Surface paint / refinishing with matte color
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Old 12-11-2011, 02:37 PM   #1
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Default Surface paint / refinishing with matte color

Has anyone here had any experience with refinishing their AR upper or lower receivers? Most of them are coated by the manufacturer, and I'm not sure how well a paint would stick to it.

I would like to put a matte finish in a stripe gray/black camo over the handguard, receiver, barrel, stock, etc. I can imagine spraypaint is just going to flake or smudge off and make a big sticky mess, not to mention making the serial numbers illegible. Gun coats are typically shiny and I don't see it adhering to coated aluminum very well. Maybe if I removed the finish, but that might compromise the material, I would think.

Don't have any experience with this, but I don't want the shine. A solid matte color would work if anything.

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Old 12-11-2011, 04:33 PM   #2
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While I haven't personally done it, there are many people who have. Krylon camo paint is going to be the cheapest way. It's matte and it doesn't smudge, but it does scratch off pretty easily.

Duracoat is what most people do, and it holds up fairly well. Until recently, you had to have a spray gun, but now they have a kit that comes with an aerosol can, and it can be bought in a about a million different colors, most of them matte. You can check it out on their website. I believe it's Lauer Custom Weaponry:

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Old 12-11-2011, 11:31 PM   #3
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That might just work good enough. Thanks

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Old 12-11-2011, 11:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by triggernomic
Has anyone here had any experience with refinishing their AR upper or lower receivers? Most of them are coated by the manufacturer, and I'm not sure how well a paint would stick to it.

I would like to put a matte finish in a stripe gray/black camo over the handguard, receiver, barrel, stock, etc. I can imagine spraypaint is just going to flake or smudge off and make a big sticky mess, not to mention making the serial numbers illegible. Gun coats are typically shiny and I don't see it adhering to coated aluminum very well. Maybe if I removed the finish, but that might compromise the material, I would think.

Don't have any experience with this, but I don't want the shine. A solid matte color would work if anything.
What about the finish would be compromised if you stripped the original off?

If you are taking it down to the raw material, you will be fine as long as you apply a primer/seal coat. You can use a spray paint and not worry about it rubbing or chipping off, given that the surface itself has been properly prepared. I just painted my SKS in a matte O.D. green using aerosol paint and primer. No issues as of yet.

I am a professional painter (automotive and industrial equipment) if I can help in any way.. id be glad to help.
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Old 12-11-2011, 11:53 PM   #5
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Wire wheel/brush it down to bare metal then clear coat it. Buy the krylon paint or duracoat put it on and bake it in using an over or something similar and there you go.

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Old 12-12-2011, 02:12 AM   #6
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DO not take the original finish off, don't even scuff it up, just paint over it. That way if you decide to take the paint off or it wears off you'll be GTG. Just use a degreaser before refinishing.

I've refinished a couple ARs, a Kimber, and a Glock and have been happy using Brownells AlumaHydeII.

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Old 12-12-2011, 02:28 PM   #7
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ARs and accessories pose real challenges when properly refinishing. The finish you see on most parts and accessories is a dye that the anodize part was dipped in. Some dyes are good and some not so good - just like the anodizing. Anodizing aluminum (in its simplest explanation) is growing a hard skin on the metal surface using power and chemicals. That's why your aluminum rails will take much more abuse than raw lump of aluminum. This skin needs to be prepped without being totally compromised or you'll have soft spots on the receivers and accessories.

I'm talking in a purely commercial fashion here as I know hundreds of folks have painted their guns, but I have been doing this for a living since 2003 when I started applying DuraCoat.

The rifle needs complete degreasing, and complete disassembly is even better. Just a little missed oil will ruin your finis whether it's DuraCoat, CeraKote, GunKote, doesn't matter - surface prep is the most important step you'll have. Ideally the parts would then be abrasive blasted with aluminum oxide which is outside the reach of most home garages. You can lightly scuff the parts but don't make them too smooth. The coatings need something to stick to and super smooth surfaces aren't very conducive if you want long term results. If you get too smooth you can use a cold phosphorus coating first and then use your colors. I haven't used the little handheld hobby pack DuraCoat sells, but if you do, be sure to understand and follow the instructions completely.

Once the parts are coated, cured, reassembled and lubed you can do whatever you like with the gun as it will be every bit as durable or more so than the original finish if it was properly applied. The engravings and serial numbers will still be clean and sharp if done properly.

Flat or shiny. DuraCoat comes in flat and can be made flatter. Why does everyone's finish look shiny like you mentioned? Because we're trying to sell it and flat finishes don't photograph nearly as well as shiny ones. I'll rub some RemOil or DuraCoat Trulube into my flat finishes for photo sessions, and then just degrease the finish when I'm done if desired. A truly dead flat finish has many advantages, but being attractive isn't usually one of them. The eye like the little bit of shine and contrasts.

Properly refinishing your rifle should not be done in haste. gather all your tools and supplies, study the instructions, prepare a space, the better your finish is applied the better it will last. Anyone can buy these products, so you have an idea of what pros like me are paying for the products. The real cost when you look at my charges for coating is the labor involved. I don't care if you only spent $5.00 on Krylon - do the job right and you'll be rewarded with results in line with the product and labor you chose.

Sorry for the length - I get carried away about proper coatings and this only scratches the surfaces of stuff to know about it.

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Old 12-12-2011, 05:52 PM   #8
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ARs and accessories pose real challenges when properly refinishing. The finish you see on most parts and accessories is a dye that the anodize part was dipped in. Some dyes are good and some not so good - just like the anodizing. Anodizing aluminum (in its simplest explanation) is growing a hard skin on the metal surface using power and chemicals. That's why your aluminum rails will take much more abuse than raw lump of aluminum. This skin needs to be prepped without being totally compromised or you'll have soft spots on the receivers and accessories.

I'm talking in a purely commercial fashion here as I know hundreds of folks have painted their guns, but I have been doing this for a living since 2003 when I started applying DuraCoat.

The rifle needs complete degreasing, and complete disassembly is even better. Just a little missed oil will ruin your finis whether it's DuraCoat, CeraKote, GunKote, doesn't matter - surface prep is the most important step you'll have. Ideally the parts would then be abrasive blasted with aluminum oxide which is outside the reach of most home garages. You can lightly scuff the parts but don't make them too smooth. The coatings need something to stick to and super smooth surfaces aren't very conducive if you want long term results. If you get too smooth you can use a cold phosphorus coating first and then use your colors. I haven't used the little handheld hobby pack DuraCoat sells, but if you do, be sure to understand and follow the instructions completely.

Once the parts are coated, cured, reassembled and lubed you can do whatever you like with the gun as it will be every bit as durable or more so than the original finish if it was properly applied. The engravings and serial numbers will still be clean and sharp if done properly.

Flat or shiny. DuraCoat comes in flat and can be made flatter. Why does everyone's finish look shiny like you mentioned? Because we're trying to sell it and flat finishes don't photograph nearly as well as shiny ones. I'll rub some RemOil or DuraCoat Trulube into my flat finishes for photo sessions, and then just degrease the finish when I'm done if desired. A truly dead flat finish has many advantages, but being attractive isn't usually one of them. The eye like the little bit of shine and contrasts.

Properly refinishing your rifle should not be done in haste. gather all your tools and supplies, study the instructions, prepare a space, the better your finish is applied the better it will last. Anyone can buy these products, so you have an idea of what pros like me are paying for the products. The real cost when you look at my charges for coating is the labor involved. I don't care if you only spent $5.00 on Krylon - do the job right and you'll be rewarded with results in line with the product and labor you chose.

Sorry for the length - I get carried away about proper coatings and this only scratches the surfaces of stuff to know about it.
+100 to everything he said.

If you really want your rifle done right, it's best to have it professionally done. I've seen GunDocs work, and it's top notch.

It can be done right at home, but like GunDoc said, it's all about the prep.

-Fred
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:34 PM   #9
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So far I've had bad luck with painting mechanical things with moving parts. So painting a receiver is a big fear of mine. Even painting a telescoping stock would make me worry I was just ruining it. I might just go with a professional powder coating on the handguard and paint the grip and stock myself, leave the receivers alone. Thanks for all the replies, though. It just sounds really complicated, and I don't want to ruin an $800 gun.

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Old 12-13-2011, 03:28 PM   #10
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Triggernomic, I'm sorry if I made it sound too difficult. It just takes a lot of attention to detail; much like cooking a fine meal. I would add that powder coating is the same as all powder coats are thermoset (heat cured) and some cheaper parts these days can't take the heat.

Go get some scrap metal, plastic and wood, and a few coatings for practice. DuraCoat has the home spray kit, and Brownell's has a large selection of coatings under their brand name with complete instructions. Practice on some stuff will give you a lot of feedback and insight.

My very first shop was tiny and DuraCoat was brand new on the market. I bought a Harbor Freight air compressor and a small blast cabinet - the long guns stuck out the side and I had to make a trash bag cover to keep the media in. I had an old set of window blinds I hung from the ceiling joists and use them for a back stop to catch overspray. It was a nightmare, but I learned about surface prep, time, temperature and very expensively, about humidity control during the application. I did a lot of guns, many my own, before investing in better setup.

My point is good work can be done with the most rudimentary equipment if you pay attention to every step of the process. I've applied just about every coating, and while I'm not plugging DuraCoat as the absolute best since everyone has a preference, I've never had a problem calling them up and speaking to the applicators about colors and conditions and getting tips and tricks. These guys love what they do and they're willing to share the info to get great results. Give it a try. If you decide to go with a pro shop be sure to ask for their warranty conditions and expectations. I have re-refinished a few guns that were damaged in handling or shipping and other than obvious abuse I generally do touch ups at a free or reduced cost. Just like shopping for a car, ask around and check the shop out.

A professional job is an investment, a home job is a source of pride.

John

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