Painting Your Dashboard/Center Console
Warning: If you are inexperienced with painting - before doing anything at all - check the price of these parts from your local dealership in the event you "mess-up" and want to buy new parts Choosing Your Products:
There are two types of paint you will be using depending on which types of surfaces you want paint. Vinyl paint works best when used on soft plastic surfaces (such as your dash and interior trim). Lacquer paint works best when used on hard plastic surfaces (such as your center console and gauge bezel). If you plan to paint your interior panels, then use a non-glossy or mat finish (do not use a glossy finish) in order to match the existing finish of the existing interior panels. The following companies make some of the best interior paints and dyes available today:
- LSR Vinyl Dye and Vinyl Lacquer
- LSR Gray Primer/Sealer - filling minor abrasions/promoting adhesion on hard plastic
- Krylon Lacquer Spray - for hard vinyl
- Dupli-Color makes a wide range of colors and paint effects for the following:
- Vinyl and Fabric dyes
- Adhesion Promoters
- Clear Coats
As there are so many choices as to how to paint or finish your interior trim pieces, decide how you want the completed product to look. Some choose to leave the textured finish, and some like the completely glassy smooth finish on these parts. Once you decide which parts and colors you would like, head on off to your favorite auto parts and hardware stores for the following products:
Prepping Your Parts:
- 400-Grit or Finer Wet Sanding Paper (for smooth trim pieces)
- #000 Steel Wool (for smooth trim pieces)
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Painter's Tape and News Paper
- A Razor Blade or Sharp Knife (used for painting the trim ring of the shifter bezel)
- A Good Grease-cutting Dish Soap (Dawn)
- Scrub Brush
- Appropriate Paint Products
The most important process in painting interior parts is the preparation. First examine your parts for damage. If you find any damage on your interior panel pieces, such as gouges, scratches, or any other type of surface imperfections, you will want to sand down any high spots with the 400-grit sandpaper. Only sand the high spots down and not the entire area that is marred. For interior trim pieces, do the same, but if you will be sanding down the entire piece for a smooth finish, use the steel wool as well.
If you want your interior trim pieces to be smooth and have a completely glossy finish, you will need to sand your parts. Skip this step and move on to cleaning your parts if you will be going with a textured finish. If not, then use 400-grit sandpaper to sand your pieces smooth. After you achieve a fairly smooth finish, move on to sanding with the #000 steel wool. Continue sanding until your parts are as smooth as you would like.
Remember that if you sand your parts, that after cleaning them, you will want to use an adhesion promoter/primer to help the paint stick to your parts and prevent cracking or peeling.
Next, you will need to clean your parts thoroughly. Start with a good warm soap and water mixture. A good grease-cutting dish soap such as Dawn is a perfect product for washing parts. Use a scrub brush and scrub the pieces down. Rinse the pieces with water, and repeat the process. If there are still areas that are dirty such as crevices, use a toothbrush to get the dirt out. Wipe the parts down and let them dry completely.
The last step in cleaning is to use a rag and Isopropyl Alcohol to remove any last traces of dirt and grease. Let parts dry again. If you still have dirty or greasy parts, then use a good specialized cleaning product such as Dupli-Colors Prep Wipe or Grease & Wax Remover.
To fill in any low spots due to imperfections, use LSR Gray Primer/Sealer to fill in minor abrasions and to promote adhesion on hard plastics. For soft vinyl rips and tears, you will have to search for a vinyl repair kit or replace the part all together.Painting Your Parts:
Now you get to paint your parts! This is your last chance to ensure that your parts preparation has been thorough. For any parts that you sanded, or any hard vinyl panels whether sanded or not, use an adhesion promoter/primer first for insurance. For parts that wont be entirely painted, you will want to use the painters tape and newspaper to mask off the areas not being painted. If you are going to go with two-toned interior panels, you will want to make sure that the back sides of any openings are taped and covered with newspaper to prevent paint over spray from finding its way to the fronts of the panels.
Best results are achieved when spraying many light coats rather than just a few heavy coats. When dying vinyl, it is best to have at least three coats for good color coverage. For trim pieces, no less than three coats are desired. Some color kits require more coats, or multiple color coats of different sprays. Follow each of the manufacturers instructions for these types of products.
Make sure that you are painting in a relatively dust-free environment. When spraying your parts, always follow the manufacturers instructions. Generally, you want to paint your parts with multiple light coats of paint. Always use smooth even strokes when spraying the parts. Try to keep the spray nozzle perpendicular to the pieces being sprayed. Most applications to the trim pieces will require several coats to be applied, and that each coat not be completely dry, but rather tacky, when applying the next coat of paint. This helps the bonding of each coat of paint to the previous one. Read the instructions!
If you get a drip or run, or the paint crackles from applying too much paint, you can wet sand it lightly once it dries completely, then remove the dust and grit, and apply a few light coats of paint over the spot again to correct it.
To complete your painting process, finish the trim pieces with a durable clear-coat finish. If your product requires that the color coat be completely dry, after the parts dry, wipe down the parts to remove any dust that may have settled. Do NOT clear coat interior panels! It is best to let the painted parts sit for 24 hours before attempting to re-install them so as not to damage the paint.DO NOT "TOUCH" TO SEE IF PAINT IS DRY
- possibly the worst mistake you will ever make in this project
This above was professionally done. The average price to get it done professionally would be about $70 ~ $90. Tat price includes BOTH center console pieces, and the Hood
around the gauges. If doing this, I would suggest that you also think about painting the panels to your electric-Mirror
and the tweeter covers
NOTE: By getting everything painted professionally, you wont have to worry about scratches or paint melting.
Somethings to think about when painting your dash, if you or the shop that does the painting are not careful - you will loose all the details of your climate control. Possibly worse, the lights may hardly shine though.
The solution to this is to paint with or ask the painter to use a clear paint. For blue, Try 2 cans of TESTORS Brand
"Blue Berry" (red is named "Candy Apple", Black-TINT is name "Smoke") for about $4 each at any local hobby shop and a LARGE CAN of clear acrylic paint (Clear Coat). After, add a few layers of clear coat with 15 minutes dry-time between each layer.
The following can be found at most hobby shops for around $4 (WITHOUT shipping charges)
Transparent Black (WINDOW TINT
Transparent Candy Apple (RED
) - also used for red-out tailshttp://www.testors.com/catalog_item.asp?itemNbr=1405
Transparent Hot Rod Red (DARKER SHADE OF RED
Transparent Candy Lime (GREEN
Transparent Blueberry (BLUE
Transparent Candy Grape (PURPLE
)http://www.testors.com/catalog_item.asp?itemNbr=1407ALL OF THE SPRAY COLORS...http://www.testors.com/catalog_browse.asp?ictNbr=36
Using a clear color, you can see through to the climate controls easily - Testors Transparent Candy Apple was used on the above dash.
An Alternative would be to just mask-off the areas that you do not want painted...
- Detailed center console removal instructions can be found in another guide titled, "Center Console - How To Remove (Long/Detailed)"
- To remove the side-mirror control, carefully pry up the plastic plate with a flat-head screw driver and you will see that the electronics/buttons are attached to it. Once you've done that, look at the underside and everything will make sense of how to separate the pieces for painting.