Flake, Pearl, Candy, Lace, and all things flashy are what full blown Kustom Paintjobs are all about. If you want to flex your painting skills and standout with your paint job you’ll need to learn the process of custom taping, spaying candy, flake, and pearl. We decided to let Eastwood Tech Mike L. paint a skateboard to show you the basic steps to achieving a wild paint job like the pros do.
Like any paintwork you need to clean and prepare the surface you’re painting very well. We started by wiping the entire deck down with PRE Painting Prep to clean any grease, oils, or debris off of the surface so that wouldn’t be imbedded into the surface when sanding. With the board clean Mike then took a palm DA sander with 180 grit paper over the board to rough up the surface and give the primer a textured surface to “bite” into. A maroon scuff pad was then used to abrade the areas the sander couldn’t easily get into. Finally the surface was wiped clean with Devilbiss Prep Wipes to clean off any sanding dust or oils from handling the deck.
With the deck roughed up and prep’ed for primer, Mike decided to save time and gun cleaning by activating a can of Eastwood 2K Aerospray Urethane High Build Primer. The 2K Aerospray cans are like a paint gun in an aerosol can. You push the button on the bottom of the can to puncture the bladder inside holding the activator and shake it to mix the two components together and then spray. No clean up, no mess, and the same quality product as right out of the paint gun! Mike ended up applying three wet coats, waiting 10 minutes between each coat. He then let the board sit for 3-4 hours to cure before sanding or handling.
Next black guide coat was lightly dusted over the entire skate deck to show any high or low spots when block sanding the surface. It’s very important that the surface is smooth AND flat before moving forward. He then wet sanded the entire surface with 400 grit paper until everything was flat and scuffed the edges of the board with a maroon scuff pad until the sheen was removed from them. Again, PRE was used to clean the sanding residue off before moving to the next step.
With the boring stuff out of the way we were ready to get onto the fun of applying color! Mike chose Eastwood Candeez Silver Base Coat as the first color to lay down on the surface of the board. He laid two coats of the silver Candeez base waiting ten minutes between coats and then allowed it to cure for 30 minutes. During this cure time it’s a good idea to tidy up your work area and start mixing your metal flake and clear for the next steps.
Now we’re ready to make this deck pop! Mike decided on Eastwood bubble top silver super flakes and European Urethane Clear to mix together and spray over the deck. Mixing and reducing may vary on your personal preference and climate, but we’ve found that mixing the clear at a 2:1:0.5 (required 2:1 mixture with one half part reducer added) ratio works best for us. After stirring the clear thoroughly you can add your desired flake into the clear while stirring. Mike then sprayed three coats of the clear/metal combo onto the deck, allowing 20 minutes between coats. You may need to shake the gun occasionally to keep the flakes floating inside the spray gun cup so they don’t all settle to the bottom. The clear will feel “hand slick” where it’s mostly dry before 20 minutes, but extra time is necessary during each coat of flake because of the extra clear coat being used to carry the flake. The scientific explanation is that you want to give plenty of time for the solvents to escape before trapping them in with another coating and potentially causing bubbling in between coats.
At this point you should have waited 20-30 minutes since the last coat of flake before adding an “intercoat clear” This step will “seal” the flakes in before the next steps. Mike mixed another batch of the Eastwood Euro Clear with no reducer this time. This was done to help the clear build more heavily on the surface to completely cover the flake. Three wet coats were sprayed waiting 20 minutes between coats for full coverage. Now you can call it quits for the day/night and let the surface cure for at LEAST 18 hours before the next steps.
After the last coats of intercoat clear have fully cured Mike wet sanded the surface with 800 grit paper to flatten out any texture caused by clear coating over the flake. We chose 800 grit paper because the sanding scratches from the paper are so fine they won’t show through the next coats, but it’s still rough enough to give a good mechanical adhesion for those next coats. Care must be taken while sanding in this step so you don’t potentially sand through the three coats of clear and into the metal flake. Once again the edges are abraded with a scuff pad (this time a gray pad) to remove any shiny spots and ensure good adhesion.
Next you want to clean the surface multiple times. Start with PRE painting prep and a lint-free rag. Then follow up with a Devilbiss Prep Wipes to throughly clean up from the wet sanding and handling of the deck. Finally a tack rag is lightly wiper over the surface to be painted, your paint suit, and the area you’re painting in to remove any dust, dirt, hair, etc.
With the base coats taken care of we could move to applying our second candy paint. Mike picked out the Eastwood Candeez Blue By You and mixed it at the standard 4:1. You can add reducer as you see fit, but on this deck one half part reducer was mixed in with the candy paint to gain more control over the change in color by each coat. You want to apply with candy in medium coats, NOT wet coats like a clear coat. If the candy is applied too heavily it can cause streaking or large variances in the candy concentration.
Three coats were applied at the first step, waiting 15 minutes in between coats. The last coat was allowed to cure for 6 hours before taping. This material has an 18 hour “open window” where it may be top coated without scuffing the surface, so waiting 6 hours here will not cause adhesion issues but it will allow it to cure enough to handle it gently. Working with activated or catalyzed materials means you need to allow plenty of time for it to cure to the point where you can tape to it without damaging the surface. At this stage, you could also spray a single coat of clear over the surface to “close it up”, allow it to cure overnight, and then scuff the surface to prepare for taping. This would allow more freedom with taping instead of being so careful not to damage the fresh candy. This also gives you a stopping point if you need more time to lay out your tape lines.
Tape designs are really up to your imagination with nothing being out of the question. Lay them out on a sample piece of cardboard to practice your design or make sure you like how it looks. We like to keep a combination of Vandemon 1/6″ crepe, Norton Fine Line 1/8″, 1/4″, and Norton Yellow 1/4″ Crepe tape on hand to make intricate designs on the surface. Keep a few sharp single blade razor blades on hand as well to trim and cut your tape. Once you have a design you’re happy with you’ll want to hit the entire surface with a tack rag a few times to assure any dust, dirt, or debris from taping have been removed.
Now we’re ready for our third coat of candy. Blue By You Candeez was used again and mixed at the same 4:1:0.5 ratio. Mike sprayed three more coats over the entire surface, waiting 15 minutes between coats. After 15 minutes the last coat had flashed and Mike carefully removed the masking tape from the surface, exposing the areas which only had three coats of candy. The three coat sections appear lighter and the six coat areas appear much more intense candy blue.
Next we wanted to seal the design up so we used Eastwood Euro Clear mixed at a 2:1 ratio to completely coat the surface just like covering the flakes. In this case the material needs to cover the raised edges where the additional three coats of candy meet the flat surface with the initial three coats. Three wet coats of clear were sprayed, waiting 20 minutes between each coat. Then the entire surface was wet sanded again with 800 grit paper to level the multiple coats out like we did with the flake coats.
This last step of applying clear coat is commonly referred to as “flow coating”. With the surface leveled, this step is simply building up a perfectly flat show finish. This step is what makes those high end show car paint jobs like a mile deep. It’s definitely necessary when doing a Kustom paint job, so don’t skip this! Mike mentioned he prefers to spray clear reduced during these last coats to allow it to flow smoothly. For this last clear session he mixed the Eastwood Premium Show Clear at a 2:1:0.5 ratio so the clear would flow out like glass.
At this point your on the home stretch! We started the finishing process by wet sanding the surface with 2000 grit to remove dirt nibs and then hit the surface with 3M compound on a wool pad, followed by machine polish on a foam polishing pad and then the ultra fine polish on a fresh polishing pad. Norton Liquid Ice system can also be used, all personal preference and they both work great. Mike likes to use the full size buffer and pads and have a helper hold the other side of the board, but you could also a smaller Norton 3” pad products to use with a small air polisher.
As you can see the results speak for themselves, a crazy design with multiple layers giving a ultra deep finish. This is something that takes practice and small projects like skateboard decks, motorcycle helmets, etc are perfect to get your feet wet in the process. Thanks for reading!