Do It Yourself Auto Repair: Can You Paint A Car Interior?

How to fix and paint fading or cracking paint, plastic, vinyl and leather in the interior of old cars or trucks, including fabric on the seats.

You probably wouldn't want to paint the interior of a newer car, truck, or van. But if you have an older vehicle, you might well want to paint the interior, especially if it's faded. Or, maybe you are fixing up an older vehicle and you want to jazz up the inside. Either way, the answer is yes you can paint a car interior! You can paint the plastic, vinyl, and leather items, as well as the fabric on the seats too!

The first step in painting a dashboard, for example, is to remove the parts that you can. These would be items like heater vents, ashtrays, gearshift knobs, et cetera. Wash the removed parts in warm water with dish soap added to it, then rinse them and dry well. Then use a clean, soft cloth and the sudsy water to wash the plastic, vinyl, and leather stationary interior parts of the car. These items would include the dashboard, steering wheel, door panels, et cetera. You'll need to remove any protectants, et cetera, that have been applied to the parts and areas. Finally, rinse them well with clean tap water and allow them to air dry.

While the parts and the interior of the car are drying, you should use painter's masking tape to mask off parts and areas that you don't want to get paint on. Examples of these parts and areas would include the radio, gauges, chrome, et cetera.



The second step is to use a very fine grade of sand paper to gently rough up the surface on plastic parts and areas. Then, wipe off the sandpaper dust with a clean, soft cloth. You'll need to clean everything off one more time with another clean, soft cloth and rubbing alcohol.

The third step is to use a good-quality primer on the areas that you want to paint. You can purchase this at your local auto supply store. Follow the manufacturer's directions on the container in order to achieve the best results.

Now it's time to finally start applying the paint to the interior of your car. You'll have to purchase the proper type of paint for the job. That means, if the parts you want to paint are plastic, then you'll need a suitable paint for plastic, and so on. Again, follow the manufacturer's directions on the container so your painting job will look its best. Allow the parts that you removed to dry thoroughly before you reinstall them in your car. And, let the painted interior areas dry well too, with the windows down, before you drive the car.

To paint the upholstery seats on the interior of your car, there are a couple of products on the market that are specially made for this application. Be sure that you choose a product that is non-flammable and non-toxic. You'll have to follow the manufacturer's instructions, but, basically, the products come in a spray can. You have to first mask off the area around the upholstery with painter's masking tape and brown paper. Then, you spray the fabric with the paint as directed. It will probably take two coats of paint to cover the upholstery, especially if you're trying to change a darker color to a lighter shade.

After you have painted the upholstery, allow it to dry undisturbed with the car windows down for proper ventilation. The paint should last for a long time, though it may fade if the car is exposed to the sun for long periods of time.

Now that you have successfully painted the interior of your car, it probably looks like a brand new model!

© High Speed Ventures 2011