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How To Paint Semi Truck Frame? (7 Super Tips)

Painting your semi truck frame is the most important part of preserving the life of the metal. 

While on the road, your frame is exposed to water, mud, and salt in the winter and this can cause all types of corrosion to the metal.

Sanding and painting your frame can help extend your truck’s life. 

Here’s a Short Summary of How to Paint Semi Truck Frame:

In order to paint a semi truck frame, power wash sandblast or sand it down by hand. Apply soap or oil remover to the frame to get off any grime build-up. After that apply primer, paint, and the final coat. Allow adequate time for the coating system to dry before driving your semi truck again. 

When should you Paint a Semi Truck Frame?

A semi truck can be painted for any number of reasons.

Perhaps you want to personalize your truck, want it to be in line with a company’s standard, or you want to protect it from the elements and prevent worse damage.

Paint is an important part of your truck’s life span and your own morale.

A lot of truck drivers like their truck to be a sort of home away from home, so adding some personal touches can make things more pleasant. 

But, one of the first signs of needing a fresh coat to extend your truck’s lifespan is if you are starting to see the paint wear off or crack.

If you see this, you will want to smooth it down to apply a fresh coat. 

Exposed areas can lead to rusting which can actually cause your truck to begin to deteriorate. 

Do you need to Prepare the Semi Truck Frame for Painting?

You should prepare your semi truck for painting, yes. One of the ways you can do this is with a sandblaster.

This is an especially good idea if you have significant rust on your truck frame. 

You can also use brillo pads or similar course sponges to help smooth out especially tough areas with a lot of build-up.

Prior to painting it, you may wish to apply a primer or undercoat to seal the section and prevent it from further rusting.

Getting this area smooth and fresh is important to ensuring the rust doesn’t come back right away and continue breaking down the frame of your truck. 

How much does it Cost to Sandblast a Semi Truck Frame?

The costs can vary quite a bit.

Two factors that contribute heavily to the costs are: whether you do it yourself or pay a place to do it, and whether you just get the basics done or have it stripped down completely to the metal.

This is called galvanizing.Galvanizing is much more costly and depends a lot on the state of your truck. It’s far more time consuming and can cost between $2,000-$4,000 per job. 

Sandblasting is typically more focused on a specific area and between $50-$80.00 an hour.

Remember that it can take much longer to sandblast a semi truck since they are so big, so most estimates are in the triple digits. They can be up to $600 a job. 

If you choose to do it yourself, the cost is a lot harder to calculate, but since you’ll likely be doing it in your spare time, it can take a few weeks to complete. Plus, the painting adds even more time to the job. 

How much does it Cost to Paint a Semi Truck?

The price for painting a semi truck can vary pretty wildly as well.

There are several factors which will impact the price, such as places that need painting, how long it’s been since it was last painted, the age of your vehicle, etc.

A very basic job will likely cost you at least $500-$1,000. And, this is if you get a small company rather than a large, more qualified service place. 

Getting your semi truck painted by a larger company for a more thorough and complete service will likely get you somewhere near $4,000-$6,000.00 for the service.

What Equipment do you need to Paint a Semi Truck Frame?

The amount of equipment you have will impact how your truck will likely come out in the end and how long it will take you to finish it.

You will likely want to get a high powered sander or air pressure sander to get the paint and rust removed.

If you do not have rust, you may be able to get by without this, but it is best to get one because you will likely need it at some point. 

You will probably want a paint gun or pressurized painting device to apply your paint. Some people also do the simpler method and use paintbrushes or spray paint.

You want to be careful doing this in more sensitive areas since it won’t add the same spread. 

Last, you will probably want to get some sealant or coat to keep the paint from getting exposed. Professional painters will need even more in order to be successful. But, these are the basic tools for success. 

How to Match the Paint Color of your Semi Truck Frame if you Need to?

Matching the paint on your semi truck can seem a little tricky, especially if you have a semi truck that was painted privately before you purchased it. 

If this is the case, it may be helpful to take a sample or a good photo to your local hardware, or preferably, an auto shop which performs paint jobs. They may be able to help you find the right color.

Some even have a scanner that will bring up the name of the color in a database. 

Another option is to try and call the manufacturer. Freightliner can usually help you identify the color of your paint if you give them your VIN number of your Freightliner (and the paint is still the original). If you had the truck repainted, they would only be able to give you the color, only what the original color was. 

What Type of Coating System can you use for a Semi Truck Frame?

First, you will want to clean the area you wish to paint (if it is only a small section). Perhaps you have a rusted area you want to repair or prevent from spreading on your truck frame. 

You can sand it by hand in such cases, and be sure to wash the area down with dish soap and water to remove dirt, dust, and grease. 

Once you have sanded and cleaned the area you wish to paint. The next step is to select a primer for your frame. You can use a semi gloss or high gloss or a paint/primer blend. 

Depending upon the extent of the damage, you may want to power sand, hand sand, or 

What Type of Primer can you use on your Semi Frame?

There are many brands of primer you can use for your semi truck frame, but some of the most popular are Imron and Por 15. 

Imron is known for being applied easily and is very durable.

It is strong and creates a great protective coat on your frame so the rust and moisture won’t continue rusting it away. But, this one works best if you thoroughly sand and clean the area you are going to apply it to. 

Por 15 is a bit more versatile. They have a variety of rustoleum which works to transform rusted areas into a more stable, solid structure.

This one is better for smaller sections that you just want to prevent from spreading. 

What Type of Paint can you use on your Semi Frame?

A very popular paint for semi truck frames is Chassis saver magnetic paint. This paint is excellent for adding an extra level of protection against the elements and helps to keep moisture out. 

Por 15 has excellent paints and primers, and it is usually a good idea to combine the two when doing your painting. If you use a Por 15 primer, it’s probably also a good idea to use a Por 15 paint. 

Certain types of spray paints are excellent for quick fixes that you would not want to spread.

However, you will want to find a good semi truck paint and not just use any old spray paint you find at a craft store. 

Some say it will work fine, but unless you’re just looking to temporarily cover damage that you need to get thoroughly fixed later but want to prevent further decay, then get spray paint for semi trucks. 

What Type of Final Coat or Finishing can you use on your Semi?

PPG Commercial Coatings has an excellent reputation for paints, primers, and coatings for semi trucks.

They add a very nice finishing touch to your semi truck’s paint job and make it have a professional appeal. 

The PPG Resilion 2420 is an excellent coat choice for those who endure harsh climates on a regular basis.

It has been specially designed to suit shifting environments without cracking.

They also have a large variety of other finishes specified to different needs, such as the Spectracon line and Envirocon blends.

You can find a complete list here.

How long does the Paint last on your Semi Truck Frame?

This depends a lot on the type of paint you use. The two most popular paints for automobiles and semi trucks are acrylic and urethane based paints.

They differ significantly and have a relatively significant impact on the life span of your semi truck. 

They will be discussed in further detail below, but acrylic paints tend to last around five years. This is especially true if the area is sanded and cleaned. 

Urethane paint, on the other hand, can last ten years or more when applied correctly.

Again, proper care and application are one of the most significant factors to extend the life of your semi truck’s paint.

What is the Best Paint to use for Semi Truck Frames?

If you are applying paint yourself, you will probably want to steer clear of urethane base paints. Urethane-based paint is highly toxic and heavily regulated.

You need special equipment to be able to apply it without negative side effects. 

Although, urethane-based paint is one of the longest-lasting paints you can choose. It hardens rather quickly once activated, so only stir it when you are ready to use it.

Acrylic paint dries fairly quickly after it is applied.

It may take 24-48 hours to dry completely, so you will want to be sure to have a well-ventilated space to keep it and try to keep any moisture off of it until it is totally dry. 

How much Primer and Paint would you need?

Some paints come premixed with primer and paint. If this is the paint you select you may wish to purchase 3-4 gallons of paint for your semi truck.

Fairly consistent, regardless of the exact size of your semi truck, about 4 gallons total should cover it. 

If you apply them separately, you should get at least two gallons of each. These tend to be thicker than the premixed varieties, and you may not need to use as many coats.

How to Paint a Semi Truck Frame?

You can paint your semi truck with a paint brush if you feel this is not too time-consuming for you. But, spraying the paint with a machine is much easier and gives the whole frame a better coat. 

Prior to applying the paint, you will want to manage the metal. If it is heavily corroded with rust, you will want to power spray it or sand it in some manner. 

Some powder coat their frame prior to applying primer, but if you’re dealing with rusted areas, it’s better to use rustoleum or just power sand the area.

Best Tips when Painting a Semi Truck Frame

One of the best tips for getting your semi truck looking new is to allocate the time to do it well.

If you choose to do it yourself, it can be a time-consuming project, and it is best to view it more as an opportunity to save yourself money and get the task done to your liking. 

But, taking the proper time to get it done right the first time will save you time in the long run. Removing rust and grime before laying primer is important. 

You should get a sander and lay down paper prior to painting to save you some time cleaning up!

Curing Time when Painting a Semi Truck Frame

For urethane-based paint the curing period is much longer than acrylic paints.

The substances in urethane paint make them very durable and can take up to 3 weeks to completely cure and must be kept in dry cold areas. 

Acrylic paints take only a few minutes to be ready to apply to your semi truck. This is because they are fundamentally a water-based paint.

How Long should the Primer take to Cure?

Primer is fairly wet and is important to preserving the life of your truck frame. Usually, you will apply the primer in thin coats before the paint.

These coats can take up to 2 hours to completely cure and dry, but some varieties can be ready within 60 minutes.

However, before putting down a coat of paint, you should allow it a couple of hours to completely harden and dry. 

How Long should the Paint Coating take to Cure?

This depends upon the type of paint you use. Water-based paint can take up to 24 hours to completely dry, and you should give it time in between coats before applying another. 

Oil-based or urethane-based paints can take a couple of days to completely cure. This is because they get much harder and more solid than water-based paints and need that extra time to solidify. 

How Long does the Finishing Coat take to Cure?

To clarify, curing is similar to drying but more complete. The paint is considered cured once it is completely dried and solidified. 

The final coat of paint is the coat that will experience the most abuse from the elements, so regardless of the type of paint you use, set time aside to allow it to cure completely. 

For most paints, you should allow at least 24-48 hours for them to dry and even longer for urethane paint. 

Can you Speed up the Curing Time of the Coats of Paint?

The best thing you can do to speed up the curing time of your paint is to provide your truck with a cool, dry space. 

You may want to do the painting in the fall and have a sheltered space for the truck to dry. The fall or winter is best because it is typically the cooler, dryer times of the year for most U.S.

Is it Important to wait for the Coatings to Cure Properly?

Proper curing time is essential for your semi truck’s life span. This is especially true for the frame or chassis of the semi truck since this is the part that holds the most weight. 

Allowing the paint to cure completely will prevent it from cracking or breaking in the elements. This will prevent it from getting moisture under the paint, and dissolving the metal. 

How to take Care of the Newly Painted Semi Truck Frame?

The best thing you can do to preserve the paint’s life span on your semi truck is to keep it clean.

You may even want to do it after each long trip you take to eliminate the build-up of grime materials under your semi truck. 

You can also apply waxes and shields to your paint to help preserve it and remove any corrosive particles you may have picked up on the way. 

There are some car washes who do this cleaning for you, but nothing beats doing it yourself. No one really cares for your truck the way you do.