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Guide to Spray Paint your Center Dash Bezel

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Old 28 May 2009, 07:22 am
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Smile Guide to Spray Paint your Center Dash Bezel

Hey Everyone,

This is kind of a tricky subject for me as I will usually try to Vere people away from spray painting Interior Parts as their are many variables which have an effect on the overall outcome. With this said, here is a very detailed step by step write up to try to get you the best results if you choose to take on a painting project on any plastic pieces on your PT.

For this write up, I will take on the center dash Bezel as I get asked about this piece the most.

To start with first, you will need to clean the part by washing it down with soap and water . The water should be hot; but only as you can tolerate it, to help dissolve the water soluble contaminants. In addition, because mold release agents are on all surfaces of the part, it should be washed both inside and out to avoid transferring contaminants later when moving the part. The soap should be a pH-neutral automotive soap to avoid contaminants found in other types of soaps.

Next step is to clean the part with isopropyl alcohol, which will remove any non-water-soluble mold release agents. Once the you done this, the final task is to clean with a wax and grease remover to remove other non-mold release agent which you can find at any Automotive Paint Store, or like most of these Products can also be found online if you are not able to locate a Supplier near you.

Once you are done cleaning, inspect the part to make sure you got everything perfect. If you suspect that the part is not completely clean, the steps should be repeated.

There are two indicators that help you know whether or not a part is completely clean. First, when rinsing the part following cleaning, if the rinse water beads instead of flows over the part, then contaminants remain. Also, after the part has been cleaned and has been dried, you can place a gloved finger on the part and lightly drag it for about six inches. If contaminants remain, a trail from the finger will be noticeable, and the cleaning process should be repeated.

Next you are going to want to prep the surface. To be perfectly honest, their is no easy way to do this. Their is a coating over the plastic on this piece which must come off, and then the entire part must be sanded completely smooth including the inside of the vents so the primer has something to stick to. For the sanding process you will want to use either 800 grit - 1000 grit wet dry sand paper. Anything more aggressive and you run the risk of causing sanding marks which may show up under the paint. The objective is to have a clean, uniform scuffed or dull finish over the entire piece. The more time you spend on this, the better off the final result will be!

After the part has been completely scuffed, it should be rinsed and dried. (Compressed air will speed up the drying process.) The dry surface of the part should have a clean and uniformly dull sheen. If shiny spots remain, the scuffing should be repeated.

After the part has been scuffed, it should be cleaned again with wax and grease remover. This part should then be allowed to completely flash after cleaning and should have a uniformly dull and chalky appearance.

For the next steps, I highly recommend you grab a cardboard box, or something, take a long screw, and mount the part standing up as it would be in your PT. This will be especially important if you will be painting your part Metallic, Pearl, or other types of specialty paints.

Using a spray paint Primer specially formulated for Plastic, you will want to start spraying away from the part, and apply a thin tack coat using a back and forth steady sweeping effect. This is just an initial coat and does not have to cover over the color of the part. Once the tack coat is complete, wait approximately 5 minutes and apply another thin coat. I would recommend repeating this for a good 4-5 coats. It is also a good idea to apply a Flex Agent as this part does Flex and can crack paint over time. This can also be found at an Automotive Paint Store, or online.

Once you are done with the Primer, I recommend letting the part dry for 24 hours. Once it is dry, if you have any imperfections, runs, or splatter from the spray can, you should go back over the part with 1000 grit wet dry sand paper to make sure everything is perfectly smooth, and scuffed. Then go over the piece once more with Wax and Silicon Remover and a clean Tack Cloth, or Cheese Cloth to make sure it is Clean before Paint.

Now, as for Paint, what I like to do, and recommend is to swing by your local Automotive Paint Store. Whatever Color your wanting to paint, weather it is the hard to copy Silver found on some PT Dashes, or any Stock, or Custom Color you want, the Paint Store can match it extremely close using their computer, and then put it in a spray paint can for around $15.00 including any Metallic, or other custom paints. I do not recommend buying the OEM small Spray Cans from Chrysler as your paint on your car changes over time by fading out by sunlight, and several other factors so any Factory Paint is going to be off by quite a bit, especially on darker colors, and most of the time will not be as good of a match. Their are also plastic paints available, but again they will not match your interior, and these types of paint are not a durable automotive type paint, and often will not hold up as good. Another very good thing to remember is wherever you are planning to paint anything at using spray paint, remember that even a slight breeze can carry overspray which can get all over a vehicle parked near by, so be careful where you are painting!

Now, before you get ready to paint your part, here are a couple of steps to get the spray can ready to go. First, you want to thoroughly shake the can to make sure the solvents and pigments in the can are completely mixed, normally shaking for 1-2 minutes should be sufficient. Next, you are going to want to warm the spray can up a little. Do this by simply placing the can in some warm water (NOTE: JUST WARM! NEVER HOT OR THE COMPRESSED CAN COULD EXPLODE)!! By heating the can it helps the paint flow better when spraying since the warm paint has an increased viscosity, It also helps maintain a good constant pressure out of the can as well.

Now, with a clean, prepped, and primed part still mounted upright to a box, or something related so it sits up like it will in your ride, and your paint can shaken, warmed up, and ready to go, it is time to paint.

Just like the Primer, you want to start out away from the part, and make a clean pass with a steady, even, side to side motion. Start off again with a very light tack coat. The Paint does not have to cover on the first pass. Always remember when painting, several thin coats are always better than one or two thick coats! Once the tack coat is finished, wait 5 minutes and apply another thin coat. Repeat for another 4 -8 more thin coats, or more, until you are satisfied with the outcome, and let the part again dry for 24 hours to cure. The reason why it is important to have the part upright when you are painting, especially when painting anything like Metallic is to make sure the metallic sits correctly on the most visible surfaces. If the part is painted while sitting flat, then these visable parts of the piece may not come out right, or look funny.

After the part has cured for 24 hours, if you would like, you can carefully sand the shine off the part using 1500 - 2000 grit wet dry sand paper wetted with water, wipe the part back down with Wax and Silicon Remover, an repeat the painting process with clear coat to add additional shine, and add a clear protective layer over your new finish. The same process applies by starting with a thin tack coat, followed every 5 minutes by each additional coat up to 4-8 paper thin coats in the same steady, even, side to side motion. Then let it cure for 34 hours before handling to avoid geting fingerprints, or damaging fresh paint.

Once everything is dry, carefully sand off the shine until the part is perfectly dull using 1500 - 2000 grit wet dry sand paper once again. This is called Color Sanding, and will help bring out an even glossed, more durable, professional looking finish to your new paint. After your done color sanding, you will want to apply a Fine Cut Compound like Meguiar's, 3M, or any other brand of your choice by hand using a clean, soft Microfiber Rag, and using small light circular motions. Only use Fine Cut Compound for this step! Buff off with another clean Microfiber Rag, and then apply a light coat of Meguiar's, or other brand of Hand Glaze again using small light circular motion, which will polish the surface, and bring back a smooth uniform, durable shine. Again buff off, and then finish up with 1-2 coats of your favorite wax. Always remember to be very gentle when working, and handling fresh paint!

Once you are done, then carefully re-install your part back on your PT, and admire all your hard work.

Weather you apply all of the above steps, or some, if you use this knowledge above, take your time,and do not rush, their is little to no reason why you can not pull off a decent paint job on your plastic center bezel!

I thank you very much for reading my long write up, and I wish you the best of luck should you decide to tackle this project, and if you do, please be sure to post a pic for us here so we can admire your work!

If you have any more questions on this, please feel free to post here, or rop me a line, and I will be more than happy to try to answer as best I can.

Go easy, and I will catch yall later.


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Old 28 May 2009, 07:30 am
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Default Re: Guide to Spray Paint your Center Dash Bezel

Hey Everyone,

Here are a few common problems that may occur with Spray Paint, and how to quickly fix them:

1. Orange Peel:

Cause: Paint is drying before it has a chance to level

Fix: Sand to level the surface of the paint once the paint is thoroughly cured

Solution: Heat the paint (spray cans), Move closer to the subject

Tip: If you move closer or heat the paint, you will be increasing the amount of paint you are laying down so you will need to move over the subject faster

2. Flat or Dull gloss:

Cause: Paint is drying too much before it hits the surface of the subject

Fix: Light wet sand and repaint

Solution: Move closer to the part

Tip: Same as for Orange Peel

3. Sags or Runs

Cause: Paint is too thick or drying too slowly

Fix: Sand with a sanding stick to level the area and repaint the part

Solutions: Heat the paint in the case of rattle cans, move slightly farther from the part, move across the surface faster

Tip: It is easier to add paint than remove, this is often caused from applying too much paint, apply thin layers rather than try to cover everything with one layer.

4. Fisheyes (Dimples):

Cause: Surface contamination

Wet sand the are down to primer

Solution: Always carefully wash surfaces before painting

Tips: Painting is about clean flat surfaces; by thoroughly washing you can prevent things like this.

5. Blobs of Paint

Dirty nozzles or tips and old lumpy paint

Solution: Sand the surface smooth with a sanding stick and repaint the part.

Solution: Always clean paint cans thoroughly after use per the manufacturer's instructions.

Allowing paint time to dry between coats is important, if the solvents don't have enough time to evaporate between coats, the paint will remain soft longer, at worst it may even crack over time because of uneven drying.

When it comes to paints and drying times, it is totally dependant on the paint type, enamels will take at least 7 days to be completely dry, lacquers will take at least 2 days and acrylics at least 4 days. Between mist coats the minimum drying times are; minimum 4 hours for enamels, minimum 20 minutes for lacquers and minimum 1 hour for acrylics. Remember that longer will always be better.

It is mostly recommended to lay down several 'mist' coats before applying a 'wet' coat to allow even build up of paint. Using a primer can help eliminate the need for too many mist coats.

Never expect paint to form a complete cover on the first coat, this is the way to run into any number of problems described, rather build up the paint layers gradually and evenly.

Any defects you notice should be repaired between coats, you should never hope the next layer of paint would cover something up; paint hides nothing once it is dry. The most recommended method to repair paint blemishes is careful wet sanding, before sanding though, you should always allow the paint to dry completely for at least 24 hours.

My best tip when it comes to laying down a good paint job on a model is practice and patience.

Go easy, and good luck!


Check out my Custom PT Club Website:
And my ever growing PT Photo Archives:

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Last edited by Candyman; 28 May 2009 at 07:33 am.
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