There’s a time, place, and vehicle for a proper show-winning paint job. What happens when you have the itch to customize your car or give it a better finish then it currently has, but don’t have the ability, tools, time or cash for a traditional repaint. Recently automotive enthusiasts have found a reversible way to customize and change the color of their vehicle without damaging the paint. This craze is called “dipping your car”. What’s involved when you dip your car? Well basically it’s a plastic coating that when sprayed heavy enough, can be peeled off of the surface without damaging the paint underneath. The key is to lay enough coats that you create a tough, flexible “skin” over the vehicle. Plasti-Dip and other plastic coatings were originally known for coating the handles of tools, benches, outdoor public furniture and other oddball uses until someone discovered that you can obtain the plastic coatings in gallons and spray it through a household paint sprayer.
We wanted to experience this craze for ourselves and one of our loyal local Eastwood customers “Sean H.” offered up his customized 1997 “Mk3″ VW Golf as a subject for dipping. Sean has owned this VW Golf since high school and after 8 years of daily driving, pizza delivery, and just general abuse, the original black paint paint on this car has seen better days. Sean also was a little bored with driving a black car and wanted something drastically different. It’s like one of those makeover shows where the guys wife is an ultra-conservative, boring dresser and the hosts make her look like an A-lister party-girl and the husband goes nuts. It’s not necessarily better, just different and a welcomed change. Since Sean has some sentimental attachment to this car, he didn’t want to sell her. This is just a temporary new look to rekindle the love affair with his little VW Golf.
Sean decided he really did want to go with a drastic makeover and he decided on White Plasti-Dip as his final color. As you can imagine changing from black to white is going to take a LOT of material to completely hide the black. Just like a traditional paint job Sean decided to use a “Mid-Coat” to speed up the process and require less coats of white. He chose Gun Metal Gray Plasti-Dip to lay down first over the original black paint. Most every base Plasti-Dip is dead flat and has almost zero gloss. This look isn’t for everyone, Sean included. He decided to top coat the white with Plasti-Dip Glossifier to give the white finish a bit of a gloss. Follow along below as we show you the basics to dipping your car.
As you can see the paint on this VW Golf has seen better days and this car gets driven a lot. Sean began by pulling the car into the shop and giving it a thorough cleaning. He finished up by wiping the entire car down with glass cleaner and began taping off the glass, emblems, and large parts of the car he didn’t want to coat. The nice thing about plastic coatings and Plasti-Dip is that it DOES peel off, so you can be pretty quick about taping off the car. Areas that have definitive breaks from the body like headlights, taillights, etc. can be left untaped and you can simply puncture the coating where it connected between the body and that part and just tear it off. We suggest focusing on areas that have little to no gap from the body and things that are intricate like emblems and certain trim. Otherwise the tedious job of taping off a car for paint is much easier when dipping a car!
Once the car was taped off Sean moved to preparing the Earlex Spray Station and the gun metal gray Plasti-Dip. Before pouring, Sean thoroughly mixed the dip. Once the first batch of paint was ready to spray Sean set his spray pattern and practiced his technique on a spare junk bumper rebar. From there Sean began laying his first coat of gray. Because of the dramatic color change he ended up laying 2 heavy coats of the gray to get enough coverage for the white to properly cover.
With the black muted a bit with the gray Plasti-Dip Sean thoroughly cleaned the Earlex gun and moved on to mixing and spraying the white Plasti-Dip. In the end he laid six coats of white to get a high build that could be peeled off easily. Sean waited about 30-35 minutes between coats to allow for the dip to “flash”. Once the car was all white you could really see why he decided to use the glossifier.
After the white flashed on the car Sean cleaned the Earlex gun and mixed up the glossifier. The glossifier does shoot a bit differently than the colors and you will need to dial your gun back to avoid excessive output which will cause runs and sags. Once the paint gun was adjusted properly he applied three coats of the glossifier again allowing 30-35 minutes between coats. The final result gives the white almost a metallic or pearlescent effect to the gloss. Definitely better than chipping, fading original paint!
With the car fully dipped everything could be untaped and the coating peeled off of the headlights, taillights, and other parts he didn’t want the coating on. The best way to do this is to cut or poke a hole in an edge or corner of a part and peel the edge up as you go like you’re removing a vinyl sticker. Any excess that isn’t built up enough to peel off can be rubbed off using your fingers or a sponge. Remember it’s easier to remove heavy “overspray” Plasti-Dip than just a light dust coat!
Once the car was unmasked and the excess coating removed, Sean rolled the car outside to get a good look at it. The finish has a cool medium sheen with a metallic/pearl type look in some lights. Up close there is a light texture, but from a few feet away it really looks great and could almost be mistaken for a traditional respray! Sean plans to use the Black Aerosol Plasti-Dip to coat the side trim and some other parts to break up the amount of white on the car. That’s one of the nice things about dipping a car is that you can just peel it off if you don’t like it or peel a portion to add another color or customize the dip further. Now that the car is back on the road Sean has a new love affair for his car and he can be seen rocking it around town with pride like the day he first bought it!