Hey look, Rhythmdvl’s painting his van. Let’s help him not screw it up!

We have a van we take to music festivals, and it’s just not discrete enough. So we’re going to paint one of its quarterpanels in chalkboard paint. You know, for kids.

I’ve never actually painted a vehicle before, and while I’m clearly not looking for a smooth, factory-like finish, I’d like not to screw things up and end up with an eyesore (notwithstanding the calibre of the chalk-drawn artwork or the occasional dick-pic drawn when it’s at Lowes).

Here’s our plan—please let us know if there are missing steps or things to watch out for:

Step one: open beer and wine.
I normally drink single malts and choice blends, but this seems much like a much more beer-like activity.

**Step two: tape off the windows and lights. **
This panel has no door, so there are natural lines around the panel to follow. There is one small area near the rear top where the panel just continues to the roof. Not sure exactly how to handle that. My plan is to sand and paint to the masked line, then once all is done get one of those stick-on moldings (or maybe just a sticker) and cover the line.

Step three: Scuffy the wonder prep.
I have a few pieces of 100-grit sandpaper to put on an orbital sander. The dimensions of the panel are only about six by four or five feet or so, so I can’t imagine needing more than one piece. I’m not looking to do anything other than scuff up the surface, not seek out any rust or other malignancies (haven’t looked too closely, but don’t know of any rust). Wherever there is a ding or wave the sander can’t get into, I’ll scuff things up by hand.

Anything I’m missing here prep-wise? Things to be careful of? Better descriptor other than ‘scuff’? I’m basically thinking I’ll be ruining the current paint job, nothing more.

Step four: clean
A couple towels and a bucket of Dawn-laced water later, and the dust and detritus should be gone. How pesky and fine will the dust likely have been—as in, will a basic hand washing be sufficient or is this the time to be extra careful?

Step 5: priming
I have a quart of Zinsser oil-based interior/exterior primer and sealer. I figure besides good practice, this will help in case I sanded too deeply. I had Home Depot add a Touch of Grey.

Since the van is maroon, the primer is grey, and the final paint is black, do I need to put on two coats of primer?

**Step 6: To scuff or not to scuff? **
Am I supposed to re-scuff the surfaces after the primer has dried? Or is the primer ready to take on the paint? Should I wash or wipe it down? I don’t care about a hair or bit of dust, so I don’t need to be meticulous.

Step 7: Finally, to the paint
So that’s it, then? Do I just dump my paint into the tray, dip a roller in and slather it on? I know spraying would be better factory finish-wise, but it’s pretty far beyond my capabilities at the moment. Actually, I’d like nothing more than to go out and buy a new pneumatic tool, but time and preparations just won’t allow for it. My main concern would be painting the interior of the garage or side of the house.

Anyway, my idea was to treat this as if it was just another interior wall and this is just another apartment I want to gussy up for leaving but don’t want to overdo it. Paint it, wait several hours, paint it again, let it sit for a day or so, peel off the tape and drive around.

Are we good to go or is there a major screwup lurking in the wings?

Seems like a good plan to me. You might want to thin the chalkboard paint a bit and apply a few more coats to get a smoother finish, but I’m not sure how well you can thin that stuff (or with what)

Mostly, you want be sure it will Not Fade Away. You don’t want to be GDTRFB…

I had a neighbor once who painted his old car with a brush. The car looked like it had been painted with a brush. :wink:

Post before/after pics, please???

:grin: Everything is different; I’m painting my masterpiece~

Will definitely take before and afters. Had thought about brush, roller and gun. Brush would definitely leave lines. I’ve had good luck with rollers creating a smooth finish, so hopefully this will go, um, smoothly.
Harbor Freight has a whole line of paint guns for Harbor Freight prices (note: I already have a small compressor). I’ve had great luck with their stuff for non-critical applications, which this falls into. Any idea whether it would be a disaster to try and learn spraygun painting on this or will a paint roller do well enough, particularly given that it’s chalkboard paint we’re talking about, not a car finish?

The major problem, and one I definitely looked into myself, is that chalkboard paint is indoor use only. While building my Little Free LibraryI found outthat it really is not rated for outdoor use. I’d be worried that no matter how meticulous you try to be, it’s just not going to last and end up looking “screwed up”.

Getting the stuff in a spray paint can might be a good compromise between the brush and trying to get a paint gun to work. It looks like they do have it, although not in the brand you linked to. I’ve been known to be involved in a rattle can job or two during my earlier years and with good prep (which it sounds like you’re doing) and careful application you can get fairly decent results.

With black paint, getting the color right isn’t going to be that big of a deal so one coat of primer should be fine. In fact, the chalkboard stuff may be so opaque that you don’t really need the primer at all.

You might want to try the whole process out in an inconspicuous corner (like under the hood) first to see how it looks, but it sounds to me like you’ve generally got the right idea.

Roller will be better than brush. You need to keep it covered in someplace clean. Dirt, dust, leaves, lint, animal hair, human hair, excrement, scrap paper, sawdust, plastic, syrofoam beads, feathers, loose insulation, children’s hands, curious adul’s hands, and paws among many other things have a strong attraction to fresh paint on cars.

I’m hoping this’ll hold up–I read a lot of fine print on Rustoleum and other brands, but always found ‘interior only’ notes. According to the Sydney Harbor spec sheet (PDF) and a couple reviews, this is rated for exterior use. I figure that the smallish area I’m covering means I’ll have some left over to redo in a few years if need be (hopefully not though).
I should leave the method well enough alone and hope the roller does a good job. Again, not looking for a high shine (opposite, really), so the smooth roller application will hopefully be up to the task.

The paint in Rhythmdvl’s link says it’s for outdoors as well. But that is a good point that he should make sure the can he picks up up is rated for exterior use.

Bugs, bugs love wet paint. They not only like to land in it, they like to stroll around a bit too.

DesignTex, the fabric company owned by Steelcase, has a paint-on product that turns any painted surface into a dry-marker whiteboard. Ideally, you’d use it on white. So, think about painting that van white, whiteboarding it, and then letting the kids loose with dry markers!

(Just kidding – don’t know if it’s for external use, probably not.)

BTW, black, especially glossy black, is the hardest one to make look good. Not to mention it gets blazing hot in the sun. My guess is it’ll look like an amateur job. Friends of mine who paint cars spent quite a bit of time developing the skills.

In any case, good luck, have fun, and enjoy the beer.

I would stick to paints that are intended for automotive use. It’s a special purpose application. Car surfaces take more abuse than most, and metal car bodies shrink and flex considerably.

You forgot: Repeat Step One In-Between All Other Steps, Or As Needed

There may be bugs on some of you mugs, but there ain’t no bugs on me!

On the fortunate side, I’ll be painting this in the garage with both bays open, then shutting one to keep the airflow down just a touch. That’s just a slight improvement over painting it in the open air, but it’s something. Also, the early spring timing means fewer tiny footprints. I don’t mind them mucking it up though; I just hope the number of corpses doesn’t dampen the spirit of things.

I saw that and was pretty tempted. I know that there’s no way paint will be able to really reproduce the open canvas of an actual slate chalkboard. But I figure we’re going to leave chalk in a basket on the van when we’re not there, something easy and very cheap to replace each festival. Dry erase markers aren’t all that expensive, but more than chalk. Plus, a dropped piece of chalk disintegrates; a plastic marker tube will sit somewhere. Oh, and all it would take is one yahoo to use a regular marker, and even though there are tricks for getting it out of a ‘real’ whiteboard, who knows how the paint would react.

Painting—from walls to cars—is definitely a skill. Working with a paint gun especially so. It’ll definitely look amateur, but as soon as chalk gets on it (and assuming it holds up), it’ll look fantastic.

ETA: :smack: see, I knew I woudl have overlooked something. Gatopescado pointed out a severe flaw in my plan!

So, it’s almost continuous?