Painting Plastic - Silver Trim Turning Black

Well I hope your holiday weekend was a good one. Labor Day is always the last blast of the summer here for us. We spent our time at the lake soaking up some sun, and fun. It was a beautiful weekend, and the lake was finally back down to pretty much normal from all the rain we've had here. This year was definitely one for the record books. With the lake being up so far and so murky that the fishing has been terrible, but I did manage to pull a few out this year. I caught two this time down, a 14" and a 15" Bass, not real sure what the weight was on them though, but they were a couple of beauty's.

As I was sitting there on the dock this weekend I couldn't help to think of what I was going to write this week. I started thinking of some jobs that have been somewhat of booger for me, and I couldn't help to think of the fist time I painted silver plastic trim. You know where the paint rubs off or scratches off and leaves you the black plastic underneath.

It was on a Mitsubishi Eclipse door trim. I freaked out, and the reason being is that I mixed all my paints by eye and I remembered with exterior paints how many different shades you got with metallics, a bazillion.... The only shade of metallic I had on board was straight silver, gold, and pearl. Man....I thought how am I going to get this to look right. So off to mixing I went.... By looking at the plastic trim piece, it was silver metallic, but with a brownish gold look to it, and darker then straight silver. I started with silver, added a little brown, then a drop or two of black to darken it, and a little yellow oxide to give it that yellowish gold look.

When mixing metallics, one thing to keep in mind is using the color white, if you need it lighter, then try adding a little pearl white or more silver if you added to much black or if it's to dark. The reason, you will milk it out and lose your metallic look. White is just not good with silver, but there are cases where you will use it, just add a little at a time.

Now with testing metallic paint you can't just dab a little and dry to see if your colors right. Reason being is that the metallic flake in the paint will lay flat and show darker then it really is, what you want is the metallics to stand up and sparkle. So the only way to check your color is to spray it. Spray a little spot, light coats, and see if it disappears against the color your going for, if it does then your there. You can almost see if your ok by just looking at your mixer, but by spraying a little you'll be for sure.

Prepping the area is pretty simple, but there are some do's and don'ts . Most of the plastic trim, I've found, don't have a large amount of dye on them. Now, I call it dye because you use your vinyl dye to paint the plastic, so I'll probably go back and forth calling it dye and paint. Anyways, if you take a scotch brite pad and your prepping solution, ( alcohol, acetone, THP substitute, ammonia, and water ), and spray the plastic trim piece and scrub, most if not all the paint will come off, and at the same time your scuffing the plastic for the dye. You can strip it all off or leave a little depending on the amount of paint missing, the prepping solution works a lot like Sem Sand Free in that it feathers the edge. But if you need your Sem Sand Free then go for it, it works on the smaller stuff just as good ( like just a scratch or something ). Don't use sandpaper with a heavier grit then say 400, or you will leave sanding marks that will show up in your finished product. If you have a scratch thats needing filled or just sanded out, you can use a heavier grit but always finish with a finer grit to remove the marks. Wipe it clean, with a lint free towel so to not get fuzzies in your job.

Once prepped, mask the area off, apply your grip base or sticky primer, then spray. Now with spraying metallic paint, or dye, you always use light coats and don't hold your gun too close or in one spot for too long. You will get what they call modeling your paint. What this is, is a dark shadow in the paint. What causes this is the metallic flakes laying flat and showing you a dark shadow in your paint. So light even coats, and dry between. This will give you the effect you need and make the finished product look like it's supposed to.

Topcoats are another thing too. When your done your work will have either a glossy finish or a mat finish, look around the vehicle to see if you need either or. Always topcoat your work, but make sure you get the right sheen. I've noticed both, so check it out, if you spray it with mat and it's supposed to be glossy it will show and won't match the rest of the vehicle.

That Mitsubishi Eclipse by the way, turned out really good and yours will too with a little practice and know how. I hope I gave you the know how on painting plastic silver, now it's up to you for the practice.

Talk to ya soon - Mike "TIG"