I receive quite a few questions about how to prepare and coat or paint our winch mount bumpers and FJ Camera Armor so I thought I would cover it a bit more here. We sell all of our products in bare steel but also offer powder coating in black, gray, silver and other colors.
First off, there is no right or wrong when it comes to coatings. I prefer paint vs powder coating if I am wheeling a vehicle hard simply because it’s easier to patch and match. However, most of our customers have us powder coat their winch mount and it always turns out great. Many of you have coated your bumper with Linex or Rhino (or whatever polyurea you prefer) and that is a good way to go as well. Some like POR-15 which is another great solution, just make sure you topcoat it as it’s sensitive to UV and will turn gray then fail in a hurry. The main draw back to powder coat and polyurea is that when you damage it you will need to take it back to the applicator to let them respray. Both are difficult to match for repairs.
On much of my personal stuff I’ll have it powder coated as it’s a tough finish. Once it becomes trail ugly then I’ll sand the scuffs, remove any surface rust, prime those spots and then shoot with Rustoleum Bed Spray as discussed below. Powder Coat makes a great base for down the road!
Rustoleum’s Bed Spray is a great alternative. Now I wouldn’t really want to use it as bedliner, I don’t think it goes on thick enough or is tough enough but for a bumper coating it’s perfect. It has a slightly textured finish, is easy to patch and covers up gashes and scratches easily. Matches the factory FJ bumper cover well too if that is what you are working on.
To prepare the bumper you will want to give it a good scuffing so the paint will adhere properly. A scotchbrite pad or, my favorite, a 3M Paint remover disc will do a great job of removing any flash rust (these come bare steel with a rust inhibitor coating) and will give a good finish for painting. But just about anything will work, sand paper, wire wheel or a flap disc.
Once you have the metal prepped you will want to give it a good cleaning. I suggest a wax and grease remover which can be found at most auto parts stores.
Make sure you get every square inch clean or your primer will not stick. You need to remove any oils and rust inhibitors from the manufacturing process along with dirt, metal shavings and what not. While we laser cut and MIG weld our bumpers, which keeps mess to a minimum, we also give it a good wipe down prior to shipping, there will always be some left over trash. Proper preparation is 90% of the battle. Buy a big roll of shop towels and keep wiping down until you see no black on the towels. Let it dry for half an hour so that any residual grease remover has time to evaporate.
Now you are ready to prime the bumper or FJ Camera Armor. I always suggest priming and painting the winch tub area first then after that has a chance to dry shoot the front/visible areas. Let the visible areas dry then flip it over and give it all a second coat. You want to paint the tub first as a winch will tear up soft paint so let it dry the most, the outside is last so you aren’t flipping it over again and it can dry nice and smooth. Just a suggestion. If you hang it to paint make darn sure you have it secured well (I suggest a chain), you don’t want 50-70 lbs hitting the ground…or your toes.
Primers are where you have quite a bit of latitude as there are tons of good primers out there. I prefer to use SEM self etching primers but you will typically only find them in automotive paint stores. It’s also going to depend on what your final coating will be as to what you might use. Make sure you read any application instructions before priming.
After you have applied 2-3 good coats of primer and waited the appropriate amount of time for it to cure then you are ready to paint. Again, there are a ton of great solutions out there, just don’t skimp on quality. The Rustoleum truck bed spray is about $8-10 per can at most stores and is easy to find, good quality spray paint is about the same price and other solutions go up from there.
Whatever you choose, make sure you take your time, don’t rush the drying process as you will be installing a heavy piece of steel on to your vehicle along with a winch and if the paint is still soft you will destroy your work in a hurry. Remember, it’s not just about looks, you want to protect your investment for the long run from rust and corrosion so give the primer and paint plenty of time to dry before installation. 2-3 good coats should suffice and I would suggest giving it 24-48 hours to dry before you start turning wrenches.
If you decide to go with us powder coating your winch mount then know that it’s done right. They get an industrial media blasting, every piece, inside and out, then it receives two coats of zinc primer and two coats of powder. This is designed to stand up to many northern winters, salt and coastal environments. Many applicators out there will chemically treat the surface instead of priming and give it only one coat (heat curing) of powder, you do NOT want that on anything you mount to an off road vehicle!
Be sure to visit our Customer Photos pages to view tons of customer installation photos showing some great examples of colors and coating solutions.
And of course… you gotta visit our store and shop for some new goodies for your off road rig!