A Rust-Oleum Paint Job


Finished painting the Dodge truck.


When I retired a couple of years ago I downsized some of the luxury items in my life. One was my F250 diesel four wheel drive off road mega nice pickup. I still need a pickup to haul my seven foot long recumbent trike, pull my 18 foot trailer or bring home lumber for those DIY projects. So I bought a low mileage 2001 Dodge 1500 with the customary Chrysler Corporation product  sun cracked dash and peeling clear coat. When I bought the truck I though I could always get a new paint job, pop in a new dash and replace the bench seat with some junkyard upper end bucket seats.  In my mind a new paint job would be the most noticeable upgrade. I was soon to find out that some paint jobs cost as much as I paid for the truck. Mid-range paint jobs were to cost between $900 and $1200 dollars. Still not where I wanted to be. I mean if you buy a budget truck it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on it.   I could put a $1200 paint job on this truck and the truck would still be worth what a 2001 Dodge truck is worth.

A couple of years ago while tooling around on You Tube I remembered seeing a video of someone painting their car with a paint roller. Well of course that’s absurd. But I though I would research some alternatives. Turns out there are a lot of people whom have painted their car with a paint roller. The Mopart forum,  has the longest thread on the subject I have seen. In fact,  the longest thread on any subject I have seen. It spans several years with thousands of post. The admin broke this thread into three threads, this link is the last thread. You can read back as far as you like for information.    You Tube also has many how-to videos on the subject.


I started here preping the truck. That included sanding and sanding and sanding.

I read all the information on the subject I could find. Good and bad. The range ran from if you paint your car with Rust-oleum it will ruin you vehicle forever to accounts of cars where the paint had held up for 8 years and still looked good. After reading all the pros and cons, my DIY spirit decided to to do the “$50 Rust-oleum paint job” on my truck. My DIY spirit has got me in trouble before and I had to call in the pros to get my project finished. Like when I put a new roof on my house. . .  in the summer. . . in Texas. My kids still hate me for that project.

My reasoning to do the job was based on the following. I didn’t want to spend much money on this truck. I mentally set a budget of $100. If it doesn’t work out, it will not be anymore trouble to prep it for another spray on job than it was to sand off this lousy factory paint. I didn’t have any of the equipment to spray the paint. I didn’t have an indoor place to spray. I also didn’t think my experience from spraying lacquer on cars from the 1950’s would go very far with modern day paints.


I then rolled on 8 coats of a special color mix of Rust-Oleum gray enamel paint.

I’m not going to write about the process of rolling on enamel paint. There is already plenty of documentation on the subject.  I’ll write more of my experiences of doing it under the conditions that I did it and what I would do differently if I were to do it again.

There was a period of time where this just wasn’t working for me. Everything I read said to mix the paint 50/50 with mineral spirits and roll 6 to 8 thin layers of paint sanding between every two layers. I was having to do too much sanding between the layers. Finally, one day with a bit of frustration, I mixed 80% paint and 20% paint thinner and put on a very heavy coat of paint. It was getting late in the day and I turned in hoping tomorrow would be a better day. The next morning I found a very glossy, smooth finish on my truck that required almost no sanding. The self leveling qualities of the paint had kicked  in and for the first time I had some confidence that I was going to have a nice looking paint job.  A couple of coats later I was finished.

Bed nearing completionI think the reason for the success of the heavy coat lies in the flash dry time. I’m painting outdoors in the summer time (June) in Texas on windy days. The heavy coat has more time to self level. When I say heavy, I mean heavy to the point of almost getting runs. I don’t know how to explain paint sag, but almost to that point. I sanded just enough between lays to rough up the surface so the next layer of paint would stick. Worked for me.

If I had a choice I would have been working indoors but here on the farm my work area was under a shade tree. As it turned out, this was not nearly the problem that I expected. Each morning before I started working I would soak a hand towel in mineral spirits and wipe the pollen off the truck. A couple of times a bug would find it’s way onto the paint before it had dried to touch but what little damage there was sanded out easily.

Glossy Bed

I sanded with 800 grit between every 2 coates and then used 1000 and 1500 grit on the final coat. Then Turtle Wax rubbing compound and Turtle Wax polishing compound.

There are a couple of things I would do differently if I had it to do over again. I would spend more time on prep before painting.  After I had started painting I could see every uneven spot on the truck, things that I had not noticed before that first coat of paint. There was a little hail damage that I didn’t see before the first coat of paint. I had feathered out the edges of the old clear coat and I though they would not show when painted. They did. After a couple of coats of paint I stopped and re-sanded the hood and front finders.

Well, painting is finished. I’ll wait for a couple of weeks while the paint cures and then to a final sanding working my way from 800/1000/1500 and then buff. Until then, the truck is living outdoors and spending much of it’s new life in the sun.

I’ll report back with pictures after the final sanding.

7/10/2014 I’m to the point now where I’m waiting 3 weeks for the paint to cure. Yes, all the trim and lights has been put back on and I can drive the truck while I’m waiting. I plan on doing something with the dash while I’m waiting. Yes it has one of those infamous dashes made with inferior materials.  I did sand down a small area on the bed and rub it out by hand just to see what it will look like. Looks great except I don’t like the color I choose. Oh well.


Rust-Oleum Bed Liner rolled on. Seems like really tough stuff.

While waiting I decided to roll in the Rust-Oleum Bed Liner. Walmart carries it in a kit for $80 or a gallon for $45 dollars. I decided to get the gallon and buy the other rollers, sand paper and brushes separate.  I saved about $10 buying it separate. I’m very pleased with the Rust-oleum Bed Liner and it’s appearance. This is not an easy job. I spent several hours on my knees preparing the bed and rolling on the bed liner. It was not an easy job or maybe it’s just my age. I am glad I did it and the appearance of the truck was improved.

At my age and condition this was not an easy project but if a 70 year old with congestive heart failure and COPD can get it finished I would think anyone could do the job. I’ll admit, it was hard work.


More to follow soon.


5 comments on “A Rust-Oleum Paint Job

  1. That’s pretty cool. I have an old beater dodge Dakota that I’ve been contemplating doing something with. I figured it might be pretty straightforward, mine’s black.. mostly. Only paid $800, so I can understand where you’re coming from. I drive this one every day, it works fine, just ugly as homemade soap. I just might give this a go… Wouldn’t hurt it, that’s for sure!

  2. I’m just about to start painting my 2000 Ford Explorer. Using (in various places) Rustoleum Forged Hammered Black (body), Rustoleum Truck Bed (Grill, front bumper, edge of hood, top of rear bumper), Possibly Gloss black on wheels.

    Thank you for your pictures and adventures.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s