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Old 12-27-2008, 05:16 AM
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Rattle Can Paint Tips

Hey guys, I had an allergic reaction to something I ate and I feel horrible and can't sleep so I typed up the following in an effort to do something productive and hopefully helpful.

Rattle Can Tips

I have been using Rustoleum spray paint for over 30 years now on a variety of projects from brackets to bicycles, to bumpers, to wheels, to complete bodies and I have learned a couple of tricks along the way that I would like to share.

Don't underestimate the importance of good prep work.
This is true on any paint job. I always clean and sand the parts I want to paint. I generally use 300 grit paper and just try to put a nice even scuff over the entire part so that the paint has something to stick to. Be smooth when you are sanding and don’t use too much pressure as you don’t want to create any deep scratches. Rattle can paint will NOT hide imperfections. If you have a scratch or divot you need to smooth it out before you paint or you will see it forever.

Clean your parts.
After you sand your project, get it all nice and smooth and evenly scuffed you are going to need to clean it. Acetone works well for removing dirt and oil. However, it is one more chemical to buy and store and if you read the label it too requires careful handling. I usually just use a good dish soap that it known to cut oil and grease like dawn. Mix a little into a bucket of water and wash down the part and let it air dry. If you have access to it, use compressed air on the part before you paint it to remove dust and small partials. Towels and clothes usually don’t work too well for me as they leave link on the part.

Paint in a warm clean environment and hang your parts.
This is usually pretty easy for me as I live is sunny Southern California. For smaller parts I like to hang them from a rafter in the garage or a tree limb in the back yard with a wire coat hanger. Walk all the way around the part as you paint. If this is not possible, make sure you turn the part around as you paint. Also, don’t forget to paint eh bottom of the part. Look at it from all angles in good bright light to ensure you have covered it completely. CAUTION: When painting in-doors make sure you have good ventilation and be advised that when using rattle can paint you WILL get a fine mist of paint EVERYWHERE. Cover or remove items you do not want to be painted. Additionally, make sure your spouse’s vehicle is NO WHERE NEAR your work area. I cannot emphasize this one enough.

For larger parts I lay an open ladder on it’s side, place a piece of cardboard, or plywood on the ladder and then set the part on that. Basically I use anything to keep the part up off the ground. Again, make sure you walk all the way around the part to ensure even coverage.

Apply THIN coats.
Rattle can paint likes to run. Get it on a little to thick and it will sag. This is also a problem in cooler weather. To combat this, keep the can a good 10-12 inches away form the part and keep the can moving across the part. I usually point the can an inch or so away from the part, push the button and as the paint sprays I move it across the part and release the button about an inch pas the part, Move down and repeat. I don’t worry about getting total complete converge at this stage as I know I will go back and apply one or two more coats.

Plan on multiple coats.
As mentioned above it is a VERY good idea to plan on putting at least two thin coats of paint on your part. This is very true on larger parts and body panels if you hope to get smooth even coverage. When painting a body, I do it a section at a time like one door or one fender. I sand the entire body and get it nice and smooth and scuffed and complete all of the bodywork and then I clean and paint each section at a time. I paint it different directions with each coat. First coat will be left to right and then after it dries the second coat with be top to bottom. On larger panels like the hood it will first appear that you are not getting complete coverage and you will see “stripes”. Keep applying thin coats in different directions and the strips will fade away until you have a nice even color.

Let the paint dry.
Be patient. You put a lot of time and effort into good prep work on the part, you set up a good place to paint, you warmed up your paint (see below) and the first coat looks good. Leave it alone. I usually let the part dry for at least a couple of hours before I add a second coat. The last thing you want to do is handle a part that it not fully dry and leave finger prints. Remember, the paint is going to dry from the outside in so if you lightly touch it the part will feel dry but once you pick it up your fingerprints will be all over it if the lower layer of paint is not fully cured. Once you put fingerprints on it you have to set it aside, let it dry completely for a day or two and then start over with the prep work.

Heat your parts.
Whenever possible I like to put small parts in the oven for a few minutes and get them nice and toasty. I usually set the oven to 200 degrees and bake them for 10-15 minutes. This works really well after they have been washed and it ensures they are nice a dry in all the nooks and crannies when I apply the paint. 200 degrees to too hot for me to handle so I use an old oven mitt to take the part out and hang it up. The heat form the part causes the carrier in the paint to evaporate quickly and it helps reduce sags and runs. It also causes the paint to dry quickly and often allows me to apply a second coat immediately after the first coat. CAUTION: Use of the oven to heat jeep and motorcycle parts is often best done when the spouse is away from the house. Additionally, it is a good idea to purchase your own oven mitt for removal of the parts. I have found that the old torn and stained oven mitt in the draw often has some deep childhood or sentimental meaning that is forever ruined when it gets a spot of grease on it.

Heat your paint.
This is my favorite tip and I use it all the time. I take a plastic container, fill it with water and put it in the microwave for about two minutes. I get the water nice and hot like a good cup of coffee but nowhere neat boiling. I then put my paint can in the water for a minute or so and let that heat get into the can. The heat thins the paint and allows it to mix with the carrier better and when it sprays it comes out in a much finer mist and does not splatter. CAUTION: I believe a stupid person could heat the water to an extreme temperature and put the can in it and cause the heat and pressure in the can to rise and blow up the can. DON’T DO THAT.

Dry your part in a warm environment.
My favorite place to dry parts is in the sun in the back yard. The heat from the sun seems dry the entire part very evenly and smoothly. When it is cold and rainy out I have found another nice little trick from small parts. I hang them from the shower rod in the bathroom, open the heat register, close the door, and turn on the house heater for a while. It doesn’t take much and the bathroom gets all nice and toasty and the parts dry right up. CAUTION: Use of the bathroom to dry freshly painted parts is often best done when the spouse is away from the house. Additionally, it is a good idea to open the bathroom window after you remove the parts as the “sent” of paint will be present and you WILL get busted.

I hope this was useful to someone.

Take Care.
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Old 12-27-2008, 09:28 AM   #2
that's what she said

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sorry to hear about the allergic reaction. hope you feel better. but, great post though.

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Old 12-27-2008, 09:36 AM   #3
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Good write up. In the cold weather, I have used a hair dryer on low before to dry the parts by hanging them from the shower curtain, but it does make the hair dryer smell like paint for the rest of its life, so I would recommend having a spare one around. I like the tip about warming the paint up, Im gonna try that next time. Thanks for the post.
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