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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently purchased my first trailer. It is structurally safe and strong, but it needs cosmetic work. A bit of surface rust inside and out. I want to paint it! Looking for a step-by-step of how to do this without butchering the project lol. I KNOW it will take a bit of time, PLEASE don't tell me to pay a professional to do it. I have the time, I don't want to pay the money to have it professionally done, everything is a learning experience and I want to try my hand at it.

After lots of reading and talking to my handy dandy grandfather, I know I'll have to sand the entire thing, treat the rust spots, prime, paint.

Does anybody have experience with DIY trailer projects? Recommendations for the best (affordable) rust treatment, primer, and paint? I've heard very mixed reviews about Rust-Oleum products, tractor paint, etc.
Not looking to break the bank on autobody paint, especially because it will probably require someone painting it for me.

Thinking a light grey/silver color. I strongly dislike white but want the trailer to stay cooler in the sun.

Thanks! (P.S. I'll post before and after pics :wink:)
 

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Well, I've seen some nice trailers painted by do-it-yourself with a spray paint can or roller and then I've seen some atrocious horrors too.
Most do-it-yourself fall someplace between the two extremes.

If you know how to paint with a true paint gun then go that route and go to a autobody supply store and purchase your paint, thinners, fish-eye removers, drying agents, paper, tape, the bondo for smoothing the sides, the glazing putty to remove sanding marks, primer and all the thinners {they are not always the same as the paint requires}, don't forget the several sand paper grits you will need too...

So, just to give you a idea of cost...
My husband is painting our one truck.
4-door quad cab, 8' bed exterior only but the entire truck... he is not doing the bed inside as it is fully covered in bed liner and immaculate.
Paint and supplies to do the job are between $400 - $500 at least today...paint is expensive to buy a enamel paint which is the easiest and most forgiving to spray out of a gun.
Hubby owns the paint gun and large compressor to run that sprayer properly already...

Be prepared for the project you wish to take on.
Can you cut corners, sure...you can do it on the cheap...skip steps and cheat somethings but honestly it will look it probably.
Now, no idea of how many spray cans of Rustoleum are needed, nor how many quarts of roll-on but it doesn't need all the additives that run into a small fortune that automotive paint requires to spray and lay down for a nice finish not full of what is referred to as orange peel...that ugly rippling effect you see on a car that was in a accident and not painted correctly.

Me, knowing what I know about the work involved to get it to the paint stage would look into a Maaco paint job after you do all the repairs and prep work, they will just shoot the paint on the trailer as fancy or plain as you want.
Years ago there was a company called Earl Scheib that did car painting, not sure they still exist and absolutely look around your area for places that may do this kind of work too.
Even then, probably looking at roughly $600 to paint a 2-horse trailer top to bottom, inside and out.
It is time consuming and labor intensive to paint a trailer when you must be on and off ladders to do roofs...not as easy as you imagine.

I truly don't mean to discourage you but do realize that even a trailer that has "minimal" rust is time and labor intensive to address each spot and then prep the entire trailer...very, very labor intensive.
Enjoy your project.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Fair! I'll have to take my chances at cutting corners in price, but ladders and labor never scared me. We own horses, after all ;) We do have a paint sprayer. I've heard of people even using basic, non-automotive paints in these without all the fancy work that is done in shop. The results looked nice, granted you know how to spray a vertical surface without dripping. I guess I know "how", I just don't know "what".
 

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Did one myself many years ago. Sanded it with a sander and by hand in the places the sander couldn't get to. Used Rustoleum for the primer and the finish coat. I painted the primer on myself and then my mechanic offered to do the finish coat with his sprayer. It was a 60's something Merhow that had sat abandoned in a field for I don't know how long, I bought it in the back half of the 80's for either 1 or 2 hundred (I've slept since then) and kept it until the early 2000's when it was starting to need some more body work done on it. It sold for $700.00 at an auction.

Not a good picture but the only one I have on the computer of it. You can see it better if you can enlarge it and it's very dusty because we'd traveled 500+ miles with some of that on gravel roads to get to the ride.

joey1.jpg
 

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My husband painted my old stock trailer before we sold it. It turned out perfect. He sanded it, primed it, and used an air sprayer to paint it. I think he used Tremclad paint. Picture 090.jpg
 

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This trailer has been painted twice by me. The first time sprayed and this time cut in with brush and rolled with the finest roller I could get. Took 3 gallons of tractor enamel paint on the exterior and 3 gallons of white on the inside. I like the roller as it gets more mils of paint thickness. I also painted the roof (flat section in middle ) white to reflect the heat and sun keeping the inside cooler for the horses. The trailer is a 14' stock trailer and hauls 3 horses very comfortable.
 

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My husband who does bodywork on the side said between 1 - 1.5 gallons for the exterior.
Much is going to depend upon how many coats you lay down, are you using a sprayer or a roller too...
If you want the job to look good and last, he said a minimum of 2 coats needed.

If you cheat and do to heavy a application it runs and looks terrible a finished product, also will not dry correctly and you run a real risk of it literally peeling off in chunks.

Oh... Tremclad I found out is Rustoleum paint under different name sold in Canada.
https://www.rustoleum.ca/product-catalog/consumer-brands/tremclad/rust-paint
:runninghorse2:...
 

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I have painted a lot of trailers over the years, sometimes using a brush, sometimes a roller, sometimes both. I've never tried spray because I didn't feel like I was skilled enough. I believe the secret to a long lasting paint job is to sand thoroughly. All my paint jobs have held up well. It takes a long time and a lot of elbow grease and not something I look forward to doing, but I'm always glad I got it done.

Here are some photos of paint jobs. One set is before and after pictures of the job I did this past spring. I have one more set, but of course, I can't find it right now. Oh well. My husband recommends Baer paint.
 

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