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How to Repaint a License Plate

by Robert Russell

The paint on license plates ages and suffers damage like the paint on any other metal surface. When bare metal is exposed it quickly begins to rust and deteriorate. If the paint on your license plates begins to crack or peel, or if your are interested in restoring vintage license plates for a classic car, repainting the license plate is something that you can easily do. Repainting a license plate involves several steps to ensure a top-quality job.

Purchase a chemical paint stripper. Various paint strippers are available at hardware, paint and home supply stores. Select a chemical stripper recommended for metal objects.

Remove the old paint from the license plate with the chemical stripper. Read the instructions before applying the stripper. Wear gloves and work outside or in a well-ventilated area. Apply the stripper and allow it to penetrate the paint on the license plate for the recommended time. Scrape the old paint off with steel wool, abrasive pads and old rags. Rinse the license plate with clean water and allow it to air dry completely.

Apply a self-etching primer to the license plate. Fresh paint does not adhere well to bare metal. Self-etching primer is available at auto parts stores or paint stores in spray can form. Lay the license plate on a flat surface. Hold the spray nozzle 8 inches above the license plate, and apply a light smooth coat. Allow the primer to dry, and apply a second coat if necessary. It is important that all the metal is covered.

Apply the base color with an epoxy paint. Epoxy paint is more durable than latex. It is also available in a spray can form. Apply several light coats, allowing for drying time between applications. Applying several light coats rather than one heavy coat provides a smoother finish and avoids heavy spots and runs. Allow the base coat to dry completely.

Paint the numbers, letters and other details with a small bristle brush and epoxy paint. All the numbers and details are raised, which makes the job easier. Apply the paint carefully and slowly. Wipe off drips and runs with a clean rag and rubbing alcohol. Allow the paint to dry completely.

Apply a clear coat to the license plate to protect the new paint job. Clear coat is also available in spray can form at auto parts and hardware stores. Hold the nozzle 8 inches above the license plate and apply a smooth, even coat. Allow the clear coat to dry.

Items you will need

About the Author

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.

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