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How to Paint a Metal Bumper

by William Zane

If not properly cared for, over time metal car and truck bumpers can get rusty and dingy looking. Painting a metal bumper on a car is a quick and easy way to improve the appearance of the vehicle's exterior and takes a minimum of supplies and expertise.

If the bumper is still mounted to the car, remove it to make the painting process easier.

Strip existing paint from the bumper with paint stripper. Apply the stripper and allow it to soak into the paint for 10 to 15 minutes. Scrape the paint off with a plastic scraper. Repeat until all of the paint is removed.

Scuff the bumper with 220-grit sandpaper.

Wipe the bumper thoroughly with mineral spirits and a clean, lint free rag. Repeat until the surfaces are entirely clean. This is a crucial, as a clean surface will ensure that the paint adheres.

Spray on a light coat of primer. Let the primer dry for a minute or so and then apply three to four coats.

Wet-sand the bumper with 220-grit sandpaper. Wipe the bumper with mineral spirits until is clean again.

Spray on a light coat of paint. Let the paint dry for a minute or so and then apply three to four coats.

Wet sand with 220-grit, 400-grit and 800-grit sandpaper. If a smoother finish is desired, you can also use 1500-grit and 2000-grit wet sandpaper.

Refit the bumper to the car if it was removed.


  • You can paint the bumper without removing it from the car, but it is more difficult. If you opt to leave the bumper on, use masking tape to protect areas that you don't want painted.

Items you will need

About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.

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