Carbon fiber is a popular item and you must be one of those who doubt the possibility of painting it. Painting a carbon fiber isn’t too different or too hard than conventional painting. So, how to paint carbon fiber?
You are ready to paint a carbon fiber, with the proper tool, knowledge, and skills. Well, a bit of skill is required here as the painting will be a bit tricky due to material thickness. Once you get hold of this, it’s super easy.
Can You Paint Over Carbon Fiber?
Yes, you can paint your carbon fiber. But if you ask, is carbon a good substrate for painting? Then the answer is No. The paint won’t easily adhere to its base. Hence, some preparation work is needed there.
Another thing you can consider is using paints formulated for carbon specifically. Those epoxy-based paints have strong adhesion to carbon fiber.
Should I Paint over Carbon Fiber?
Though you can paint it’s not mandatory. It’s not that unpainted carbon fiber will be damaged. People do it, to keep it looking new and attractive. If you are someone who likes the raw look, then don’t paint.
However, if you paint choose to give a clear coat at the very end of the painting to keep it glowing.
Even though it’s up to you whether to paint or not, do you know that many paints have UV-resisting properties? And that eventually helps.
Things to Keep in Mind While Painting Carbon Fiber
- If you paint a selective portion of the carbon fiber, it will look visibly different from the rest of the portion.
- Carbon fiber is fast in absorbing paint.
- Spilled water will run off the surface.
- Safety Prevention is a must like the stuff itself is sharp and in most cases can cut your skin.
- It’s a job of patience as there you will be providing very small detailing.
- Many recommend using an airbrush or spray paint for carbon paint. Because it helps with the detailing and handling of the thickness of the material.
What Type of Paint is Usable for Carbon Fiber?
Talking about the types, it differs depending on the way of drying and consistency level. You can choose from acrylics, lacquers, enamels, and the sub-types.
While painting auto-motive appliances, you should choose urethane-based paints. They are specifically formulated for that job.
The advantages you would get are fade-resistant properties, and resistance against chipping, tears, and wear. It’s not that other paints won’t merit your stuff with such properties. But urethane-based paint does it better.
Other than this paint, you can go for acrylic-enamel-based paint as they are well known for being the most durable.
How to Paint Carbon Fiber? Step by Step Guide:
Step 01: Surface Preparation
Start with cleaning the project’s surface with water and mild soap. Dry it up. Polishing with metal polish with prepare the base even more and increase the adherence.
Step 02: Masking the Unwanted Part
Mask off all the parts that you want untainted. This will not only ensure a perfect edge but also stop any kind of damage.
Step 03: Priming
Though priming people is an important step before painting, many happen to skip it.
Priming could be optional for many cases, like unprimed canvas, and it works out. But when it comes to carbon fiber, you can never skip priming.
Because carbon fiber doesn’t have a good adherence for paint. So, it’s the primer that does the important part of adhesion.
If you want a recommendation, rust oleum primer is a good choice.
Step 04: Painting
This part of the painting should be divided into two steps. You need to start with a light shade and end with the darker one.
So, what’s the point of starting with a lighter one. It will eventually help you see where the paint is coagulating up. And where it needs to touch up. So, this is your base color.
The base layer should be followed by the detailing with a darker shade. In the whole process, you need to focus on even application of each layer. And ensure that every layer is dry before getting another layer over it.
This base layer isn’t hard to apply but is tricky to choose. Whereas the final dark layer is delicate to apply. Choose the base layer wisely as it will be the final look. Apply the final layer preferably with an airbrush.
Step 05: Polishing
Polishing the carbon fiber lets you know whether or not the entire surface has even been painted. Uneven paint will peel off after a while. For this job, you will need a rotary device.
Step 06: The Final Coat
At the very end, when it’s almost 24 hours, the paint is dry. Now, apply the clear coating. The sealant will protect the paint for over years while giving it a smooth, matte look.
Challenges You Will Face While Painting Carbon Fiber
Carbon painting isn’t that hard but, it needs some tricks. Unless you know about the material, the process will be harder for you. The following are the challenges that you might face if you are a newbie.
The bends and curves of the fiber make it difficult for the noob to paint. Paint tends to coagulate over the surface if not applied evenly. However, it won’t be a problem for the experts.
You have to be extra careful while applying multiple layers. Extreme application of layers will lead to damage to the surface as the surface is often uneven. Moreover, layering too much paint will manipulate the color as well.
Many will skip the priming and preparation section which will lead to no good. You need to know carbon fiber isn’t a good substrate to adhere to paint, and preparation is a must.
Can I Paint over Painted Carbon Fiber?
It depends on the current state of the paint. However, if you want to strip off the paint, then use a chemical-based paint stripper. Then apply the solvent, and leave it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
After that, you can scrape off the paint using any sharp object and sand out the stubborn areas with fine-grit paper.
Properly wash the surface and dry it out. After a while, you can paint again. Don’t forget to prepare the surface again with sanding and priming.
Common Mistakes While Painting Carbon Fiber
While going through the important points and solving the challenges, there is a possibility of making these mistakes.
- As you are preparing the surface through priming and increasing the adhesion, applying too much primer will create a thick layer. Again, applying too little primer will result in flaking and peeling of the paint.
- Not all primers will work similarly. You need to choose a primer that is specifically made for carbon fiber.
- Sanding plays an important role in creating a smooth base for the paint. So, skipping this part will do no good.
- Thick paints will start sagging and so, you need to avoid a thick layer of paint. Make the layer thin and even. Like any other project, carbon fiber also needs drying of the former layer to apply the next coat of paint.
- The clear coat at the end isn’t something optional. It gives UV protection, giving a long-lasting finish to the fiber. So, one must never skip it.
- Many don’t care about waste disposal after the job is done. But the toxicity of the paint will surely affect your health slowly. Dispose of the residue following the safety instruction.
Now that you get the idea of how to paint carbon fiber, hope you won’t be in dilemma anymore. You can even use spray paint or brush paint for the job as per your requirement. All you need is to get a hold of the tricks and increase your skill.
There is a possibility of seeing cracks over painted carbon. But needs to be some reason for such an occurrence. One could be an extremely thick layer of paint. Another reason could be less maintenance.
Carbon fiber needs proper cleaning with water and soap regularly. High heat sources and direct sunlight shouldn’t be in contact with this carbon fiber. UV-resistant paint can help in such situations. Sanding and repainting are the only solutions for already cracked surfaces.
If your carbon fiber is under direct sunlight, there are high chances of fading the paint. However, there is a UV resisting lacquerer that you should apply on carbon to protect the paint.