There is a common misconception that the same steps should be followed when painting all types of metal. To an extent this is somewhat true but with each metal there is a slightly different process that should be followed to achieve the best looking and most durable finish.
Aluminum can be tricky because it can sometimes be difficult to get paint to stick directly to it. If paint is applied directly to aluminum without primer, sooner or later it will begin to bubble peel up or chip.
In order to achieve a quality painted finish on bare aluminum, you must first clean the metal with PRE Painting Prep or some type of solvent. This will remove dirt and contaminants from the surface of the metal.
Next, go over the aluminum with 320 Grit Sand Paper on a DA Sander. This step can be done by hand but for the best results a DA Sander should be used. After sanding, use a blow gun to remove any dust and then wipe down the aluminum again with PRE.
Now mix and apply Epoxy Primer directly on to the bare aluminum. If a normal primer is used the paint has a chance of peeling or flaking later on. Eastwood Epoxy Primer has self etching properties that chemically bond the primer to the metal rather than just a mechanical bond achieved by normal paints.
Depending on the goal of your project you have a few options after the epoxy primer is sprayed. If you are happy with the the primer looks all that needs to be done is a quick scuff the panel with a Gray Scuff Pad or 400 grit sandpaper and you are ready to paint and clear.
If you are going for a more finished look you can apply High Build Urethane Primer and level with 320 Grit Sandpaper on a Sanding Block. Scuff the piece with a Gray Scuff Pad and wipe down with PRE. With the surface now level it is ready for paint and primer.
Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To’s, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects. If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don’t hesitate to leave a comment.
– James R/EW