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  • Painting Headlight pieces

    I got some quotes to paint my headlights and they're pretty outrageous. Most places wanted around $150 a headlight to paint them. Cheapest spot I found was $75 a headlight.

    How hard/big of a PITA is it to paint them yourself? I already have all the chrome stripped from them. I'm just unsure of the best products to use.

    Obviously color matched paint for the main housings and then some 2k clear in a spray can? Do I need adhesion promoter? Do I need to scuff sand the entire housings before priming? What type of primer should I use?

    Also not sure how to go about about painting the main shroud white/black while leaving the inside of it chrome, as I was told if you paint that part it will bubble from the heat. (inside the red circle in the picture) Also not sure how to go about stripping the chrome from that piece as I don't want to ruin the chrome inside the red circle area.

    Green lines would be black and blue lines would be white

    Any good how to's on this? I searched but couldn't find anything.


  • #2
    Originally posted by donnyp View Post
    I got some quotes to paint my headlights and they're pretty outrageous. Most places wanted around $150 a headlight to paint them. Cheapest spot I found was $75 a headlight.
    it all depends on what it's worth to you. 2 colors involves masking off the chrome, spraying, waiting to dry, then masking off again, spraying, waiting to dry, and then if you want to do clearcoat, at least another 1-2 steps of that. for me, that would be roughly a 3-4 day process. i generally don't clear parts that aren't going to be exposed to the elements. but there's no real rule for it..

    Originally posted by donnyp View Post
    How hard/big of a PITA is it to paint them yourself? I already have all the chrome stripped from them. I'm just unsure of the best products to use.
    it's not terrible to do yourself.
    i generally use variations of rustoleum or krylon, only because of local store availability.

    Originally posted by donnyp View Post
    Obviously color matched paint for the main housings and then some 2k clear in a spray can? Do I need adhesion promoter? Do I need to scuff sand the entire housings before priming? What type of primer should I use?
    color matching is a different ballgame, but the same process-- there's plenty of places that sell aresol color match paint, i haven't used anymore than 1 company, and haven't even used that paint for anything yet, but i don't really believe any of them are any better than another..

    as i said earlier, i don't care to clear coat parts that aren't exposed to the elements. i've messed up projects in the past where i'll get the paint 'just' right, and then the clearcoat orange-peels. and then i have to do this.

    https://www.club3g.com/forum/3118649-post22.html


    Originally posted by donnyp View Post
    Also not sure how to go about about painting the main shroud white/black while leaving the inside of it chrome, as I was told if you paint that part it will bubble from the heat.
    most people don't have issues with paint boiling. some occaisional issues, but those have been mostly due to the projector lens acting like a magnifying glass on an ant when the car is placed in a sun, and it's always a point directly below the projector-- the area you intend to leave the oem chrome, so it shouldn't be an issue.

    the main thing to do is to layer the paint. carefully mask off the chrome you want to keep, spray the white first (in any painting project, darker colors are always harder to cover with lighter colors than the other way around), then mask off the area you want to keep white, and spray the black.


    Originally posted by donnyp View Post
    (inside the red circle in the picture) Also not sure how to go about stripping the chrome from that piece as I don't want to ruin the chrome inside the red circle area.
    i probably wouldn't bother trying to strip the chrome. i'd just paint it after a good degreasing. i've tried to systematically strip chrome before, and the tape always lifts, or barely adheres in area's that aren't obvious until it's too late and the chrome is gone.

    just remember not to rub too hard on painted chrome, as the paint can come off, but again, it's inside a protected housing, so it shouldn't be subject to any wear.

    The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time

    Comment


    • #3
      Not a seasoned vet here but I listened to a lot of good advice from this forum and the people here.

      I wouldn't suggest trying to remove only some chrome, if you make any mistakes and remove the chrome you want to keep you can't really put it back.

      Be careful with the chrome you want to keep though. I'm sure every headlight is different but for the few I have worked with the chrome is delicate. Do not use normal tape as it will rip the chrome off with it. Use delicate frog tape, usually yellow and/or post-it notes. Both of those suggestions came from here and worked REALLY well on my chrome.

      As for painting, I have painted very few things but found the headlights surprisingly easy. You can do some test painting on the back to get a feel for what you need to do before going for it on the front.

      I used Tamiya model paint in a spray can, way more expensive then necessary but I only used one little can and it sprayed really well so I was happy with it. Got it from a local hobby store.

      Just do a very light coat to start and then get a bit thicker each time.

      Another tip I picked up, if it's not that warm when spraying, or you want the paint to spray a bit thinner for the light coats, put the spray can in warm water to warm up the paint.

      Comment


      • #4
        something i forgot-- the real 'technique' and 'skill' to painting is in the prep work. get lazy about the prep and the end result will suffer. anyone can shoot paint from a can, there's zero skill to the actual painting part. surface cleaning/cleanliness, and masking work is what really separates the different final products.
        The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time

        Comment


        • #5
          it all depends on what it's worth to you. 2 colors involves masking off the chrome, spraying, waiting to dry, then masking off again, spraying, waiting to dry, and then if you want to do clearcoat, at least another 1-2 steps of that. for me, that would be roughly a 3-4 day process. i generally don't clear parts that aren't going to be exposed to the elements. but there's no real rule for it..
          The shop who painted my bumpers quoted me $75 a headlight, which I guess isn't too bad of a price? The bumpers don't match the best as they didn't have the truck on hand when painting. I just dropped the bumpers off to them, so can't blame them. Meeting with him Monday to look them over.


          it's not terrible to do yourself.
          i generally use variations of rustoleum or krylon, only because of local store availability.
          I think I would use high quality primer, base boat and 2k clear. I dont' want to do all this work and have the paint job look like crap or fail down the line for some reason.



          color matching is a different ballgame, but the same process-- there's plenty of places that sell aresol color match paint, i haven't used anymore than 1 company, and haven't even used that paint for anything yet, but i don't really believe any of them are any better than another..

          as i said earlier, i don't care to clear coat parts that aren't exposed to the elements. i've messed up projects in the past where i'll get the paint 'just' right, and then the clearcoat orange-peels. and then i have to do this.

          https://www.club3g.com/forum/3118649-post22.html
          I will probably just go to my local auto body store here and have them mix me the paint. It's 22 bucks for a spray can of it. I did see on amazon they sell the Mopar color matched paint in 8 oz. cans for 10. Otherwise dupli color perfect match is $15 at local parts stores near me.

          most people don't have issues with paint boiling. some occaisional issues, but those have been mostly due to the projector lens acting like a magnifying glass on an ant when the car is placed in a sun, and it's always a point directly below the projector-- the area you intend to leave the oem chrome, so it shouldn't be an issue.
          I heard many people do that but they use engine enamel? or high heat paint? and 2k clear and have never had a problem, again with proper prepping I'm assuming.

          the main thing to do is to layer the paint. carefully mask off the chrome you want to keep, spray the white first (in any painting project, darker colors are always harder to cover with lighter colors than the other way around), then mask off the area you want to keep white, and spray the black.
          Thanks for the tips here Soundman, appreciate that.

          i probably wouldn't bother trying to strip the chrome. i'd just paint it after a good degreasing. i've tried to systematically strip chrome before, and the tape always lifts, or barely adheres in area's that aren't obvious until it's too late and the chrome is gone.

          just remember not to rub too hard on painted chrome, as the paint can come off, but again, it's inside a protected housing, so it shouldn't be subject to any wear.
          I'll have to make sure to wear rubber gloves when handling it. I guess I can try to strip the chrome around it and if it fails, just strip the whole piece including the inside chrome and just leave it that black color of the plastic underneath?

          Originally posted by bnevets27 View Post
          Not a seasoned vet here but I listened to a lot of good advice from this forum and the people here.

          I wouldn't suggest trying to remove only some chrome, if you make any mistakes and remove the chrome you want to keep you can't really put it back.

          Be careful with the chrome you want to keep though. I'm sure every headlight is different but for the few I have worked with the chrome is delicate. Do not use normal tape as it will rip the chrome off with it. Use delicate frog tape, usually yellow and/or post-it notes. Both of those suggestions came from here and worked REALLY well on my chrome.

          As for painting, I have painted very few things but found the headlights surprisingly easy. You can do some test painting on the back to get a feel for what you need to do before going for it on the front.

          I used Tamiya model paint in a spray can, way more expensive then necessary but I only used one little can and it sprayed really well so I was happy with it. Got it from a local hobby store.

          Just do a very light coat to start and then get a bit thicker each time.

          Another tip I picked up, if it's not that warm when spraying, or you want the paint to spray a bit thinner for the light coats, put the spray can in warm water to warm up the paint.
          Thanks for the tips on the delicate tape, I was trying to find the best kind to use. Also I want something that matches my truck color exactly, so I'll probably just get some color matched paint made in a spray can somewhere.

          Originally posted by soundman98 View Post
          something i forgot-- the real 'technique' and 'skill' to painting is in the prep work. get lazy about the prep and the end result will suffer. anyone can shoot paint from a can, there's zero skill to the actual painting part. surface cleaning/cleanliness, and masking work is what really separates the different final products.
          Any tips for proper prepping?

          Scuff up all the plastic with steel wool or fine sandpaper
          clean
          wax and grease remover
          adhesion promotor
          clean again
          filler primer or etching primer (2 coats?)
          wet sand it down
          clean again
          shoot base coats (2-3 light coats)
          shoot with clear
          finish them off with rubbing compound to get them super smooth and shiny?

          I'm just guessing on these steps and the products I need.




          Comment


          • #6
            I replied to each of yours comments and when I hit post reply it always comes up green and says unapproved. I tried posting like you did soundman and answered each question individually using multiple quotes. Maybe that's why?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by donnyp View Post
              I replied to each of yours comments and when I hit post reply it always comes up green and says unapproved. I tried posting like you did soundman and answered each question individually using multiple quotes. Maybe that's why?
              Its part of a new anti spam feature we added
              Write Something....../

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by xOperator View Post

                Its part of a new anti spam feature we added
                Thanks xoperator. I'm trying to go through now and get rid of all the double and triple posts I have now haha. I apologize for that.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by donnyp View Post
                  Any tips for proper prepping?

                  Scuff up all the plastic with steel wool or fine sandpaper
                  clean
                  wax and grease remover
                  adhesion promotor
                  clean again
                  filler primer or etching primer (2 coats?)
                  wet sand it down
                  clean again
                  shoot base coats (2-3 light coats)
                  shoot with clear
                  finish them off with rubbing compound to get them super smooth and shiny?

                  I'm just guessing on these steps and the products I need.



                  i usually just scrub the pieces down really well with a heavy concentration of dish soap to get rid of most oils and grime. i've never used adhesion promotor in my life, and every time i try to scuff something up, the scuffs always end up showing through the final coat, so i generally don't scuff things up either.

                  The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by soundman98 View Post

                    i usually just scrub the pieces down really well with a heavy concentration of dish soap to get rid of most oils and grime. i've never used adhesion promotor in my life, and every time i try to scuff something up, the scuffs always end up showing through the final coat, so i generally don't scuff things up either.
                    Sounds good! Any good primer you recommend? Any special types for plastic? I hear quite often about etching primer and filler primer. I would assume I would want an etching primer so it sticks to the plastic?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      etching primer is mostly for metal, it contains acids to clean and bond with the metal being primed, so has little benefit with plastics.
                      filler primer is just simply sandable primer-- a slightly different formulation so that it doesn't easily clog sand paper--this is only important if you intend to sand after priming.
                      The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by soundman98 View Post
                        etching primer is mostly for metal, it contains acids to clean and bond with the metal being primed, so has little benefit with plastics.
                        filler primer is just simply sandable primer-- a slightly different formulation so that it doesn't easily clog sand paper--this is only important if you intend to sand after priming.
                        So just regular krylon fusion primer then?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          yep, that's fine
                          The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            as far as primer goes you will be better off with one that is listed as "Bonds to Plastic" or something like that....granted, the other primers will physically stick to the "chrome" but you will need to at the very least scuff it with a scotchbrite pad so it has some tooth......The primers that list specifically for plastics not only bond physically to the surface(the "tooth") but they also bond chemically which is a GOOD THING.....

                            side note.....as far as removing the chrome from the plastic trim i am ALL for that actually....i have had 99% perfect results by using Purple Power (full strength) and a rag(spray on, let soak for about 5min, wipe/rinse off)...the "chrome" just wipes clean and leaves the plastic unaffected....the 1 and only time PP didn't work i used EZ-OFF oven cleaner and it did the trick, but it is a LOT stronger than the PP so i was worried about the plastic underneath but it was fine when i finished....

                            as far as the paint goes, you said that you wanted to factory match.....yes you COULD pick up the Duplicolor from a parts house and it will be close, but it is never EXACT. The only name you need to know in OEM spray paint is www.automotivetouchup.com .....Yes, it is just a little more expensive but it is PERFECT. I have blended bumpers and fenders with their rattle can paint and once finished buffing it out you could not tell that it had ever been touched.

                            as for the clear-coating.....DON'T!!!!!! The problem with clear coat in any application where heat higher than ambient air will be present(ie inside of a sealed headlight housing with one helluva heat source) is that in very short time the clear coat will stop being clear and start to yellow...and i mean within just a few months. Also, when you add a layer of clear over a color base in less than ideal conditions without taking into account the mfg recommended flash times and wet sanding prep and all of that crap you are almost asking for the clear to crack as it is not bonded as strongly as it should be to the base due to the conditions you werent able to satisfy in your garage.

                            at the end of the day though TAKE THE PLUNGE AND DO IT YOURSELF.....even if you mess it up you can always have someone fix it for you after the fact

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