One of the first mods I did to my E92 was swapping out the stock grills (the ones with chrome rings) for a matte black set. This prompted me to paint my lower grills flat black to match, and I continued to swap everything to either body color or flat black. Eventually, the only thing I had left that didn't match was my window trim.
First, I looked into purchasing the actual black trim pieces from BMW. Turns out they cost a boatload and they're somewhat of a pain to install. Next, I looked into vinyl wrapping the trim. I attempted to do this, but unfortunately I am awful at arts & crafts and all I managed to do was ruin a bunch of vinyl and give my neighbors a good laugh. I was going to get some quotes from paint shops to have the trim painted, when someone suggested Plastidip.
Plastidip is spoken about quite a bit by auto modder types. I have read of people Plastidipping wheels, trim, even entire cars. I never knew exactly what plastidip was, but I assumed it was just a paint that dried to a rubbery texture. I was totally unaware of how awesome this stuff really is. The number one thing you should know about Plastidip is that it's 100% removable. It honestly would just come right off with minimal effort, and would leave the surface underneath perfectly clean like it was never there. I didn't believe that part at first either, but I will show you some pics later that demonstrate how easily it comes off.
This DIY will show you how to use Plastidip to coat your window trim and your badges. I used matte black, but this stuff comes in lots of colors and this technique will work no matter which color you choose.
Prep the car. Wash the car so that all the surface debris is off of the chrome. I used 2" painter's tape (that blue papery tape) and paper to cover everything around my chrome. I still had some overspray, which you will see later isn't all that big a deal. Cleanup is a little easier if you mask everything off well from the start, so take the time and do it right.
Like I said above, I suck at arts & crafts. I've never "masked anything off" before in my life. If I can do it, you can do it guaranteed.
So, you're probably looking at that and saying "Hey, wait a minute! You taped off all around the window but the paint is still exposed!"
Yes, I did! That's intentional! You are going to want to do the same. You might think the goal is to tape off everything except the chrome. The problem is, if you were to do so, the Plastidip would possibly come off of the edges of the trim when you pull the tape. Also, it's very difficult to tape it so very perfectly. Our intent here is to purposefully overspray onto the paint. I know, you probably think I'm crazy. Keep reading, and you will see that this is by far the best method. When you go to remove your tape later, you'll see why this is a good idea.
The "inside" of the window (where the glass is) obviously doesn't have any paint. What it does have is a rubber gasket going all around. Put the tape about halfway up onto this rubber. When you're actually doing it, you'll see what I mean. I tried to get a good picture here to demonstrate.
Since I'm doing my badges too, I masked off an area around them too, like so.
Apply the first coat of Plastidip. Now, as I have said repeatedly throughout this post, I suck at arts & crafts. I'm going to be honest with you guys... before today, I never spray painted anything, ever. Yes, really. My technique sucked and I made some mistakes. They don't really show in these pics, but I'm going to tell you what I did wrong so you can avoid the same mistakes I made.
First and foremost, make sure you're holding the can of Plastidip about 6-8 inches away from the surface. I was holding it too close, and this resulted in a few drips.
I'm probably going to redo that section just because I'm super picky (as I imagine most of you probably are too.) Don't let this put you off on the project. Just be mindful of it.
Next, don't put too much of the Plastidip on at a time.
The first coat should be a very thing dusting. I put way too much on. This probably lead to my drip problem as well. When you first start spraying, the black spots on the chrome trim are going to look "kind of funny." I know, that isn't exactly a technical term. I guess the best thing I could say is that it looked like it was "beading up" on the chrome and not covering. This caused me to apply too much on the first coat, like I said. In retrospect, I would have applied a much thinnner/lighter first coat
and that probably would have eliminated my issue.
Make sure to keep your hand moving back and forth whenever you're spraying and don't hold the can in one place for too long.
This will cause drips too.
Finally, remember to hit the chrome from all angles
. The window trim is "raised" a little bit off the car, so you're going to want to shoot "down" at it a little bit on a few of your passes to make sure the top is covered. If you're doing your badges too (like I did) you'll want to hold the can at a few different angles as well, to make sure there aren't any "bald spots" when you view the badges from another angle (i.e. from the side or from below.)
See the drips? That's because I held the can too close. Don't do that!
I only posted a few of my pics, but you need to apply at least 4 coats
of Plastidip. You should wait 10-20 minutes between coats
! I waited about 10, but remember I had some drips in mine. Again, learn from my mistakes
. 20 minutes probably would have been a better idea, and that's what I'll do next time.
Removing the tape. OK, the moment of truth is nearly upon us. The key words here are "slow, even pressure."
Take off your masking very slowly and very carefully. Leave the little lip of plastidip around the edge of the chrome. We'll be removing it next.
Once you have most of your masking materials removed, you'll be left with some ragged edges of plastidip all around the window that will need to be fixed up. We're going to do that next!
Remember how we taped about halfway up this rubber gasket? When you take the tape off, you'll probably have these little raggedy edges of plastidip on the half of the gasket that wasn't taped. That's normal! We'll get it in a few minutes.
You're going to have Plastidip all around the painted surface where we intentionally oversprayed it. This is a good thing!
Cleanup and removal of excess Plastidip. Ok, it's time to get that oversprayed Plastidip off your paint. Find an edge and "roll it" with your finger to make it lift off the car. This is very easy to do. Now, again, remeber those key words "Slow, even pressure."
As you lift the Plastidip, it will tear itself perfectly along the edge of the trim, leaving you a far better line than you ever could have achieved by taping. The paint under the plastidip is perfectly fine, and you'll never know there was Plastidip on it.
Just roll the edge under your finger, it'll lift right up and you can pull it.
It's very stretchy. This stuff is pretty much spray on rubber.
It pulls off perfectly leaving a clean edge.
The best way I can describe this stuff is by saying it's a little bit like stretching the tape in an old audio cassette, though it's far more fragile and snaps much more easily.
WAYS YOU CAN MESS THIS PART UP:
If you pull the material too fast or too hard, you'll pull it off of the chrome trim. This is somewhat difficult to do when removing the excess around the top and sides of the window, but it's pretty easy to do along the flat bottom edge. That edge is not raised like the others, so the Plastidip doesn't cut along there as easily. You need to use extreme caution when removing that excess from the bottom of the windows!
Also, that little corner where the flat chrome meets the curved chrome (behind your mirrors) is a bit of an awkward spot and you need to be really careful with it. Again, it's easy to pull too much off and expose the chrome underneath by accident. Go very slowly and be careful. If you pull to much off it's not the end of the world. Just retape that area and respray that part. It's no big deal really. You can pull this stuff off and reapply it a hundred times. It won't do any harm, it just takes up some of your time.
Cleaning up the leftovers. You will undoubtedly have some little raggedy bits of Plastidip hanging around. One place you'll have them for sure is on that rubber gasket around the window seal. You'll need a small, thin, flat instrument to finesse those last little bits of of there. I used a guitar pick, but a toothpick would work too. You need to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL when you do this part! If you aren't, you're going to accidentally take off some Plastidip from an area where you want it, exposing a little bit of chrome underneath. Again, it's not the end of the world if that happens, but you'll have to respray it and that's a pain in the butt. Like I said, slow and steady. It comes off the rubber gasket just as easily as it came off the paint, but it's much thinner there (which is why I left such a wide strip of exposed paint, to make a big enough piece of Plastidrip to tug when it was dry.
Slowly but surely. That's the key. A toothpick will probably do just as well.
Same goes for the badges. It's very easy to screw this up, and nick the side of one of the numbers leaving a shiny chrome spot. Go extremely slowly and your patience will be rewarded.
Cleanup. Unless you did an amazing job masking off your car (and probably even if you did) you're going to have at least a little bit of overspray. This is no big deal. If you rub it, it'll bead up and come right off. You can also put a little bit of GooGone on a cloth and clean the car in these areas to make sure there's no leftover adhesive. (GooGone is just a chemical that removes glues and adhesives and road tar and stuff. You can buy it wherever you buy car washing stuff.)
Now you see it...
Now you don't!
Don't spray too much per coat!
Keep the can 6-8" away from the surface and keep it in motion when spraying!
Remove the tape/excess Plastidip slowly and you'll have better results!
Apply AT LEAST 4 COATS! If it's too thin it won't cover well, and you'll probably tear it when you're removing
If you screw it up just tear it all off and start over! This stuff is only like 6 bucks for a can. That and the time you spend working on it are pretty much all this will cost you.
Finally, for those who wonder how well this stuff holds up to normal use, I can't answer that question. This was my first experiment with Plastidip, and I have no idea how well it will hold up. The website states: It protects coated items against moisture, acids, abrasion, corrosion, and skidding/slipping, and provides a comfortable, controlled grip. Plasti Dip remains flexible and stretchy over time, and will not crack or become brittle in extreme weather conditions. It has been tested and proven in temperatures from -30°F
I know people Plastidip their wheels to protect them from road salt and brake dust, so that leads me to believe it's pretty resiliant. If anybody wants to comment on this, please feel free!
Good luck with your dipping!
It has been almost a year since I posted this DIY. A few months ago I ended up removing the plastidip from my window trim and having a shop vinyl wrap it, but that was only because I decided I wanted the trim to be gloss black instead of flat black. I had my roof wrapped in gloss black, and decided I wanted the trim to match it. The plastidip window trim held up 100% perfectly right up till the day I peeled it off, quite a long time after posting this thread. The trim and paint underneath was still perfect, and you would never know there had been plastidip there.
The badges on the back of my car are still dipped from the day I made this DIY. They still look just as good as the day I did it. This is a car that has been washed countless times, usually with a high pressure sprayer at least once per week. It has also been subjected to snow, road salt, low temperatures, high temperatures, you name it. Despite all of that, it still looks like it came black from the factory!