we decided we would Plasti dip smoke them at the same time.
Step 5) Step back and Marvel at what you just accomplished. It looks damn good, especially for someone with no experience doing a project like this- go and crack open another cold one. Don’t get overly excited and go washing your car right after either, let the Plasti dip dry for 5-7 days before you go washing it (my recommendation).
The below picture is the final product and it has held up quite well in the bush, on the highway on long 6 hour road trips, and through the car wash when it got covered in mud from a few off-road adventures.
Enjoy your new look!
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