DIY: Convertible Top Dye

by William Zane
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If you own a convertible and spend a lot of time with the top in the up position, where it is subject to bright sunlight, rain and other elements, it’s probably looking a bit faded. Installing a new top is always an option, but if your existing top is not torn and is structurally sound, then buying a new one might just be a waste of money. Dyeing a top is an option that many convertible car owners have taken advantage of.

Reasons for Dyeing a Top

There are a couple of reasons that one might want to consider dyeing a convertible top. The most common reason is that the material that the top is made of has faded or become dirty from years of being exposed to the elements. A faded convertible top can detract greatly from your car’s appearance. Dyeing the top instantly transforms it.

The other reason for dyeing a top is to alter the appearance of your vehicle. Suppose you own a vintage sports car with a nice tan top, but you don’t like the color and think it would look better in black or even a darker brown. You can dye the top a different color and, in the process, drastically alter the appearance of your vehicle. Just keep in mind that you cannot dye a darker color to a lighter color, but it is relatively easy to dye a lighter colored top to a darker color.

Types of Dye

There are several companies that offer dye for convertible tops. One of the criteria for deciding which type of dye to use is what material your top is made of. Most tops are made of either vinyl or cloth, with vinyl being more common and inexpensive. Both of these types of tops can be dyed with the proper approach and materials. If you have a vinyl top, then try Black-Top dye from Forever Black (see Resources section) For fabric tops, use a fabric dye like the kind that Rit makes (see Resources section).

How to Dye a Top

The first step in dyeing your convertible top is to clean it thoroughly. Use a mild soap and water. Soak the top with water and then scrub the top with a soft bristle brush that has been dipped in the soap and water, cleaning the entire surface of the top as thoroughly as possible. Once the top is cleaned, let it dry overnight or in sunlight.

Apply the top dye with a paint brush, starting in the middle and brushing it on evenly and in one direction onto the entire surface of the top. You may need to apply three or four coats to get complete and thorough coverage. When you dye your top, make sure that you mask off any of the areas near the car to avoid getting dye on them, and wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting dye on. Be sure that you leave the top in the up position for a few days after you dye it to ensure that the dye cures and fully soaks into the top.

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