How to Dye or Paint Auto Vinyl

by Laure Justice

Painting auto vinyl is often a less expensive alternative to replacing upholstery and can transform old, faded or mismatched interiors to look like new.

How to Prep Auto Vinyl for Painting

Apply a heavy layer of vinyl prep spray directly onto the surface of the vinyl. The prep spray is a cleaning and softening agent. Wipe the residue from the vinyl with the rag. Let the surface dry completely.

Squeeze the vinyl patching compound out of the tube and into damaged spots in the vinyl. Press the graining pads into the surface of the compound. The graining pads are used to give the vinyl compound the same texture as the original vinyl.

Hold the can about a foot away from the vinyl and spray an even coat of the plastic adhesion promoter on the entire surface to be painted. You should use smooth and continuous motions to prevent run marks. Let the adhesion promoter dry completely.

Select a section of vinyl you can comfortably reach - for example, one door panel. Trying to spray a section that is too large will make it hard to spray in a smooth, continuous motion.

The color coat will normally come in a spray can. Keep the can a little over a foot away from the vinyl and spray in a smooth and continuous motion. Check that paint is distributed evenly. If there are any touch-ups required, apply a second coat immediately - before the first coat has dried completely, if possible.


  • check If you are spraying a piece that is wider than arm's length, spray from top to bottom instead of from side to side so you don't have to stop in mid=spray to move over. For example, a dashboard should be sprayed up and down rather than from door to door.
  • check If the piece you are painting is large, like a headliner, look for anything you can use - like a seam or the dome light - to help you divide it into smaller sections as you work on it.

Items you will need

About the Author

Laure Justice is a professional copywriter, since 2008. Justice has a broad-based business education, holding an AA in business administration and a Bachelor of Arts in management, plus certifications in accounting and international trade. She has written for GMC, Bounty Paper Towels, Purina's Petcentric, Colgate, Type F, Kudzu, eHow and many others.

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