You can not deny that carbon fiber has become extremely popular in the automotive industry. In fact, carbon fiber is a must for sports or high-end cars. It has become so popular thanks to how strong the material is. Also, it is reasonably light in weight, even though it is more durable than other heavyweight materials.
However, not everyone is fond of the looks that carbon fiber has to offer. For that reason, most that end up with carbon fiber hoods will ask the professionals can you paint a carbon fiber hood or not. But is it really possible? If so, will you need to go through tons of hassles? We will fill you in regarding all of that!
Is It Possible to Paint Hoods That Are of Carbon Fiber?
The thing about carbon fiber is that it naturally has a unique pattern. This pattern makes the parts that are of carbon fiber stand out and eventually makes the whole car look pretty eye-catching.
But as we have mentioned, not everyone is a fan of the pattern or the color that carbon fiber hoods usually come with.
Now, a carbon fiber hood is that it will come with a protective finishing on the top. That finish is basically a clear coat. For that reason, many do not want to go through the hassle of painting carbon fiber hood. However, it is actually possible to paint a carbon fiber hood. You just need to know the correct procedure.
How to Paint Carbon Fiber Hood?
As you might know by now, carbon fiber has similar properties to metal. For that reason, the painting task will not be as easy as you might have thought it would. But as we have mentioned, things can get easy if you know the correct procedure. And the steps for that proper procedure are as follows:
Step 1: Check the Hood
If you are just unwrapping the hood from its original packaging, we would recommend checking if the hood is a perfect fit or not. Usually, the custom hoods will not provide an exact fit. And if you modify the surface before checking it, you will not be able to return it if something goes wrong.
Step 2: Wet Sand the Surface
After you have confirmed that the hood is a perfect fit for your car, you would need to wet sand the surface. The clear coat will make the carbon fiber hood have some bumps or imperfections on the top. Also, the top will be too glossy for the new paint to adhere to.
For that reason, you need to wet sand the surface. Wet sanding will also make the clear coat come out a little. So, do go too rough on the surface, or you might end up on the carbon fiber core.
Step 3: Wash the Surface
The sanding process will make the surface have too much loose sand dust and debris. You will not be capable of working on such a surface. The paint and the primer will not adhere to the top if you work on it like that. So, get yourself some water and clean the surface off. Dry it with a clean cloth.
Step 4: Apply Primer
Once you get the surface cleaned up, you need to work with the primer. Now, you should get more primer than you think you will need because the carbon fiber surface will require several coats of primer. Without the right amount of primer on top, the material will start absorbing the paint, which will not offer you the right finish.
On that note, you can also apply a layer of adhesion promoter before applying the primer. A gel coat will work best in this case. This adhesion promoter will ensure that the carbon fiber does not absorb all of the primers. And you might not have to apply more than three coats of primer after that.
Furthermore, do not just paint the surface with color right after applying the primer. Instead, wait for the required amount of time and let the primer dry to the bone. This will enable you to get the desired finish in the end.
Step 5: Spray Color Paint Coats
Next, you will need to get the sprayer, fill it up with the color paint of your choice, and apply two coats of paint on the surface. Now, two coats will be more than fine, but you might feel the need to apply three coats in some cases. Check how the surface looks and then decide whether it needs an additional coat or not.
Another thing that you need to consider is thick coats might look good on the surface, but thick spray coats will make the paint runny. Thick coats will also take a long amount of time to dry up. Instead, opt for thinner coats. They will stick with the surface better and will not take a long time to dry up.
Step 6: Add Layers of Clear Coat
The last and final step would be to add two layers of clear coat. But before you do that, ensure that the paint coats are dry. The coatings will add gloss, protect the surface from damage, and will be capable of resisting heat.
However, you should remember that clear coats require a reasonable amount of time to cure. So, you should not take the car out for a drive right after applying the clear coat layers. Instead, wait for at least one entire day.
The Challenges of Painting Carbon Fiber Hoods
- Surface Texture and Finish: Carbon fiber has a distinct texture, and achieving a smooth and even finish can be challenging. The surface may have a woven pattern that can show through the paint if not properly addressed.
- Adhesion Issues: Carbon fiber can be resistant to adhesion, making it crucial to properly prepare the surface for paint. Failing to do so can result in poor paint adhesion, leading to peeling or flaking over time.
- Flexibility: Carbon fiber hoods are often lighter and more flexible than traditional steel hoods. This flexibility can affect the paint’s durability, especially if the wrong type of paint or insufficient primer is used.
- Primer Compatibility: Choosing the right primer is essential for promoting adhesion and preventing issues like delamination. Using a primer that is incompatible with carbon fiber can lead to paint failure.
- Woven Pattern Visibility: The woven pattern of carbon fiber may remain visible even after painting. Achieving complete coverage and hiding the weave can be a challenge, especially with darker colors.
- UV Exposure: Carbon fiber is susceptible to UV damage. The clear coat used in the painting process needs to be UV-resistant to prevent the carbon fiber from yellowing or degrading over time.
To overcome these challenges, it’s advisable to follow best practices for surface preparation, use high-quality primers and paints specifically designed for composite materials, and potentially seek assistance from professionals experienced in painting carbon fiber components. Proper masking, thorough cleaning, and careful attention to detail are crucial for a successful paint job on carbon fiber hoods.
Can you paint carbon fiber hoods? Yes! It is undoubtedly possible to paint over the carbon fiber hoods. But as you can see, you need to follow the correct procedure, which we have mentioned. If you do not follow the steps correctly, you might ruin the overall look of the hood and end up with something that will look bizarre.