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/-KILLcobalt-/ 06-17-2009 07:06 PM

How to: Paint trim/interior panels!
HOW TO: Paint Interior Trim and other Misc Panels

Hey everyone! I decided to write up a How To on painting your interior pieces! I see threads all the time asking how to do it what to use etc... so I decided to take the liberty to share some knowlage (and sound alittle funny).mabye give some of you the insight to make you want to tackle a bigger more extensive project...GOOD LUCK

Thanks for reading and enjoy




Some things to think about...

Before any painting is done, first you should decide what you want to do. Do you want to redo your entire interior? Do you want to only do your trim panels? What color(s) do you want to use? Two-Tone? Body color match? Do you want the finished product to be smooth? Textured? Matte? Shiny? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself before starting a project like this.


Before any paint project begins you have to prep whatever it is that you are going to work on. Always have clean hands and a clean workspace for maximum satisfaction (HA).Before you begin I would recommend that any pieces you choose to paint be removed from the car. I would not advise painting INSIDE your car at any time mainly due to the hassel of overspray, masking, taping and fumes etc... So follow one of the many how to's to remove whatever piece(s) you want to paint.

Some Things You Will Need
  • Hot/Soapy water (dish soap will be fine or car wash soap)
  • Prep Solvent if applicable (vinly cleaner, wax and grease remover etc..)
  • Grey 3M scuff pad(s) and/or 500-800 grit wet/dry Sandpaper
  • 1000-2000 grit wet sand paper
  • Masking Tape and/or Masking Paper (depends on your project)
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Paint
  • Primer (if necessary)
  • Clear

*note: if you use a scuff pad I would also recommend a "scuff soap" of some sort. Usually can be found online or some local stores (kinda looks like a wierd mud paste heh)but this is not really a MUST.

To Start:

1.Start by removing any thing you dont want to paint i.e. window cranks, door handles etc...(if applicable). Next,(if applicable) very thoroughly wash the piece/panel with prep solvent. I wouldnt recommend SOAKING the panel. Put some solvent on a CLEAN rag/towel (one that you dont mind not using not a dish towel or anything you plan to use later) and wash it into the panel give it alittle scrubbing. I'd say do this a good 2-3 times.

*note* Becareful! Some prep solvents out there can be VERY aggresive always use rubber gloves and most importantly make sure that the prep solvent you use isn't strong enough to melt the plastic! Try alittle dab on the back of the panel if it starts to smear or leave fingerprints STOP IMMEDIATLY! this means the product is to aggressive!

If the prep solvent isnt in your budget or you don't have access to it DONT WORRY ... hot soapy water will do just fine.

2.Next, after you clean off the panel with the prep solvent, it's then time to soap it up. Get your sponge and hot soapy water and wash the part similarly to using the prep solvent. Also do this 2-3 times, then rinse the part with CLEAN water.

3.Now it's time to sand! Some people may tell you it's best to let the sandpaper sit in water 15 minutes before using it... I dont really see a difference. Next sand or scuff the panel until it looks dull. If using the scuff pad and sand soap put a little sand soap on the scuff pad and dip it in water and scrub the panel till its dull. You wont be able to tell if its dull if its wet so dry a spot of that you sanded and see how it looks. It may look kinda white and scratched up that's good!

If using the scuff soap DO NOT LET IT DRY ON THE PANEL this will cause problems! It will be fine as long as it's wet. As soon as your done RINSE THE PART THOROUGHLY. Get all the sand soap off (or sand drip from wet sanding). Then REPEAT STEP 2.

Once this is completed be sure to dry the piece of VERY WELL! If you have access or have an air compressor blow of all the water, all the nooks crannys and even the back of the piece... WATER+PAINT= PROBLEMS! heh if you have to towel dry it then blow dry the remaining water.worst case scenario, let the piece sit out in the sun till it dries

FOR TRIM PANEL PIECES: I'd recommend doing the wash prep then sand the pieces with 1000 grit sandpaper. Try not to sand ALL the way throught the stock paint (paint sticks better to paint) if you sand through no big deal just try not to. Depending on what type of paint your using (i.e. Spray paint, automotive paint etc..) id say for spray painting if you dont have access to an adhesion promoter specific to your paint (in my case i used DuPont Automotive Paint, i used DuPont 222 Mid coat adhesion promoter on my trim pieces then just painted over it...) but if you dont have an adhesion promoter id recommed using a primer. 2 coats of primer should be PLENTY wait 5 -15 minutes in between coats if its dull then go to the next coat... let the primer sit for about 30 minutes or so before sanding the primer. sand with 600-800 grit wet sandpaper till its smooth and dull no orange peel..if you sand through the primer, re-apply primer and re-sand. once sanded re wash and dry.

Paint Application

First you have to choose whether you want to use spray paint or automotive paint or whatever you want to use. If you choose spray paint, I would recommend something with a FAN spray tip not the round spray kind (if you can) it just helps with even coverage and easier to spray in my opinion. Some people i've seen have been partial to the KRYLON FUSION paint for plastics, this is fine if that is your route, i've never used the stuff personally but if it works it works I dont know how durable it is.. On my Interior pieces, the green trim pieces I used DuPont Automotive Paint, The Black I used SEM COLOR COAT Spray Paint (Color = SATIN BLACK #15243), the white I used SEM COLOR COAT as well (Color = White #15313) SEM makes Great Products. They also have a SAND FREE ADHESION PROMOTER that works well with the COLOR COAT system. Make sure you double check the color if it says something like BLACK GLOSS or RED GLOSS etc... its going to come out shiny without clear... id say picking a normal color then adding clear usually works better.

(see SEM Products - Home Site)

Now that you have decided what paint to use ill just go and tell you the spray can route cause if your using automotive paint for cars... you probably already know what your doing heh

1.Shake the can VERY WELL for a good 2-3 minutes!!! yea it seems long but well worth it!!

If you primed your part skip to step 3 if you use an adhesion promoter use step 2

2.If using the SEM SAND FREE like i did on my Glove box and Under Steering wheel panel. Shake as well and spray a medium wet coat on the part spray about 6-12 inches away (depending on how fast or slow you move) if its to dry move closer and/or slow down if its to wet back off and/or speed up ... use your judgement...SEM says if using SAND FREE spray a light coat of your color coat while the SAND FREE is still wet so it sinks in nice... If your not using these products SKIP THIS STEP!

3 If you had primed your part this is your next step and forget step two. Spray your paint about 6-8 inches from the part (depending on how fast or slow you move) if its to dry move closer and/or slow down if its to wet back off and/or speed up ... use your judgement. you want to apply a medium wet coat of paint. too wet and not only will it take a while to dry but may run. id recommend spraying past the part and letting go of the trigger then back and so on... if you just hold the trigger you can build up the paint in an unwanted area and may be to wet or not be even. id say use a 50% overlap like when you cut grass hah. For larger parts re-shake the can alittle if spraying longer than a minute at a time. wait about 15-20 minutes between coats. Id say apply paint till it looks covered then add one more! heh I dont think youll need anything more than 4 coats. *note* if your going from the light grey to a dark color it will be much easier to cover... if going from black to a light color it will be much harder and take more paint ... use your judgement!

*also consider the color your using..for example Reds tend to bleed its a very transparent color so it takes more red to cover than say a black.

if along the lines you have a problem such as a run or dirt in your paint feel free to take some time to sand it out! You can nib out dirt specks with 1000 grit or if you get a run sand with 500-800 grit with a block (just ensures its ALL OUT) but make sure the paint is dry enough to sand first! and then re apply paint. On textured parts you dont really have to worry about dirt heh

once paint is completed depending on your preferance you can move on to clear/matted clear or stop...

my interior pieces with the exception of my green trim pieces are all matte I applied no clear cause I used a "vinyl" paint. its flexible and durable

but if youd like proceed to the next step! CLEAR!


This is the most important part of the process (other than the prep) despite what people may say.. clearing isnt easy... You may want to do a test spray just to get the feel first...Also if you didnt use a fan spray for color THIS IS ONE PLACE YOU ABSOLUTLY SHOULD!

you do not have to sand your base color before clear Unless its been more than 8 hours since you based your part.

***SHAKE WELL!!!!!!!!***

When applying the clear coat, generally you want to be closer than when you sprayed color but since spray cans are unpredictable be safe and stay back about the same distance! This time you want to use a 75% overlap to ensure coverage and proper shine...

You want to apply a FULL WET COAT ... but be careful!! to wet you get runs to dry it will look rough and not shine right! you dont want the clear to "pool up" you want it to flow out nicly!
Be sure to watch how the clear goes on as you are spraying and adjust accordingly!

2-3 coats will be plenty of want to wait anywhere between 5-15 minutes between coats depending on temperature and the type of clear... some clears set up fast some take a while. the way to find out is basically to touch it... DONT TOUCH THE PIECE touch a spot you sprayed past onto paper or something unnoticeable if the clear feels wet and slippery its TO WET to add more clear it will run! The good rule of thumb is this..."STICKY BUT NOT STRINGY". you want to be able to touch the clear and it just be sticky .., if you touch it and it pulls up little strings of the clear its still to wet... but means its drying! keep checking till your not pulling up strings anymore...then add more clear... if you wait too long and the clear dries fully to the touch then you have to sand and re clear or else the clear wont stick!! IT WILL PEEL!

*note* when applying a Matted Clear coat apply the exact same way! it will look shiny as you spray it on wet but as it dries it dulls down to a dull finish!

TAKE YOUR TIME AND DO NOT RUSH IT! i cant stress it enough! once you start rushing you run into problems!

after your clear sets up for a day or so feel free to wet sand with 2000 to get out dirt specks and smooth out finish go over it with a rubbing compound and buff it back to shine!

its always recommended that you do not use wax or surface cleaners such as armor all and similar products on painted surfaces for a minimum of 3 months! if done properly you wont have to at all!! haha...

I wish you all the best of luck!! Feel free to PM me questions or post on here i check frequently and will do my best to answer your questions the best i can! send me pictures of your progress and eve your problems! love to help!

im sure i forgot something in here haha but overall i think this is a good little how to, which should put you in the right direction!

OBZ 06-17-2009 07:13 PM

Amazing wright up! Great job man! This should finally cut down on the "how do i paint" threads!

Thanks for taking the time to do this!

/-KILLcobalt-/ 06-17-2009 08:37 PM

ha thanks... it took me a few hours to get it right haha... i just wanted to settle it once and for all .. heh of course there will be questions but ill keep answering haha...

anytime man... hope everyone likes it!!

OBZ 06-17-2009 08:46 PM

You know.. This is such a commonly asked question..


xyankees214x 06-17-2009 10:08 PM

:)Great write up, thanks for taking the time to do this. This is a cheap and inexpensive mod that everyone should do, and now theirs a perfect how to for it! :)

I actually just got my painted today, flat black. My neighbor owns an auto body shop and hes the shops head painter. He said the trim pieces for the door were the biggest ***** ever. He could not get the paint to stick. he had to wash em and sand em like 15 times to finally get it. He said it was most likly from all the oil from the hands touching it so much. Idn i didnt paint em but did you run into this kind of problem? I would think like rubbing alcohol would take care of that?

/-KILLcobalt-/ 06-18-2009 03:31 AM

your right thanks for the sticky!

the trim pieces i didnt have a problem with ... i had more problems with the textured pieces like the glove box and under steering wheel panel...mainly cause of the type of plastic it is and the texture... you HAVE to use some sort of adhesion promoter or primer... something to ensure its going to stick... i had to redo my understeering panel a few times before i got it right!! oils from your hands are a cause for concern thats why i said use gloves but yes its easy removed with the prep solvent. i never used rubbing alcohol but i guess it wouldnt hurt to try!

thanks for checking out my how to!

SHADWFX 06-18-2009 10:23 AM

hey there killcobalt, this is an awesome write-up - major props for detailing all of this!

i do have some questions if i may:

1) "adhesion promoter specific to your paint"

can you give more info about what you mean about specific adhesions being made for specific paint?
also, what is the difference, and are there pros and cons between using adhesion vs. primer?

2) how long do you wait/what to look for with the texture of the paint before you know it's ready for the
clear coat? does the 'sticky but not stringy' apply for this as well?

3) just to be sure, you did NOT apply a clear matte finish to your other pieces other than the green?

4) what rubbing compounds do you recommend for interior paint like this?

yeah didn't mean to ask so many :push: but it's very much appreciated for any answers! thanks again.

TwistedBalt 06-18-2009 11:04 AM

Great Post man. Blew mine out of the water haha. Looks great. My post was mainly for getting rid of the texture of the panels :). I'm about to tackle the same parts that you did. Yours looks great

/-KILLcobalt-/ 06-18-2009 04:42 PM

ok ill start with SHADOWs questions...

what i mean is like when i did my green trim pieces i used DuPont Automotive paint, their adhesion promoter for primed or painted materials is 222 mid coat adhesion promoter. now when i did my white and black interior pieces i used SEM COLOR COAT aerosol paint they recommend you use their SAND FREE adhesion promoter... all companies are different... to be honest it MAY not matter if you use lets say a DuPont adhesion promoter on SEM paint but i feel its best to keep it in the same company just so theres not guess work ... i know you DEFINATLY shouldnt mix paint companies when it comes to professional paint but when your doing 2 stage paint system with spray paint.. shouldnt matter...

there are pros and cons to adhesion promoter vs primer... some of which may not matter in some situations... primer is mainly used one to cover scratches, body work , metal, plastic etc... sure if you have a plastic piece that isnt damaged primer will do fine for an "adhesion promoter" the con is, you have to sand the primer... in most cases may come out smoother using primer (of course not on textured plastics) using adhesion promoter SOMETIMES lets you skip the primer step and go right to paint. most adhesion promoters(at least the ones ive used) "lay out" flat so when you spray it on you almost dont know that you did...its basically a clear solvent that helps etch the paint to the part. i always use adhesion promoter just to cover my tracks to make sure theres not a chance something may happen you know? but likewise... adhesion promoter needs no sanding before you go to paint (by that i mean sand the part spray Adhesion promoter then paint)

with clear sticky but not stringy most always applies unless directed otherwise... another way to check (with matted clears) is when it starts to dull down... when its about 3/4 of the way dull go for another maybe even 1/2 way... again depends on the temp its something you just got to experiment with all products are different as far as how they dry and lay out but the process and application is basically the same.

i DID NOT put matte clear on my green trim, i used a normal automotive DuPont Clear. 2 coats. i actually didnt even polish my trim panels any they just came out that clean.. but i may in the future remove them sand them down with like 2000 and re clear another 2-3 coats then polish for a NICEEE shine...

with any paint products im a BIG FAN of any and all 3M products i have yet to find one i didnt like... 3M makes all kinds of rubbing compounds... id say it all depends on your application... i wouldnt use ULTRA CUT just cause its aggressive for someone who hasnt used it before... but any normal 3M rubbing compound will do the trick with some nice hand glaze to finish it off... BEWARE though... the finer the sand paper the better ist MUCH easier to remove say 3000 grit scratches than 1500 it will take a long time and alot of muscle unless your handy with a buffer... i hope i answered your questions good enough and its no problem i just want to help! if you got another set send em over ill answer them too!

TwistedBalt ... thanks for checking this out! i was nervous you would think i was bashing you or something... i just wanted to clarify what you had said but in your case you were right to sand with an agressive paper to remove the texture... my appologies for any offense! thanks for checking out my interior glad to hear you like it!

i wish i had updated pics of my interior i did more but dont have them installed or pics of them... half my car is in pieces ... waiting to do my headliner door panels and rear deck!

thanks again all!! keep the questions coming!

SHADWFX 06-18-2009 06:25 PM

thanks for answering all of my questions so quickly and all - i believe i'll be good in the question department for awhile now concerning this, heh. again, brilliant write-up.

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