Paint or Powder? Since we’re being careful where we spend our budget on this build, we decided to paint the frame rather than powder coat it. The price of rattle-can paint is definitely budget-friendly. But that’s not the only reason we decided not to powder coat this build.
The LJ frame is pretty rough, with deep dents where the forming press pushed to make each bend in the structure. We weren't fond of the flaws, so we filled the most glaring ones. And since powder coat does not bond to filler, that wasn’t an option for us. Finally, the last reason to go with paint is that even though powder coated frames look awesome right out of the shop, paint is much easier to touch up when that inevitable day comes when you need to make a repair.
So we filled most of the divots in the frame and sanded them down with a long board to flatten surfaces. We followed the long board with 220 and a DA sander.
Then we used Rustoleum's Etching Primer on all the bare steel. This stuff works by etching into the steel, creating a very strong bond between the metal and the next coat.
Next, we applied Rustoleum's filler primer on the entire frame to fill all the sanding scratches, seal the filler, and give the frame a uniform color. After the filler primer dried, we hand-sanded the entire frame with 320 to remove any dirt and blemishes.
We blew off the dust with compressed air and started the final coats. We chose a Rustoleum metallic gunmetal gray. It sprays out nicely, but took 3 coats to cover. The finish is pretty hardy and is just below gloss and looks great for a frame.
The entire paint job cost under $80 and it looks awesome. We will be using the same paint on the entire under-carriage and the front and rear bumpers.