Painting Plastic

I did a search, I don’t know what i’m talking about, but i know what i want to do. I want to paint motorcycle bodywork which is made of plastic. I’ve heard that the factories use a mix of MEK in the paint to aid adhesion to the plastic. I have no other info other than that, and I don’t know where else to search.

get online or open the yellow pages and look for custom bike shops in your area. most of the small shops that don’t have their own facilities for painting have to shop out that work so they should know every good painter within a 100 mile radius.

ask them what types of paint they use, if they have ever painted plastic and not just metal parts, make it sound like you have some work for them and they will tell you everything you want to know.

then if you want to do it yourself call around for distributors and get whatever the shop told you they used.

unless you’re thinking about trying to paint a polypropylene fuel tank (almost impossible at home) on your dirt bike, plastic parts paint just like metal. Fiberglass, ABS, SMC

To minimize the overall amount of sanding use the highest number “grit” paper you can get away with to fix surface defects; 180, 220. If you just want to repaint a part then basically you start with 220, prime the part, wet sand the surface out to 320, dry it, prime it, wet sand it out to 400, dry it, prime it again, wet sand it out to 600, and shoot the color.

If you have problem areas that need more excavation use 80 sparingly. Fill in the craters with Bondo (or other brand filler). and then work the entire part up to the point of the above paragraph.

Easy to remember, if you can see and scratches in the primed surface, you’ll definitely see them in the paint.

IMHO: don’t go to a custom painter and hit him up for the secrets of his trade and waste his time (would you like it?). Go directly to an automotive paint store and ask them … you’re going to buy paint at some point anyway and most of these guys love to lead newbies, who become new customers.

start here:

then go here:

thanks for the replies, I know how to repair parts and sand them and spray with primer.

My objective is to avoid using primer as a base coat and go directly to the color. It’s more of a really want to know just in case of a question than having a work order with that request. BUT, the more I know how to do, the more I can offer.

I think you are going to have a hard time skipping the primer stage.

You probably already know the term primer/surfacer. It is a combination of a filler and adhesion promoter. Primer/surface is what develops the actual surface that the paint will cover.

When I hear the term “base coat” , for example, I think of the pearl white PAINT that is under a translucent color to increase its luminosity. Like, say, tangerine metal-flake, or pewter-on-silver.

Are we on the same page term-wise?


Are you molding fiberglass parts? If so primer gel-coats are available that cut out all of the “primer” spraying steps … but you still have to do a minimum amount of sanding.