**PAINTING THE PIECES**
We do not have an air compressor and we were not using factory paint for this mod. We did this with Duplicolor paint cans we got from the parts store. First and foremost, follow the directions on the spray can of paint. The temperature and humidity precautions are there for a reason. Don't paint when the temperature drops or when the humidity spikes with a rain storm. Even if you are in a garage, the temps and humidity do effect the final finish of the paint. I have experimented with this and have seen the paint cloud up and the final finish has a matte finish or is a hazy white color. And be careful spraying in the direct sun on a really hot day. The surface of the part can get so hot that the paint dries too fast and you get a dry-spray effect or too much texture due to reduced flow time during the drying process. If you are using gun paint or have a spray booth, then it's a different story. You need to give the paint time to flash (tact up) a bit between coats, but if the can says "paint within x amount of time or wait x amount of time before painting", do it. I have seen paint not stick to itself and fisheye, or even crack and split.
Since we were painting plastic, it is usually recommended that you use something like bulldog paint adhesion promoter as a tie coat. It is specifically designed for painting plastics. Well, the past few times I have tried to use it, I have had massive issues getting it to lay right and even. And then the uneven texture of it passes through to the paint, so I opted to skip it. I hoped the thorough sanding and remaining texture of the part would make up for it. I also opted against a primer. You have to sand primer to tie it to the paint that follows... The sanding would take the high spots off our texture. This would make our texture disappear. Also I did not want to build the paint so thick that it looses its textured character.
As stated above, we decided to match the body color on our interior bezels "redfire metallic". I tried a few paint choices, but none of the paints that should have matched it did. The best choice I could find was Duplicolor's Metal Specks. It had the brilliant metallic that matched the body's metallic so well. It is a mildly transparent red, but it has a point where it won't go any darker. You can actually top just about anything and get the same end effect if you layer it enough. I could have slacked and just used the Duplicolor Metal Specks Red paint alone over the charcoal pieces. But I knew the plastic we were covering was so dark that it would deepen the initial coats of red so much that I would have lay additional coats, making the paint so thick it would cause chipping.
To keep the color more brilliant and true, I opted for a tri-stage paint process used when painting candy colors. Topping my transparent color over a lighter base to pop the color. Plus using a lighter base allowed for less layers. That was the only way to come close to matching the body color. On our calipers, I attempted to simply use a light grey primer. The color never popped like it did over the silver. I started with a very light coat of a metallic silver as my base. I kept the silver as thin as possible. Just enough of a dusting to cover the charcoal.
The parts that were tricky were the armrest bezels and the vents. The trick is to paint the deep recesses of the parts first, then move on to the flat top surfaces. We had to get the deep finger recess first on the armrest bezel and then move outward to the surface of the part. The problem you get into if you start on the outside and go in, is the sheer amount of paint and the over-spray on the surface area. You run the risk of running the surface paint or getting a textured dry-spray. You would rather get the dry spray or run in a recess or crevice. Remember, the overly heavy coating becomes very apparent in candy coats by creating color variances. So again, you would rather have the issue be in a crevice then on the face of the piece.
Here is the radio and climate control bezel with its vents masked off... then you see the shift bezel with the boot and the edges masked off.
Here are the vents with the fins and dial masked off.
Here, you can see where we masked the lower part of the armrest finger pull... I would never recommend this. It does not
turn out well at all. (version 1)
So here were the redo pieces.... (version 2)
Once the silver had flashed, I layered on just enough of the red metal specks until the color matched the body's paint. To be sure all of the parts matched each other, I painted them all at the same time, being sure to spray the same amount of red paint layers. When you layer transparent type paints, each following layer gets darker, so I had to keep an eye on it to make sure we kept it as close to the body's color as possible. Once I was satisfied with the color match and evenness of the parts finish, I let the red flash.
Then it was time to clear. With the clear, you really have to watch out for runs. It's easy to run, because you have no color to judge how fast the paint is building. You need to get enough on to cover the part and provide an even surface finish. The clear is what gives you the slick final shine. Here is where you have to be very careful about dry spray. Again, paint the recesses first, as dry spray is better there then on your top surface.
Now you just have to allow the parts to FULLY dry before you reinstall them. Drying time will depend on the weather/temp conditions. Remember, you will be pushing these pieces back into place. Most are a bit clunky to reinstall, there is a good chance they will knock into something or slip and bang something. All of which can spell disaster for a part that is not FULLY dry. Rushing the install could mean all your hard work for nothing. Worst case.... remember the car is drivable without these pieces!
Here are a few parts after paint before the install...
You can see how the texture remained in our final paint finish. Again, the texture in our part is not a flaw, but intentional. On a slicked part, the very same texture would mean the part was painted badly. (poor prep, dry spray, over spray) However, our texture really adds to the dimension in the metallic paint. You can really see the metallic in these close up shots.
Here is the tape line on the shifter bezel I mentioned earlier. We taped it off at the natural recess on the piece, matching the bezel/dash break in the above radio and climate control bezel.
Once the housings are fully dry, the dash adjustable vent guts can be placed back in the housings. You simply place the vent in evenly side to side within the housing. You put the vent in all the way until it's clip rests on the pin inside. Once both sides are resting evenly on the pins in the housing, you can snap them back in place. The easiest way is to sit the housing on it's back with the vent facing up. You then can push simultaneously on either end, with your fingers on the center of the edge of the vent. Then the vent will snap into place in the housing.