How to Prep and Paint ATV Plastic Fenders and Body Parts

If you want to give your ATV a facelift and inject some new life into it without breaking the bank why not consider painting it? This is a great way to update your vehicle without giving yourself a huge amount of expense. Shelling out for replacement fenders or body parts can set you back considerably, so opting to give your current vehicle a makeover yourself can be a really practical choice. 

Painting ATV plastics may sound like an impossible task but it is not as difficult as you might think, provided you have the right tools and plan ahead accordingly. It will also give you the chance to customize your ATV and ensure it is exactly how you want it. As with many other DIY projects, painting your own ATV is an incredibly rewarding process and if you follow our useful guide you’ll be sure to be pleased with the end result.

How to Prep and Paint ATV Plastic Fenders and Body Parts

There are quite a few different methods as to how to approach this task, some of which will take longer than others. In this article we will go through two of these methods, one which is a fairly quick way to repaint your ATV, and another which will probably take you longer to complete but should leave you with a professional, high-quality finish. 

Whichever method you choose, there are a couple of important preparations that you’ll need to carry out beforehand to ensure that you can do a good job. After all, it’s all in the prep! A clean, even surface ensures better paint adhesion to the plastic fender surface, which will prolong its lifespan and produce a much better overall finish.

If the surface is not adequately cleaned before you start painting you will find that the paint will chip and peel off more easily, and will not last well when exposed to the elements. This part of the process will be fairly time-consuming, but following our advice will mean that you will be left with a smooth, even finish and should not be disappointed with the result. 

Making the best color choice for your ATV

Before you start updating your ATV, it’s useful to have a think about the most practical color choice for you. Some colors will hold up better than others so it’s important to consider your options and think about your ATV usage. You will want your paintwork to be durable and last for a long time so you won’t have to waste time retouching it. Very dark colors such as navy blue and black can show marks or scratches clearly so may not be the best choice. Interestingly, lighter colors such as red and yellow seem to work more effectively. Opting for a vibrant or colorful pattern, such as a camouflage pattern, can also be a really good way to disguise any scratches from view and achieve a stylish, modern look. 

Method 1

This first method offers a quick way to re-paint your ATV. Start by thoroughly cleaning the surface to ensure that no dust, dirt or debris can obstruct the paint coat. Once you have done this, it’s always a good idea to sand your ATV using a sandpaper, ideally 180 grit, to cover the entire surface area that you intend to paint. This is a really important part of the process as your ATV fenders and body parts will have been exposed to the natural elements for a long time which can cause them to develop a thin layer or ‘crust’ on the surface. You will need to be sure to remove this ‘crust’ before you move on to the next step and begin the task of painting. 

Next, it is advisable to remove the plastic pieces off your ATV that you plan to paint. It is possible to leave the plastic fenders or body parts in place for this method, but you’ll find that this can be quite a tricky business unless you have a very steady hand and will be able to adequately tape or section off the designated area. Paint tends to go everywhere you don’t want it to go, after all.

Once you have removed the areas you plan to work on, you’ll have a good opportunity to ensure that the surface is nice and clean before you apply the paint. Try using a sponge with some warm soapy water to remove any dirt or grime that you might have missed. Avoid aggressively scrubbing your ATV as this may result in scratches or small unsightly marks. 

This quick painting method requires a Spray Paint. 

Something like the ‘Krylon Fusion Spray Paint’ should do the job nicely with minimal drying time. This particular spray is fast drying and advertised to be fully chip resistant after seven days, making it a good choice for your ATV.

This spray actually states that a primer is not required prior to painting but priming is often a good way to fill in any imperfections in the plastic including any small scratches, so if you can spare the time, it’s well worth the effort.

There are many different primers available which should help prepare the surface for paint effectively. A good primer to have a look at is the Duplicolor Plastic Adhesion Promoter,  which is ideal or both plastic and metal surfaces and is a fast-drying product. 

After you’ve prepped the surface accordingly, you’re ready to start tackling the painting itself. Make sure the surface is completely dry before you start (this is especially important if you did use a primer). The Krylon Spray Paint should be fairly easy to use as it has a 360 degree dial spray tip, which will mean you’ll be able to get into any corners and grooves easily. You may wish to hang the plastic fenders and body parts up somewhere so you improve your access, and having the parts at a slight angle can actually help to cure the paint.

If you can, try to paint from the bottom to the top for a smoother finish as painting from the top to the bottom can mean that certain areas will end up being overdone or appear grainy in texture. Always spray lightly to avoid the paint running and keep in mind that if you spray too much in any one area the paint will lift and the texture will become cakey and uneven. Based on your preferred color intensity, apply as many coats as you need to achieve your desired coverage.

If you’re using the Krylon Spray Paint, you’ll need to wait around an hour for it to be dry enough to handle, and roughly seven days for the paint to have fully bonded to the plastic and be chip resistant. If you’re using an alternative spray paint, be sure to check the drying times as this is something that can vary quite widely from brand to brand. 

Method 2

This method will take you quite a while longer than the first method we have looked at, but you should find that the end result is a little more polished and professional. Start by removing all  the plastic fenders and body parts that you plan to paint from the body of the ATV. It will not be possible to carry out this method without removing them as you will need full access. As with the first method, the first thing to do is to thoroughly clean and sand the parts. Use warm soapy water and 180 grit sand paper to ensure that you have fully removed all the dirt and dust from the plastic surface.

The next task is to remove any contaminants. You can do this by using a scouring pad or scuff pad, and whatever appropriate cleaner you have to hand, preferably one with some percentage of alcohol content to help you remove any ingrained dirt successfully. The quality of your cleaning will determine how well the paint sticks to the plastic, so it’s worth spending the time to do this bit properly.

Next, it’s time to sandblast the surface. Try to use 80 grit aluminium oxide in your sandblaster as this will ensure a deep clean and will smooth the surface out. Sandblasting is the most effective way to clean the surface and remove any contaminants and will save you a lot of time. If you don’t have access to a sandblaster, try using sand paper, and scrub thoroughly again with a cleaner.  

After sanding, you will want to use a plastic cleaner to dissolve any remaining contaminants from the surface of the plastic fenders and body parts, which otherwise might prevent the paint from bonding properly to your ATV. Surface cleaners are widely available online and should clean and degrease the parts effectively. Spray a fairly thick layer of the cleaner onto the plastic and wait for it to work.

After waiting a few minutes for the cleaner to take effect, wipe it off using a paper towel or old rag. Then, after removing the cleaning spray, you’ll now want to look at using an adhesion promoter. An adhesion promoter is designed to help achieve the perfect adhesion of the film to the substrate. Using an adhesion promoter at this point will help to keep the paint sealed to the plastic and prevent it from chipping or peeling off in the future, so you’ll want to use couple of coats of this to ensure your efforts will stand the test of time.

There is a wide selection of affordably priced adhesion promoters available on Amazon, many of which come in an easy to use spray bottle, so you’ll just need to ensure that the one you pick is appropriate for use on plastic surfaces. 

Once this is dry, you’ll want to apply a high build primer. You’ll need to use this to fill in any imperfections in the plastic in order to hide any small scratches and create a smooth, polished texture. Using a primer at this stage will make your ATV look almost brand new. After the primer has dried, sand it down lightly using 320-400 grit sand paper. This is a really good thing to do as a lot of primers will produce a thin top coating as they dry, which should be removed to ensure the surface texture is clear and smooth, ready to apply the paint. If you want to maximize the durability of your handiwork, apply a flexible sealer over any plastic fenders or body parts that you have primed; this will help to protect the bodywork from the changing weather conditions it is likely to be exposed to. 

Always remember to wait until the sealer has dried completely before you start painting to ensure an even surface texture. You will need to double layer the paint, start with a base coat and then finish with a clear top coat. Your chosen top coat ideally should contain a flex additive to help the paint stick to the surface. In terms of the painting itself, baby steps tend to be best. Don’t apply too much paint at once as it is likely to run and will mean that you’ll have to re-apply it later on. Make sure you let the paint dry fully between layers. Don’t be tempted to rush this bit, as you might find that you’ll have to re-do it again at a later date if you do. 

It’s fair to say that both methods require a bit of time and effort, but if you follow the steps accordingly your ATV will look pristine by the end. 

How to paint your ATV in camouflage colors

If you’re looking to add a little something extra to your ATV, why not paint it with camouflage colors? This can be a really fun and effective pattern to create and shouldn't be too difficult to achieve. You’ll need three paint colors, usually a light color, a medium shade and a darker color to achieve the look. Popular camo colors include green, brown and black, but the choice is yours and you can really make it your own.

Start by drawing or tracing the camouflage pattern onto the plastic itself with a pencil so you’ve got a clear outline to work with. Once you’re happy with your design start painting with your lightest paint color and wait for it to dry before applying your next colors, going from light to dark. Two coats of paint are usually advisable to ensure it will be durable. Consider applying a clear top coat to your ATV after your camo design has dried to help bring the colors out. 

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