Painting an airplane is much the same as painting an automobile. It’s just a lot bigger! The process of painting an airplane can last from a few days to a few weeks. There are basically three layers used in painting an airplane – the primer, base coat, and the top coat. The latter of which gives the plane a shiny appearance.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- SPI Epoxy Activator & Primer
- Clear Coat
- Paint Gun - Option Available Here
- Paint Mixing Cups - Option Available Here
- Mask Respirator - Option Available Here
- Scotchbrite Pads - Option Available Here
- Clean Microfiber Cloths
- Rubber Gloves - Option Available Here
- Painting Suit - Option Available Here
- Lacquer Thinner
- Wax & Grease Remover
Clean the aluminium panel using a scotchbrite pad and soapy water. Wipe off with a clean rag and allow to dry.
Using Wax & Grease Remover coat the panel and wipe over with a clean, dry microfibre cloth.
Primer. Mix the primer and epoxy activator according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Wait 30 minutes before spraying to allow the mix to cure, then spray the panel and allow to dry.
Paint. Again, mix the paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Begin by painting the outer edges, the top, and the bottom, then covering the larger areas. Three coats of paint are usually required, allowing drying time between coats.
Apply two or three coats of clear coat for a shiny finish.
Why are Airplanes Painted at All?
You may be wondering at this point why airplanes are painted in the first place. After all, large metal planes can be quite attractive even without a paint job. The answer makes a lot of sense. Airplanes are painted when they’re brand new because the paint protects against salts, oxidation, and spills of jet fuel that can do the metal harm.
Of course, after the paint job is complete, the paint itself can form cracks and chips that are prone to collect moisture and dirt and therefore develop corrosion spots. This is why painting every 7-10 years is so important. In addition, the area between the metal of the plane and the paint itself can erode and even cause things like worm corrosion, but regular paint jobs can prevent this from happening. Because of all these things, it is simply a smart idea for many reasons to keep your kit airplane painted and touch it up with a new paint job on a regular basis.