Resto File #2: Interior Dye Test.

Resto File #2: Interior Dye Test.

I recently decided to try my hand at doing a little interior dyeing. My whole interior needs work but I figured I’d start small just to see how it goes.

I recently stripped out my interior for a complete clean up, including the door panels and I was dissatisfied with what I saw. I was quite tempted to try my hand at dyeing the upper part of the panels but I figured I would save it for another day, or simply replace the dang things altogether.

Talk about a sunburn!

Considering the rarity of such replacement parts I may eventually take the plunge and attempt to simply make new ones for myself. In the meantime however small steps will have to do.

So, I figured I would at least give it a test run with my door handles and the results were promising. For preparation I first cleaned the handles with a simple soap and water solution. I use a cleaner from a local Dollar store as sort of a multipurpose cleaner, and in varying strengths I must admit it’s pretty effective….plus it can be used on just about everything from interiors (when heavily watered down) to full on engine bay degreasing and parts cleaning. Obviously I suggest rinsing well, but applied directly it tends to cut through grease a lot better than expected. I was pleasantly surprised by this stuff and would suggest it to anyone looking to save money on a cheaper alternative to Simple Green or Purple Power. I DO like doing things on the cheap!

I’d buy THAT for a dollar!

Anyhow, before this turns into an impromptu commercial let me get back to it. After giving the door handles a good cleaning and letting them dry, I wiped them down once more with some mineral spirits to get rid of any leftover residues (from protectants) or greases.

What I used.

You could use wax and tar remover, or any suitable solution used to clean surfaces for painting but I was actually unable to find any and I used the mineral spirits with no adverse results.

I ran a metal coat hanger through one of the screw holes in order to suspend them for full coverage during spraying. After shaking the heck out of both spray cans for a few minutes (As per instructions) I started with the first coats of adhesion promoter.

I’ve seen mixed reviews as to whether this is even necessary, as apparently the Duplicolor Dye already has some in it, but I figured it couldn’t hurt, I wanted to do the best job I could and I’ve seen too many sloppy (and rushed) interior dye jobs online.

Before: Interior piece added for color comparison.

Another before pic: NOT pretty in pink.

So, I laid down a few light coats in a sweeping motion, careful not to overspray or “soak” the surface. I waited a minute or 2 in between each coat so I could see the surface appear to be dry before spraying the next coat. Apparently the best method (as with painting) is that it’s better to underspray than to overspray, 4 light coats will turn out better than 2 heavy coats. Anyhow 4-5 coats later I started in with the dye. With the Duplicolor you’re supposed to start applying the dye within 10 minutes of the last coat of adhesion promoter.

I used the same technique again, being sure not to overspray, and paying close attention to the surface of the door handle…you need to make sure the texturing is still easily visible, and that the dye doesn’t “pool” on the surface while spraying. I didn’t wait long in between coats this time. The porous surface no doubt helped. Combined with the effect of the promoter the dye seemed quite effective, and it seemed to be sucked up by the handles almost immediately. I was shocked to feel them dry to the touch almost instantaneously after each coat of dye. So, I laid down quite a few light coats (Maybe 5-7?) and basically just went by eye.

When I was satisfied by the coverage I set the door handles aside and let them sit out on my back patio for a day. Theoretically you just need to let them sit for a little while, but I figured a day of warm sunshine wouldn’t hurt them. Before re-installing them I checked them out and was quite happy with my results.

Not too bad!

And another look:

It looks better in person. Anything is better than that faded pink!

The dye seemed embedded nicely, and didn’t chip off or anything…they looked almost new!  Apparently I can treat them just like “normal” armrests again, and so I put on a coat of protectant and put them back in. I’ve had them like this a few weeks now and I’ve seen no trouble with them. It’s a small detail, but when it comes to a nice interior every little bit counts.

Ethan – Editor