If you’re researching how to paint an RC car body, you’re obviously a hard-core RC driver and want your paint job to be unique and represent you. This blog post will discuss the best paints to use, how to scuff the body for better paint adhesion, and how to prepare the surface for painting. We’ll also show you some tips and tricks that will help you achieve a flawless finish on your RC car or truck!
Disclaimer: Before we start discussing painting, only paint your RC car body in a well-ventilated area and wear a NIOSH or MSHA approved respirator.
The Basics of Painting an RC car Body
Many RC car and truck bodies are made of a material called Lexan. Lexan is a sturdy plastic material that can bend and flex when you crash and roll over your vehicle.
If you are painting a Lexan body, make sure to use acrylic paints. Acrylic paints will adhere properly to Lexan plastic. Many RC car bodies are transparent, and you spray paint the inside of the car body with acrylic paint.
It is also best to use an airbrush to lay down the paint. An airbrush sprayer produces a narrow paint swath. With an airbrush, you can lay the paint down exactly where you want it.
What Tools Do I Need To Paint an RC Car Body
You will need masking tape, a hobby knife, an airbrush and compressor, acrylic paint, and decals for a very professional paint job.
The Airbrush and Compressor
Using an airbrush is the best way to lay down a precise and even layer of paint. Airbrushes produce a fine spray and have a very narrow swath. Using an airbrush will ensure you lay paint exactly where you want it. A kit like the one below would be perfect if you are new to painting with acrylic paints.
Hobby Knife and Masking Tape
A sharp hobby knife and masking tape will help you create whatever design you think of. Use the masking tape to block off sections of the RC car body you don’t want to paint at that moment. After the paint dries, you can use the knife to cut out shapes or help peel off the tape.
Acrylic Paint Kit
A nice set of acrylic paints will help get the paint scheme idea flowing. If you’re not very artistic like me, take a look online at different RC car paint schemes to get inspiration for your car.
Do I need to use a paint Primer?
You shouldn’t need to use a paint primer if you are painting a clear Lexan body from the inside. All you need to do is wash the car body with soap and water to remove any oils and debris. The acrylic paint will do its job and stick to the Lexan car body.
Steps To Paint Your RC Car Body
Prepping the Body
Take your car body to your sink and wash it with warm soapy water. This will remove any oil, dust, or other debris from the body. Make sure you get all the soap off and dry it with a paper towel. You can also use a blow dryer if you want to get all the water off.
Use Masking Tape To Create Designs
Masking off your RC car body is probably the hardest part of the process.
You need to mask off areas that you don’t want to be the primary color. this could be the cars fender wells, the hood, or any area that you want to create an accent shape or design with masking tape.
Pro Tip: you can use masking tape to help lay down straight or curved lines to add neat paint transitions. Use a hobby knife if you need to cut out any intricate designs in the masking tape.
Paint the Primary Color
Once you have the body masked off, you can start painting the primary color. Lay down paint in a smooth back and forth motion. Start at one end of the car and move in one direction to the other end. Do not swirl the paint applicator. Go left to right or vice versa in a uniform fashion.
Let the paint dry completely before adding another coat. If you want a darker color, lay down additional coats. If you want a more transparent look, lay down fewer coats.
Paint Accents Sections
Remove any masking tape that was covering up your secondary color sections. Then, paint them! it really is that easy. So, if you aren’t sure about how you want the car to look, spend extra time masking.
The best part about painting the inside of the car body is you can get your next color on the last color. What I mean here is it doesn’t hurt if you paint over the previous sections, and you don’t need to mask again. Since you are painting the inside of the body, anything that has already been painted is done, and you don’t have to worry if you accidentally get the next color on the previous color.
Applying the Decals
Once you have finished painting the inside of the car body, the last step (and a fun step) is to apply the decals. You will apply the decals to the outside of the car body. You could add a racing number, sponsorship decals, flames, or whatever your RC heart desires. Be sure to wipe down the outside of the body with an alcohol wipe to prepare the surface. Let the alcohol dry and then place the decal carefully.
Here is a nice decal kit from Amazon:
Watch this video below: “How-to RC Car Body Painting with Stickers: How to Paint an RC Car Body” (10 mins 48 secs)
What Are RC Car Bodies Made Of?
Lexan is the most popular material for RC car bodies. You can find clear RC car bodies that are made for custom paint jobs.
Composite bodies are made from fiberglass, carbon fiber, or Kevlar and can be found in many different colors. These are not suitable for painting.
ABS plastic- these are the least popular but are the most durable. You can paint these bodies but stick with Lexan.
What kind of paint do you use on RC Car bodies?
This is a common question, and a few different types of paints can be used on RC car bodies. But again, acrylic paint will be the best option for most use cases.
Acrylic Paint is by far the most popular choice to paint your RC car body. Acrylic paint is easy to use and can be found at most hobby stores.
While applying the paint, use light coats. Applying too much paint at once can cause the paint to run and ruin your paint job. My advice is to lay down more light coats and take your time. RC car bodies are expensive! So don’t rush through the painting process.
Enamel paint is another type of paint that can be used on RC car bodies. Enamel paint is more durable than acrylic paint and will last longer. They also give a smoother finish.
It is important to use a primer when painting with enamel paint. This will help the paint to adhere to the body and prevent it from chipping.
One downside of enamel paint is that it takes longer to dry than acrylic paint. Be sure to give your car’s body plenty of time to dry before driving it.
Do You Scuff RC Car Bodies Before Paint?
When painting a Lexan body, you do not need to scuff the body. You only need to wash the body to prepare it for paint. If you scuff the inside of the body, the finish will not look good. So, for Lexan, do not scuff!
However, scuffing the body is recommended if you want to use lacquer-based paints. Lacquer-based paints adhere best to rougher surfaces, so you will need to scuff the surface if you are using this type of paint.
You also won’t paint the inside of the body if you are using lacquer paints. You would scuff the outside of the body, prime it with paint primer, and then lay down the paint.
I don’t recommend using lacquer paint. I would stick Lexan bodies and acrylic paints.
Can you spray paint an RC Car body?
Yes, spray painting the RC body with traditional spray paint cans is an option. But, using large cans of spray paint won’t be nearly as easy as painting with an airbrush.
Spray paint cans won’t have a narrow paint swath like an airbrush. So you probably won’t want to use spray paint cans with an intricate design.
I could see acrylic spray paint cans working if you want to paint the car body one or two colors.
If you do decide to use spray paint cant, apply several light coats of paint rather than one heavy coat. paint comes out of the can fast and will run. So lay down a few light coats and make sure to let each coat dry before starting the next coat.
Allow each coat of paint to dry thoroughly before applying the next one. Follow these simple tips, and you’ll be able to give your RC car a whole new look.
How To Paint An RC Car Body FAQs
What kind of paint should I use for an RC car body?
How do I prepare the RC car body for painting?
Can I paint over decals on an RC car body?
What paint to use on Lexan RC body?
Conclusion How to paint an RC car body
Whether you’re trying to give your old RC car a new lease on life or you’re just looking to add a personal touch, painting your RC car body is a great way to do it. Just be sure to follow the tips and tricks outlined above, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving a perfect finish.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun with it. After all, that’s what this hobby is all about.