Your Guide to a Successful Dash Pad Color Change

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Ok so here are the directions on changing the color of your dash pad manufactured at Rhino Fabrication.
First, our American Craftsmen here at Rhino Fabrication use no silicone in our shop what so ever. The absence of silicone helps keep the surface of the vinyl free of nasty stuff that could possibly screw up your attempt at a great color change on the padded dash you purchased for your classic vehicle. With that being said, remember that by now you have probably opened the package from Rhino Fabrication containing your new dash pad. In doing so you have slightly contaminated the PVC skin surface you will be wanting to color. Don’t panic, this is one of the reasons that we suggest you clean the pad thoroughly so that those finger prints containing lotion, hand cleaner or other strange substances don’t show up later on the finished replacement dash pad.

You will need the following materials to make your color change:
-Masking materials.
-PVC vinyl dye.
-Vinyl prep spray and or vinyl colored primer.
-A mild cleaner.

You also will need some patience and finesse to achieve quality results. This is not a difficult procedure, but like anything else the amount of effort you invest will be apparent in the end result.

Keep in mind that the products you will be using for this color change are far different than what you may have used 20 years ago and the results will also reflect the newer more advanced materials on the market today. Color change on vinyl and plastic was at best very poor in the past, but today it is an easy, and can be a very successful process that does not need to cause you anxiety and frustration any longer.

You may choose to use a colored vinyl primer to reduce the number of color coats that is required to achieve your finished look. The primer is highly recommended as my first choice in color matching and produces excellent visual results. The grain on your dash pad will look fantastic unless you apply too many color coats. The primer allows for fewer color coats in the application process. Too many coats will fill in the grain detail and ruin the cosmetic appeal that we have worked so hard to deliver to you. If the primer is used you may elect to not use the prep spray but I still personally recommend both. It is not worth saving $12 on the prep spray and risk a quality job on a $300 pad. Remember, you will most likely be the one staring at the pad you install so spare no effort or expense.

You may have heard me say it before but prepare your dash pad in a comfortable environment out of the direct sunlight. This is very important because sunlight or extreme heat will ruin an uninstalled pad in a very short time.

Ok now on to the process of color change. Clean the surface with a wax and grease remover, you can get something like DX330 by PPG or use a mild detergent that leaves no residue after use.

After you have cleaned the surface and it is completely dry you should apply a very light coat of vinyl prep spray. This is a clear spray that softens the surface so that the vinyl spray will attach itself deeply into the substrate or vinyl skin. I prefer SEM products because of the spray patterns and the color consistency they offer. You may choose another product other than SEM that you are comfortable with. There are multiple manufacturers of color spray on the market; I’m simply stating what I prefer. Let the prep spray tack out and while sticky apply a second, heavier coat. Don’t allow the prep spray to run or sag.

Now is the time for you to decide if you wish to use a primer coat to help with your color change process. If you choose a primer, now is the time to apply the first coat of that primer. I have talked to customers that use a primer coat in place of the prep spray, this decision is completely up to you. Excellent results have been achieved either way.
When your second coat is freshly dry apply the primer you have chosen or the first coat of color. This will be a mist coat only, remember we are building coats slowly and filling in the color as we build. Do not attempt to achieve a color change in one or two coats. It may take a few or so depending on the change you are trying to achieve.
As each coat tacks out apply another over the top. You will begin to see the coats fill and blend to each other. Each coat gets a bit heavier and nicer to look at. If you continue to do this procedure you will end up with a really nice looking end result. After you get the color match you are satisfied with allow the dash pad to cure at least overnight in a warm 68-70 degree climate. This will allow the pad to off Gas the solvents in the dye applied and dry completely. The last thing you want to attempt is to install a pad that is not cured completely and create scratches in the pad during the installation process.

REMEMBER THIS: DO NOT ALLOW THE PAD TO SIT UNSUPPORTED OR IN THE SUNLIGHT PRIOR TO INSTALLATION. These pads are very stable after they are correctly installed but if not well cared for before the install, they will distort terribly. Even leaving one of the pads on the workbench by a window can prove disastrous. The foam wants to go one way and the vinyl always wants to go the other. This is the reason that during installation of your Rhino Fabrication Dash Pad the complete perimeter of the pad needs to be secured using adhesive and or mechanical means.
On another note I suggest the SB-WEBAD spray adhesive manufactured by Cascade Audio Engineering. It is great stuff but sometimes hard to find. Usually available through stereo type stores as it is designed for sound systems. If you can’t find that use 3M headliner adhesive. The 3M product is readily available and works well in the temperature range that your vintage or classic car or truck will experience.

l hope this helps some. If you get to a point where you have a question, call me. I don’t mind answering a few questions rather than have you ruin your beautiful dash pad during installation.
Good luck,
Owner / Rhino Fabrication


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