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DIY Painting - Tricks Of The Trade

Helping You Wrench

Scott Tsuneishi
Sep 12, 2012
Impp 1208 01 o+DIY painting+parts Photo 1/9   |   IMPP-120800-411-020-022-1

When it comes to questionable products, nothing beats a can of so-called “OEM” spray paint at the local auto parts store. Although spray paints are somewhat similar in color, they are far from a perfect match. If you’re like us, it’s happened on more than one occasion, yet we continue to search high-and-mighty for matching paint, even resorting to pulling our vehicle’s gas lid to color match with the tops of spray can caps. In the end we decided rather than play the guessing game using over-the-counter paint, we took matters into our own hands and purchased some professionally mixed paint, a compressed air spray bottle, sandpaper, primer, and clearcoat paint. Follow along as we paint our Nissan Cube front grille using this smarter and more affordable approach.

Here’s a close-up of our paint mixed by a professional. Check out how many colors were used to finalize the steel gray color.

Impp 1208 03 o+DIY painting+steel gray Photo 2/9   |   IMPP-120800-411-020-022-1

Our compressed spray bottle was also purchased at the professional paint store. Be sure to ask the shop to mix the proper paint reducers or else the mixture will come out of the spray bottle looking like silly string.

Impp 1208 04 o+DIY painting+compressed spray bottle Photo 3/9   |   DIY Painting - Tricks Of The Trade

1. The first stage of our paint preparation is removing the grille. You can do this by loosening the bolts or unfastening clips that hold the grille in place.

Impp 1208 02 o+DIY painting+nissan cube Photo 4/9   |   DIY Painting - Tricks Of The Trade

2. Begin the preparation process by scuffing up the grille using 1,000- to 1,500-grit sandpaper. Be sure to thoroughly sand the grille, as you do not want the surface to appear shiny in any areas to ensure the primer adheres to the plastic.

Impp 1208 05 o+DIY painting+sanding Photo 5/9   |   DIY Painting - Tricks Of The Trade

3. We recommend using plastic primer, but ordinary body primer is more than sufficient to get the job done. Apply the primer to the surface while leaving 30 minutes in-between coats before applying the final layer. Sand the grille lightly once the primer has dried. This will make the grille’s surface nice and smooth to apply the basecoat.

Impp 1208 06 o+DIY painting+primer Photo 6/9   |   DIY Painting - Tricks Of The Trade

4. Apply the basecoat in two even coats to eliminate any drips or sags.

Impp 1208 07 o+DIY painting+basecoat Photo 7/9   |   DIY Painting - Tricks Of The Trade

5. Once the basecoat has dried, apply a layer of clearcoat paint. Two layers of clearcoat paint will be more than enough to give your grille a nice, shiny appearance.

Impp 1208 08 o+DIY painting+clear coat Photo 8/9   |   DIY Painting - Tricks Of The Trade

6. If there are any indications of orange peels or unevenness in the clearcoat, use 2,000-grit sandpaper to even out the surface. Reinstall the grille and wait at least one month until the paint has fully cured before attempting to wax the grille.

Impp 1208 09 o+DIY painting+grill Photo 9/9   |   DIY Painting - Tricks Of The Trade
By Scott Tsuneishi
247 Articles

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