How to Paint Your Car with Bedliner
This do it yourself guide to painting your car with bedliner such as Raptor Liner is intended to be a guideline for your project. This guide is based on my personal experiences, so you may discover a better way or have a different experience than I did. This guide is my no means an all inclusive resource, so use your common sense when painting your own car, truck, van, boat, or whatever with bedliner.
The Do – It – Yourself Guide to Painting Your Car With Bedliner:
1. Get your supplies together
2. Set some time aside
3. Make sure the conditions are right
4. Prep the vehicle thoroughly
5. Apply the bedliner paint job
6. Let the bedliner cure
7. Mistakes to Avoid!
Get Your Supplies Together
This step is very important, considering you don’t want to get half way through your bed liner paint job and have to stop to get supplies. Every bedliner paint job is a little different, so take the time to think things through and make a good list of things you’ll need. Plan ahead, even if it takes a few weeks to get everything together.
Here is a list of some supplies you will probably need
Be sure you get enough material to paint your whole car with bedliner. Get a little more than you think you’ll need to cover yourself. If you are 90% done and run out, you may end up with a splotchy or inconsistent finish. As you know, I recommend The Dupli-color Bedliner as a roll-on, or Raptor Liner if you’ll be spraying it on. Don’t forget the rollers! You will need several of them, along with at least one painting tray. That’s one reason I think the roll-on bedliner kit on Amazon is a good deal.
You will want to mask off anything you don’t want covered in bedliner. You might also want to tape off the surrounding areas (using a drop cloth) just to be sure you don’t make a mess. Be sure to use painter’s tape so it will come up easily and not leave a super sticky residue. You can get blue painter’s tape pretty cheap at Harbor Freight.
Paper or drop cloths
Personally, I like the plastic sheeting you can get at the hardware store to cover large areas. On the other hand, you can usually find some newspapers for free and they work great too. Either way, you will need plenty of it so stock up.
When you paint your car with bedliner, you will want to clean and prep the surfaces really well to make sure the bed liner sticks to the surface. Soap and water is a good start, but you may also want to use a good de-greaser on the surface as well. A final wipe with paint thinner or acetone will really help the bedliner adhere as well. Even though it’s a bedliner paint job and not a high dollar affair, you still want to prep the surface as good as you can for a great final result.
Primer, paint, and spray on bedliner
These things are good to have on hand when painting your car with bedliner for many reasons. If you have any bare metal, it’s a great idea to spray a little primer on it before coating it it bedliner. This helps the material stick better. I like to use flat or semi-gloss black paint to spray any areas that I can’t use the bedliner on. This might include wheel wells, trim pieces, emblems, wheels or whatever. Alternatively, you can use an aerosol spray-on bedliner to coat these smaller areas and get in the cracks and crevices. If you choose only one thing, I would go with flat black spray paint. It can serve as a primer and also coat the areas that you can’t get to with the bedliner. Just keep in mind it won’t last that long if exposed to the elements.
Set Some Time Aside
It will probably take longer than you think to paint your car with bedliner. Whether you are painting a small car, a truck, a van, or even a boat, chances are it will take you longer than expected to prep, mask, paint the bedliner, and clean up. My personal recommendation is to set aside an entire weekend for the project. You might be able to knock it all out in half a day, but what if something comes up? What if the weather turns bad or your buddy has to leave?
Also, realize there is a learning curve to everything, and you just won’t be as fast as you probably imagine you will. Everything takes time, and the cleaning and prep alone can take up the better part of half a day, especially if you are painting a truck or van with bedliner.
Set aside plenty of time to do it right and don’t rush the job. If you can’t finish in one day, break the vehicle into separate sections where there is a natural body line. For example, just paint halfway up the car to the trim line, or just the front half to the gap where the doors meet the fenders. Doing it this way will reduce the chance for a splotchy, uneven finish.
The bottom line is plan ahead and schedule plenty of time to paint your car with bed liner. Doing so will make the whole process go a lot smoother and give you a much better end result.
Make Sure the Conditions Are Right
This one is kind of a no brainer, but it’s worth mentioning because it could easily get overlooked. Maybe you have been planning your bedliner paint job for weeks, and you’ve got everything ready – the place, the materials, a willing assistant – but it’s going to rain that weekend. As much as a bummer as that is, you can’t get half way through painting your car with bedliner when a thunderstorm erupts. You have to plan ahead and if things look bad – reschedule. Rain causes paint to cure much slower even if you aren’t directly in it. Very high winds can also make a bedliner paint job almost impossible because the bed liner will literally blow right off the roller! Not only that, but your masking materials will blow away too. Wait until the weather cooperates and you’ll have more time to complete your bedliner paint job without rushing or stopping when it’s partially done. You will have a much better finished product and MUCH less of a mess on your hands.
Prep your Vehicle Thoroughly
Essentially, bedliner is a type of epoxy based paint. Therefore, prepping a car for a roll-on (or spray-on) bedliner paint job is almost exactly the same process and prepping the vehicle for a new coat of paint. The biggest difference being that the surface does not need to be sanded smooth. Small imperfections, door dings, and paint chips really don’t matter. What really DOES matter is getting the vehicle clean so the bedliner will adhere properly. Here are some tips for getting your vehicle as clean as possible before your bedliner paint job:
Wash the vehicle with a good soap
Some soaps even have wax and grease removers, and if you can find one that does, use it. I even recommend washing your vehicle twice before applying bedliner to it, and use a sponge or a scrub brush each time. After washing, be sure and rinse all the crevices, and give your vehicle lots of time to try. Wipe it down with a towel, and blow out the nooks and crannies with an air compressor if you have one available. After that, let the vehicle air dry for at least a couple of hours. If the weather is good, you may even want to let it dry overnight. If you are painting your car with bedliner and some water drips out from under your trim, that area may not adhere and you might have some peeling later.
Wipe it down with Acetone
This step is important. It removes the wax and grease trapped inside the paint and allows the bedliner to adhere better. Some people use different things for this step, such as paint thinner or Xylene, but I have found acetone works the best. Just pour a little on a rag and wipe a section of the vehicle. It will evaporate quickly, so just do a section about the size of a fender. Go around the whole car and make sure you wipe down all surfaces that will be painted with the bedliner. It is important to wear gloves and try not to get the acetone on the skin or in your eyes. Try not to inhale it either, this stuff is pretty strong!
Scuff the Paint Where it’s Needed
If you have a good paint job on your car (why are you painting your car with bedliner again?) you may need to scuff it up to create a good surface for the bed liner to adhere to. Even if your paint job isn’t good, you may have certain areas where the clearcoat is intact and very smooth. For these areas, a light scuff with a medium grit sandpaper or a Scotch-Brite pad will do the trick. A slightly rough surface is preferable for a good result with your bedliner paint job. Just be careful and don’t scuff up any parts you won’t be coating with bedliner. Also, wipe down the scuffed surfaces again with acetone to make sure they’re clean and free of residues.
Apply Your Bedliner Paint job!
Now here’s the fun part! Once you’ve done all of the cleaning and prep, painting your car with bedliner is easy. These tips apply to rolling bedliner on your entire vehicle, but even if you are just rolling a truck bed, boat hull, or anything else, they will still apply. Here are some tips that I recommend to make your bedliner paint job turn out awesome:
- Follow Directions. This tip may be boring, but it’s essential to a good bedliner paint-job. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to mix and apply the bedliner. They have done lots of scientific testing to figure out what works best, so going with that is a smart bet.
- Work from the top down. By starting at the top and working your way down, you are much less likely to accidentally brush up against or smear the bedliner you’ve already applied. Plus, if you get a run, it’s easy to take care of.
- Apply the bedliner evenly. This may be the most difficult part of the bedliner paint-job, and it is the most critical for a good outcome. With the roller, paint your vehicle just as you would paint your house. Even strokes with about 50% overlap. Start in one area and cover that area before moving on to another area. In other words, don’t haphazardly start rolling all over your vehicle! Keep it neat and take it slow and steady. The result will be much better.
- Keep supplies handy. You may drip bedliner somewhere you don’t want it, so keep your rag and Acetone nearby. Also, you will want to have your can of bedliner placed in a convenient location to refill your tray. You will also want to keep your extra rollers nearby to swap them out if they get overloaded. Check out “Mistakes to Avoid” below for more on that.
- Stay Neat. Simple – try not to make a mess. Little messes add up to a really big mess, and bedliner is pretty unforgiving. If you drip or spill, clean it up right away, it’s much easier that way!
Let The Bedliner Cure
This step may seem like another no-brainer, but I had to add it in because it’s so easy to mess up your new bedliner paint job by touching it too soon. Follow the guidelines on the product you’re using, but as a general rule, don’t get in and out of the car or drive it around for at least a couple of hours. This will allow the bedliner to cure completely so it is hard to the touch. Now you can open the doors, the hood and do whatever you need to do without risking a huge blotch on your fresh paint job.
Mistakes to Avoid
There’s no way to list every possible mishap when painting your car with bedliner, but I thought I should mention a few very important things NOT to do. Here they are:
Don’t Get in a Hurry
I’m sure you’ll be excited to give your vehicle a whole new look and complete your bedliner paint job. That’s understandable, but don’t rush it. You might feel the urge to get started even though you don’t have all the supplies, or you might want to try and rush to finish the job before it rains. Big mistake! Take the time to prepare and do the job properly, and you will end up with a result you can be prod of. Rush it, and the whole bedliner paint job may turn in to an irreversible OOPS!
DON’T do it Unless You’re Sure
Speaking of irreversible, don’t go into a bedliner paint job thinking you can just remove it if you don’t like it. If you’re not 100% sure you want to paint your vehicle with bedliner, just wait and consider your options. Although technically it is possible to remove bedliner, it would be so much work and take so long that it probably wouldn’t be worth it. On that note, DON’T paint your car with bedliner if you are concerned about the re-sale value. Some specialty vehicles, such as jeeps, will have roughly the same or even higher re-sale value with a bedliner paint job. For the vast majority of vehicles, however, the re-sale vale will go down dramatically. Depending on the circumstances, you may not even be able to sell your vehicle if it has a bedliner paint job. Basically, if you will need to sell your car and are worried about the money you’ll get for it, consider other options.
DON’T Let Your Roller Run Dry!
This is a mistake I made on Project Behemoth, and I want to pass my knowledge on to you. If you are rolling your vehicle with bedliner, keep the roller saturated with bedliner and don’t let it run dry trying to get a few more inches of coverage. What happens is the dry roller starts to pick up half-dried bedliner off the surface of the vehicle, and it creates an uneven texture. This will ultimately lead to the “striping” you see in some pictures. By the same token, don’t try to roll over half-dried bedliner after it has been curing for a while. If you notice a spot you missed or that isn’t covered well enough, wait until the bedliner dries completely before going over it again. Otherwise the same thing will happen and you will have an uneven mess on your hands.
I had fun when I did my first bedliner paint job on Project Behemoth. Be sure to enjoy yourself and make it a great experience.