This how to is just one of the ways to paint plastic interior pieces to make them look like fiberglass, but the fundamentals of preping,priming, and painting are always the same. The very first thing you need to do is wash and scrub the part thoroughly with a mild soap/degreaser i.e.(dawn dish soap). scrub them really good, this step cleans the panel of armorall type substances and any other contamination that might be on the panel, next dry the panel front and back thoroughly . Now for the sanding part, if you want the panel to have its natural texture then scuff it thoroughly with a grey scrotchbrite and some prepscuff, prepscuff is a paste with grit in it that you wet sand with. Use it with the scotchbrite and start with your edges, sand the backside of your panel about .25" from the edge. then sand the rest of your panel and try to keep your scratches all going in the same direction . If you want your panels to have a smooth surface I.E. the fiberglass look, then start with 80 grit if your doing it by hand,150 grit if your using a d.a. I prefer the d.a. method (much faster,no carpel tunnel in the hands) at this phase you want to get the panel as flat as you can . The panel will have micro hairs all over it dont worry they will prime out. The next step is to sand the panel with a finer grit sand paper ,if you were sanding by hand I would sand with 150,if by d.a. 220 sand very thoroughly over your previous scratches. now your ready to clean the panel again this time using a plastic prep cleaner SEM makes a very nice one .clean the panel using lint free towels wipe very well. the next step is the most crucial, spray the panel with plastic adhesion promoter this step is crucial becuase this is the chenical that binds the primer to the plastic , make sure you follw the direction to a t. now your ready to prime, I used a high build flexible primer. you do not have to use flexible primer but high build is a must. spray the primer on in light coats and dont rush it . If the primer is 7-10 min between coats wait 10 full minutes exactly. Again dont worry about the rough hairs showing through the panel. spray between 3-5 coats your last two should be medium to medium wet coats. DO NOT TRY TO BURY THE PANEL IN PRIMER, it will lift I promise.Let the primer dry for a day or so unless you have u.v lights.Now back to sanding again , this time all the sanding is done by hand using blocks.First spray the panel with guide coat. Use 400 grit with a hard block and wet sand the panel with medium pressure, be careful of your edges and try not to sand through the primer. Sand the guide coat off and make the panel feel smooth thats as far as you want to go. Next move up to 600 grit and wet sand the panel with a soft block the same way a 400. dry panel thoroughly and check for pinholes , scratches and any other blemishes . These can be fixed with flexible polyester putty. now your ready to paint!!!
The first step to painting is using a wax and grease remover to clean the panel. Make sure to wipe it completely dry, now your ready to apply your basecoat. Apply your basecoat in light to medium coats.Start with your edges and then spray the entire length of the panel with a 70-80% overlap. Make sure to wait the entire time between coats.It usually take about 3-4 coats to get proper coverage. you can use a cheesecloth to tack the panel off between coats if desired but make sure that the basecoat is completely dry, Now your ready to clearcoat!!!
Make sure you have proper coverage IE that your color is covering all of the panel. allow the base coat to dry for an hour or so before clearcoating. Now apply the clear coat starting with your edges then across the entire length of the panel with an overlap of about 70% your looking for that wet look, this should only take 2 coats. let your panel dry completely for about a day or so. you can now sand the panel with 1500 grit sandpaper to remove the imperfections from the panel you will have to buff out the scratches with a buffer and a and rubbing compound,if you need furhter instructions on this step feel free to PM me. This will give your ride that custom look ,I will post pics of my 03 dodge ram as soon as i put the interior back together.yOU CAN VIEW THE RESULTS IN THE PHOTO GALLERY UNDER MY 2003 DODGE RAM REG.CAB-A vision without a plan is just a hallucination-