# Roller Painting for Metal Aircraft

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#### Daleandee

##### Well-Known Member
Having searched the forums I failed to find any detailed information on, what I believe to be, an excellent approach to finishing metal aircraft with good results at a fraction of the cost of most methods being presented.

The cost to wrap an aircraft was well over my budget and I personally don't want to spend upwards of 1/2 the cost of the aircraft on the finish. Sprayed on finishes are quite gorgeous if done correctly but the cost can be quite prohibitive for us that live on the lower end of the economic scale.

Now if you are building an Oshkosh Champion or have a nearly unlimited supply of funds to put the perfect finish on your aircraft please disregard the following information (and consider contributing to my GoFundMe page - :roll. But, if you have a desire to finish a metal aircraft with very good results for less than a grand, this info might be welcome. I, like a number of economy minded builders, was building a Frequent Flyer, not a beauty queen or a hangar queen.

It's about rolling on the paint job. I did it with my aircraft and the results, while not award winning by Lindy standards, are quite acceptable. I've had so many people that have seen it tell me that it looks as if it is sprayed on. The process is detailed on my website with photos. The photos can be clicked on and enlarged so you can get a fair view of how well the paint "flows out" after application. This isn't Rustoleum from Wal-Mart but some rather expensive Acrylic Urethane Enamel, three part paint used for aluminum boats.

Here's the process as written on my web site:

ExperCraft Simple Log: Sonex # 1319

A few of the nearly finished photos are here:

ExperCraft Simple Log: Sonex # 1319

Another aircraft painted with this method:

ExperCraft Simple Log: Sonex 1306

Here is the website for the products used:

Signature Finish and Honey Teak Products - Signature Finish

My Cleanex was in the completions section of Kitplanes last November as well as on their site with some clear photos:

KITPLANES Newsline

Hopefully this will present another option for consideration to many that have a desire to paint a partial or all metal aircraft but didn't have the resources, equipment, or location to do so.

Dunno if this helps ...

Dale Williams
N319WF @ 6J2
Myunn - "daughter of Cleanex"
120 HP - 3.0 Corvair
Tail Wheel - Center Stick
Signature Finish 2200 Paint Job
118.4 hours / Status - Flying

#### bmcj

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
My first thought is that it should be fine cosmetically (as you said, functional but not an award winner), but what about the weight (amount of paint applied)? Unless your paint flows extremely well, I would think that a rolled coat would be much thicker than a sprayed coat. Also, if it is thicker, is it more prone to cracking and flaking?

#### Daleandee

##### Well-Known Member
My first thought is that it should be fine cosmetically (as you said, functional but not an award winner), but what about the weight (amount of paint applied)? Unless your paint flows extremely well, I would think that a rolled coat would be much thicker than a sprayed coat. Also, if it is thicker, is it more prone to cracking and flaking?
On my aircraft the roll on method added 20 lbs. It is applied by a two roller system i.e a wet roller and a dry roller. Photos from my website show how that the second roller stretches and thins the applied coat. It looks very thin as if it were sprayed on. You can then watch it as it flows out much like spraying on auto paint. Under these circumstances it is very easy to control the amount of paint applied and correct mistakes in the process.

My paint job is about 4 years old and still looks good.

Dale
N319WF

#### Victor Bravo

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
I took a ride once in a Tri-Pacer that had been rolled on with Rust-Oleum. The guy said that even on a fabric airplane the paint job was flexible and durable, inexpensive, and looked reasonably good. Not show quality of course, but not embarrassing either.

The Stewart Systems fabric system advicates the roller as well, and claims that even the final coats rolled on look fairly good.

#### bmcj

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
On my aircraft the roll on method added 20 lbs.
Was that 20 lbs total or 20 lbs above the weight of a sprayed coating?

#### Floydr92

##### Well-Known Member
I restored a few classic mini's, and short of owning a spray booth, roller painting is about the best way to get a good finish. Very hard work, but a fine foam roller, several coats, wet sanding between coats, wet sanding the final coat all the way down to around 2000grit paper, followed by cutting compound on a rag, and a good buff with polish. If willing to spend the time you can get results matching a professional paint job.

When i say 'short of a spray booth', the reasons are because compressors and paint guns spray up all kinds of crap into your paint, unless you're good its difficult to keep a wet edge and avoid runs. With a roller, you get loads of orange peel, but no dust and no runs. I'll see if i can find some pics...

#### BoKu

##### Pundit
HBA Supporter
Was that 20 lbs total or 20 lbs above the weight of a sprayed coating?
Either way, 20 lbs is a lot of weight. Also, since for most airplanes there's a lot more wetted area aft of the CG, extra paint weight often results in tail heaviness.

#### don january

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Either way, 20 lbs is a lot of weight. Also, since for most airplanes there's a lot more wetted area aft of the CG, extra paint weight often results in tail heaviness.
That's wy I alway's do a weight+ Balance after the painting is done. On my KR-2 I was 8 lb. heavy in the tail after paint. It's amazing what the primer and paint will do.

#### narfi

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
So the main advantages are Cheap, easy, doesn't require air, doesn't require experience and doesn't require as clean a workspace?

Is there an advantage in this method for someone with access to air and booth and has experience spraying?

#### Kyle Boatright

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
So the main advantages are Cheap, easy, doesn't require air, doesn't require experience and doesn't require as clean a workspace?

Is there an advantage in this method for someone with access to air and booth and has experience spraying?
No overspray and less wasted material.

But does it make sense if you have the capability to spray? Probably not.

#### Dan Thomas

##### Well-Known Member
No overspray and less wasted material.

But does it make sense if you have the capability to spray? Probably not.
I rolled mine because the wing is one piece and wouldn't fit into the spray booth. 27 feet long. I wouldn't roll again. Too rough. The only roller I could find was a very firm, fine foam roller, no rubber rollers. Going over the paint more than once drove air bubbles into it, which formed craters once they popped when the paint was half dry. The finish was also quite thick and heavy. Maybe a hard rubber roller would work better. I did a lot of wet sanding and rerolling and in the end saved no paint at all.

I'd spray outside and deal with the bugs and dust before I'd roll again. I've done it with cars and trucks. No fun, though. I did several airplanes in the booth, after taking them apart.

#### Daleandee

##### Well-Known Member
Was that 20 lbs total or 20 lbs above the weight of a sprayed coating?
Total weight gain. Actually I was hoping for a bit less than that.

Dale
N319WF

#### Daleandee

##### Well-Known Member
I rolled mine because the wing is one piece and wouldn't fit into the spray booth. 27 feet long. I wouldn't roll again. Too rough. The only roller I could find was a very firm, fine foam roller, no rubber rollers. Going over the paint more than once drove air bubbles into it, which formed craters once they popped when the paint was half dry. The finish was also quite thick and heavy.
I had none of those issues at all. About the only work I did was a light sanding between the second and third coats. I did a bit of hand buffing after I was done.

I trust you all read the article on my website. Look at the photos showing just how thin each coat goes on (you can click several times to enlarge):

ExperCraft Simple Log: Sonex # 1319

When I purchased the system from Tom Fabula at Signature Finish he sent all the items needed to do the paint job. The only other item I bought was some Prekote metal prep from aircraft spruce.

Sorry to hear that your experience was bad with rolling paint on a metal aircraft.

Dale
N319WF

#### Pops

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
I have painted maybe 12 to 15 airplanes in the past and lots of autos. I have a homemade spray booth in my hanger. I use a HVLP Turbine spray outfit that will run 2 spray guns and 2 fresh air hoods. I always run a ground wire to what I am spraying so there is no static buildup on what I am spraying and attracting dirt and lint from the air. Even after cleaning the booth as clean as possible and running the fans for a couple hours before spraying there is a certain amount of dirt and lint in the air. I take a couple large black trash bags and blow them up and seal and put them in the far corner of the booth. The static charge on the plastic bags with attract the dirt and lint away from what you are painting to the plastic bags. Every little bit helps. The HVLP Turbine spray outfit almost gives no over spray if adjusted correctly. I love it. Worth every dollar spent.

On the SSSC I wanted to see what kind of paint job I could do with a roller. Used a 4" low nap roller and immediately went over behind the roller with a soft paint brush to get the bubbles out. Used lots of reducer in the paint so the paint would have more time to flow out before drying. Came out very nice, you would never know it wasn't sprayed.

Dan

#### cluttonfred

HBA Supporter
I am curious, given the low cost of handyman-grade HVLP sprayers like this one from Wagner ($75 from Home Depot), would that be a better alternative to the roller method? #### TFF ##### Well-Known Member I painted my house with one of the Wagners;it did it's job. I would not paint a airplane with it. A cheep$200 air compressor and a $30 paint gun will deliver pretty good results. Elbow grease is the part of painting that is expensive. Prep and post work, to make it look tops, is where the major portion of the job is. The candy part of the job is getting to spray it because of the instant gratification. The air compressor has other uses. Tools, tires, compression leak on your engine, kids balls. Way to nice not to have. #### Dan Thomas ##### Well-Known Member I am curious, given the low cost of handyman-grade HVLP sprayers like this one from Wagner ($75 from Home Depot), would that be a better alternative to the roller method?
We use one of those to apply paint stripper. They're a pretty aggressive sprayer. They spit the paint out more than spray it. If you turn it way down it just spits less, but the droplets are still big and don't flow out as nicely as an air sprayer.

I sprayed a restored piano with one of the Wagners. No matter what I did I couldn't get a glassy finish. They're great for fences and wooden siding.

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#### BJC

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
A friend in the boating business (dealer for new and used, storage, maintenance) buys the cheap HVLP guns from HF (about \$16 each) and considers them disposable. He says that they do good job, and, for that price, it is more cost effective to dispose of them than pay an employee to clean them with solvents.

BJC

#### Daleandee

##### Well-Known Member
Either way, 20 lbs is a lot of weight.
I had a polished Sonex before the tail dragger I have now. I learned the reasoning behind the wise saying that "everyone should own a polished airplane at least once." I'll take the weight penalty.

BTW ... 20 lbs of paint on a Sonex is about par for the course and better than most. When I was doing research it seemed that most sprayed on job for the Sonex were 15-40 lbs. There is another thread on HBA where it it noted that the average auto spray paint job on an RV is in the 30-40 lbs range. RV's are a bit larger than the Sonex so that makes sense.

Dale
N319WF