Plasti-Dip is awesome for DIY projects – it leaves a textured finish that looks very OEM, yet it is removable if you ever want to return your car back to stock, perfect for thing such as blacking out your emblems, grille, interior trim or car parts. An added benefit is that it is super durable, even more so then paint in many applications, such it is perfect for parts such as your front grille. As someone that has done quite a few projects with Plasti-Dip spray paint, I thought I’d offer a few tips & suggestions on how to get the best results – this is from a combination of my own personal experience, as well as from others that I have read online. Many of these pointers also apply to using standard spray paint, but with Plasti-Dip they are especially important…since I originally wrote this article in 2011, the world of Plasti-Dip has undergone a revolution. Dip went from something that only a few new about, to one of the more common and mainstream ways to modify your car. Along with this increased popularity has come an ton of innovations in the product itself as the manufacturer saw the potential for a lot of automotive use, and has come out with a ton more colors, finishes, and applicators. No longer are you limited to just a handful of colors in cheap aerosol cans that produce inconsistent results – the latest line of Autoflex coatings rival that of a professional paint job, while the entry-level Plasti-Dip offerings now have tons more finishes geared towards the automotive enthusiast.
Plasti-Dip Application Tips for Spray Cans & Quick DIY Applications (i.e. Emblems, Wheels):
- Consider practicing on something unimportant first, just to get the hang of it. Something like a light switch cover, a piece of scrap wood, or something lying around in your garage.
- Clean whatever part you are coating very thoroughly – Start with soap & water, but then either pre-dip spray or a pre-wax cleanser to remove any oils, wax, etc…like any paint job, spend twice as long prepping it as you did painting it for best results.
- Your first few coats should be very light. You need to establish a base. Start with a very, very light spray over the part, so thin you can still see the original color under it. Wait about 15 minutes then do another light coat, but this time spray thick enough you can’t see the base color anymore.
- In your next few coats start laying it down thicker and thicker. Once you have a solid base built up, you can & should lay it on pretty thick – obviously you don’t want it to run, but you want it on thick enough it looks glossy.
- Use a minimum of 6 coats. If you’ve ever had trouble peeling off Plasti-Dip in the past, you probably didn’t use enough.
- Shake the can a lot, and take breaks while spraying so you don’t get lazy and hold it one spot too long and create drips.
- Don’t try to spray too large of an area at one time – the nozzle will start to clog, resulting in drips and uneven spraying. If you’re going to do a large area, have multiple cans you can switch between so no one can is being used longer than 1-2 minutes.
- Allow 30-40 minutes between coats after your first two coats
- Be sure to spray it from multiple angles to get full coverage – I suggest propping the part up, and then making sure you can walk around it so you can hit it from every angle. If you don’t get full & even coverage, some areas of it make look darker or glossier than other areas.
- The closer you are, the smoother the texture. The further away you hold the can, the more textured it looks. Spray accordingly, but be forewarned that if you spray too far away it will be really annoying to clean…it is recommended to spray 4-5 inches away for the best results when using a spray can.
- Let it dry for several days before trying to wash or clean it – it takes a little longer to fully cure and will be a little sticky or tacky to the touch in the meantime. If possible, I’d wait at least 24-48 hours before installing the part on your car to ensure it doesn’t chip prematurely.
- Keep the can upright when spraying, and be sure to clean out the nozzle by spraying it upside down when done. It is easy for it to clog, which will produce poor results.
- Temperature – like normal spray paint, avoid extreme temperatures such as it being really cold, really humid, or really hot. This will affect drying time and may also prevent it from curing properly.
- Over-spray – now this is the really awesome thing about Plasti-dip – you don’t really have to worry about over-spray that much…if you happen to overspray you should be able to peel it off.
- You can refresh your plasti-dipped items if they start to wear, fade or chip – after about a year my grille needed a few touch ups, so I just cleaned it and re-sprayed it from scratch, starting with a few light coats and then building it up, just like I originally did, and the results were stellar, making it look brand-new again.
- Always buy a few extra cans – since you spray it on pretty thick, you go through it pretty quickly. DipYourCar.com offers kits so you have everything you need to complete your project.
Advanced Dipping Techniques for Whole Car Application or Advanced Finishes:
- Avoid using spray cans – the nozzles get clogged and your hand will get tired, resulting in sloppy and/or uneven application. Invest in a professional sprayer, such as these offered by DYC, and buy the dip by the gallon (it’s cheaper this way, too).
- Consider buying a kit that has everything you need (including the sprayer). Like I mentioned earlier, the more prep work you do, the better the result. This is true with pretty much anything in life, but especially true with any paint or dip applications. There are specialty products meant for pre-dip cleaning, or you can do a normal wash, clay bar, and then use a pre-wax cleanser product like you would as part of a normal paint polishing process. The important thing is to remove any residues, contaminants, etc. so the surface is perfectly clean and nothing will interfere with the dip curing/bonding.
- Consider a basecoat for parts that are going to have a drastic change in color, or are white or neon, to mask the originally color better. This is much like you use primer before painting. A light grey base coat is a good option as a primer/base coat.
- Use a topcoat for a gloss finish, and you can also add pearls to the topcoat if you want a metallic/OEM like finish more similar to paint.
- Disassemble any parts that are complex or will be difficult to get adequate product into all of the cracks and angles. For instance removing things like grilles, headlights/tail lights, etc. will help you get in all of the cracks better.
Plasti-Dip Removal Tips:
Equally as important as applying it, is how to remove it. Personally I haven’t been too successful in this area, but here are the most common ways to remove it:
- Pull it off – if you applied it right, it should peel right off.
- Dip Dissolver – if you applied it too thin, you’ll have trouble peeling it off. DYC creates a product specifically for removing stubborn dip called Dip Dissolver, which can be bought here.
- Pressure washer – another option is blast it off with a pressure washer. Don’t go overboard as you don’t want to damage the paint underneath, but if there are just some small areas that are difficult to reach then a pressure washer on low setting might do the trick.
Uses for Plasti-Dip on Cars:
You can use Plasti-Dip virutally anywhere except areas that get very hot such as the engine bay or around the brakes & wheels.
- Black-out Grilles – a cheap project that can really transform the look of your car…
- Black-out Emblems – de-chrome those ugly badges by spraying them with Plasti-Dip for a more stealth look. You can even do this with the emblem still attached to the car! Check out this thread on G35NYC.com for pointers on this
- Black-out window or chrome trim – much like the emblems, your overspray will peel right off the windows of your car and/or car paint, so you can use this to pretty easily cover your window trim.
- Interior Trim – I’ve seen several people Plasti-Dip interior trim pieces to match their OEM trim – the black textured look matches perfectly with a lot of common interior materials, making it seem as if it came that way from the factory
- Wheels – I’ve seen it done, but I wouldn’t recommend it as it will deteriorate over time. If you’re considering having your wheels powdercoated black, you could try Plasti-Dipping them to see how they look, and if you don’t like it you could always peel or pressure wash off the Plasti-Dip.
- Rear Valence – this one is iffy – the heat from your exhaust may eventually melt off the Plasti-Dip, so it really depends on how much power your car puts out and if you still have catalytic converters or not, but for many applications you’ll be fine.
- The Entire Car – this is a great (and cheaper) option to repainting, or even vinyl-wrapping. It can be done regardless of whether your paint is brand new, or in pretty rough shape. If your paint is particularly faded, watch this video first for specific pointers.
Where to Get it:
Like I said, the really cool part about Plasti-Dip is the finish & texture. Take a look at these pics I took comparing Plasti-Dip to matte black Krylon Fusion spray paint. You can see that the Plasti-Dip is less glossy, more textured, and has a really OEM look and feel to it. Add to that, it’s much more durable! My grille in standard spray paint started chipping within a week, but when coated in Plasti-Dip it lasted months!
For more pictures of completed Plasti-Dip projects, check out the DipYourCar.com Photo Gallery.
You can see the difference in finish is quite noticeable! Here is a close up of the texture compared to regular spray-paint:
A few more pics, just for the full effect:
Got any other tips, pointers or questions this guide is missing? Let me know in the comments!