Plasti Dip began in the 1970s as a rubberized coating to improve grip for hand tools. Back then, you'd dip pliers, screwdrivers, and other small gadgets into a can of the stuff. Today, its use has expanded, including as an aerosolized material that can be applied to car exteriors and wheels.
The dip your car movement began about ten years ago when Plasti Dip was adapted as a car covering by an independent company, DipYourCar.
There are many reasons for covering a car's factory finish:
- Hide blemishes and imperfections
- Protect the existing paint
- Desire for a new but non-permanent exterior finish
Vinyl wrapping is certainly one way to cover a car, but with costs starting around $2,000 for a smaller car and costing several times this amount for larger vehicles, it's not an approach that's right for every situation. This is where Plasti Dip for a car comes in.
Plasti Dip is appealing because of its lower cost and that it's a DIY project that doesn't require a detail shop with skilled staff (like vinyl wraps do). Also, while most vehicle mods require some mechanical knowledge, Plasti Dip can be applied by just about anyone who can handle a spray can or pressurized spray system. And, if properly used, removing Plasti Dip is painless.
Where to Use Plasti Dip on a Car
It's really up to the individual car owner about where and how to use Plasti Dip.
Wheels: Plasti Dip use on wheels is common. Here, you can change the look of your car without a lot of effort or money. Plasti Dip won't protect against significant curb rash but it offers some relief against minor scratches.
Front End: Another frequent area for Plasti Dip is the front end, protecting the bumper, grille, and leading edge of the hood. The company makes a clear product as well as numerous color options.
Emblems and Trim: Applying Plasti Dip to exterior accents is a fun project that's also simple to reverse.
Body Panels: Applying Plasti Dip to body panels does require more practice and skill (see tips below), but it still can be a DIY project. It's easy to envision a truck or SUV with Plasti Dip fenders or a coupe with a blacked-out roof treatment. Of course, covering an entire vehicle in Plasti Dip is possible.
What Is a Plasti Dip Car Kit?
Plasti Dip offers a wide variety of products that are packaged for specific projects. These include kits for just wheels or emblems and a car kit to cover the entire vehicle. The company also offers options for pearl and flake treatments.
Going with an applicable kit is often more straightforward than figuring out what individual products you need.
What Does Plasti Dip for a Car Cost?
Prices will vary based on what you want to cover. So, individual aerosol cans will run from $8 to $15, while a kit for four wheels costs from $75 to $90.
Plasti Dip car kits start around $250 and will hit $700 for large vehicles. Double the costs for car kits that include more elaborate coats, including color-shifting finishes.
Keep in mind that Plasti Dip is different from other paint protection methods like ceramic coating.
Tips for Using Plasti Dip
Of course, follow the directions for each Plasti Dip product, but here's some other information that may be useful.
Practice: The expression "practice makes perfect" is especially true with Plasti Dip products. Try your skills on a test surface first before going to work on your car. Consider picking up a clean fender from a junkyard for a real-world test if you'll be covering body panels.
Prepare: A paint job is only as good as the preparation. So, take the time to clean the surface. Soap and water are a good start, but you'll want to use one of Plasti Dip's pre-treatment products to remove wax and other residue.
Six Coats: Plasti Dip performs best with six coats of treatment. Not only will this amount of product allow for easy removal, but you'll get smooth, even coverage. Start with one very light coat. Wait 15 minutes and apply a slightly thicker coat so you can no longer see the original paint. Next, wait 30-40 minutes before applying additional coats, which can be thicker. However, don't apply Plasti Dip so thick that it runs.
Separate the Parts: When practical, remove trim and other parts that you want to cover. This approach makes for cleaner coverage (you won't have to remove overspray or tape off adjoining areas). Please, it will be easy to get coverage in crevices and other hard-to-get-to areas.
Respect the Can: Your Plasti Dip application is dependent on how well you handle the can. So, shake it frequently and don't press the nozzle too long. Consider rotating cans every couple of minutes to avoid clogged nozzles with larger projects. At the same time, spray from different angles to ensure complete coverage. Follow the recommended distance of 4-5 inches for a smoother finish, while a greater distance will produce a more textured appearance. Importantly, stop spraying if you see the nozzle getting clogged or the surface becomes runny.
Avoid Extremes: Don't apply Plasti Dip during extremely hot or cold weather or when there's high humidity.
Have Patience: It can take up to 48 hours for the treated area to cure and be safe to touch. So, wait for at least this long before re-attaching any covered parts. You'll want to wait at least a week before washing a Plasti Dip-covered surface. Consider using the company's line of cleaning and aftercare products for better longevity of the covered area. Remember, hand washing is best.
Keep Extra on Standby: You'll want to have extra Plasti Dip on hand during the initial application. You're likely to use more as you get used to the process, and you can easily treat the inevitable nicks and scrapes that will appear later on.
Use a Basecoat: To prevent show-through and help with a more accurate final color, apply a light grey base coat if you're covering dark factory paint with light-colored Plasti Dip.
Use a Topcoat: Consider using a topcoat for a glossy finish or pearlescent or flake look.
Skip the Can: For larger surfaces, including an entire vehicle exterior, bypass the aerosol cans. Instead, use a pressurized spray system for more consistent results and less wear and tear on your nozzle finger. Plasti Dip sells these more capable sprayers, or you may be able to locally rent an appropriate system.