Step-by-Step: How to Paint ATV Plastics for a Fresh Look 2023

Have you ever looked at your ATV and thought it could use a little splash of personality?

Painting the plastics of your ATV not only gives it a unique look but also increases its perceived value.

Imagine the thrill of cruising around with a custom-painted ATV, capturing attention and admiration. 

Here’s a simple step by step guide on how to paint ATV plastics in an easy to understand way.

Step by Step – How to Paint your ATV Plastic

How to Paint ATV Plastics

Step 1: The Initial Clean-Up

To kick things off, remove the plastics from the ATV. Trust me; it’s much easier to work on them that way.

Once they’re off, wash them with warm soapy water. This is basically to rid them of visible dirt and dust.

Then, grab some 180 or 200 grit sandpaper. While sanding, be gentle to avoid creating unwanted grooves.

Remember, our main goal here is to remove that thin weathered layer caused by sun exposure.

Step 2: Deep Clean and Decontamination

I advise using a scouring pad for this step, similar to those you use on tough dish stains.

Pair this with a cleaner – 90-95% alcohol or carb cleaner will do the trick.

Scrub every inch meticulously. This is pivotal for the paint’s adherence.

Step 3: Sanding (Yes, Again!)

Did you miss a spot during the first round of sanding? No worries. Go over the plastic with 180 or 200 grit sandpaper once more.

If you’re lucky enough to have a sandblaster, load it with 80 grit aluminum oxide and go to town. But, if you don’t, using 400 grit sandpaper followed by another cleaning round will suffice.

Step 4: The Finishing Clean

Once you’ve made sure every inch is sanded, it’s time for the finishing clean. I recommend a good surface cleaner or degreaser.

Spray it generously on the plastic, wait a bit, and then wipe it off.

Step 5: Prep with Adhesion Promoter

An adhesion promoter will be your best friend in this journey. It’ll ensure the paint remains intact and resistant to chipping.

My personal favorite is Polyvance Plastic Magic – it’s user-friendly and effective.

Two coats should do, but let the first one dry before adding the second.

Step 6: Primer Time

Use a high-build primer, which will help mask any residual scratches. After applying, let it dry thoroughly. recommend sanding it again gently with 320 grit sandpaper to achieve a silky-smooth surface.

Step 7: Seal the Deal

A flexible sealer will significantly prolong the life of your paint job.

It’s especially handy for those who experience fluctuating weather conditions.

Once applied, allow it to dry completely.

Step 8: The Main Event – Painting

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for!

Opt for a paint with a flex additive for optimal results.

Apply the base coat first, followed by the clear coat. Take your time, ensure even coverage, and avoid over-spraying to prevent paint runs.

Additional Tips on Painting your ATV

  1. Always paint in a controlled environment. Keeping the temperature between 65 and 70 degrees ensures optimal curing.
  2. While it’s tempting to admire your handiwork immediately, it’s best to wait a full 24 hours before using the plastics.
  3. For optimal durability, be gentle with the plastics for the first week after painting.

Related: Mastering ATV Tire Pressure: The Ultimate 2023 Guide

Why Paint ATV Plastics and Fenders?

Aesthetic Appeal: Over time, the original paint on ATVs can fade, chip, or get scratched. By repainting, you can restore or even enhance the vehicle’s original beauty. You can also customize the color to better match your personal style.

Increase Resale Value: A well-maintained and good-looking ATV can command a higher resale value. A fresh coat of paint can make an older ATV look almost new again.

Protection Against Elements: A new paint job can act as a protective layer against the elements. Sun, rain, snow, and mud can take a toll on your ATV’s plastic parts. A fresh coat of paint can protect these parts from UV rays, moisture, and other environmental factors.

Repair and Cover Damage: If the plastics or fenders have minor cracks, scratches, or other damages, painting can be a part of the repair process. It can help cover up minor imperfections and make them less noticeable.

Personalization: Some ATV owners paint their vehicles to personalize them. With a variety of paint colors and techniques available, it’s possible to create a unique look that stands out from the rest.

Refresh Old Plastics: Instead of buying new plastics, which can be costly, painting the old ones can make them look brand new again, extending their lifespan.

Identification: For those who ride in groups or participate in events, having a distinct color or design can help easily identify one’s ATV among many.

Protection Against Corrosion: While plastics don’t corrode, some fenders might have metal components. Painting can help protect these parts from rust and corrosion.

Cost-effective Maintenance: Compared to replacing all the plastics or fenders, painting can be a more cost-effective way to maintain and refurbish your ATV.

Choosing the Right Materials and Tools

Type of Paint: I recommend using paints specifically designed for plastics. Automotive-grade paints can offer a robust and durable finish.

Primer: It’s essential to have a primer designed for plastics. I advise using a plastic adhesion promoter to ensure the paint bonds well.

Sandpaper: Before you start, it’s a good idea to have a variety of sandpaper grits on hand. Start with a coarser grit like 400 and work your way up to a finer one, such as 800 or 1000, for a smooth finish.

Clear Coat: To protect the paint and give it a glossy finish, I recommend applying a clear coat. It not only protects the paint from UV rays but also adds a layer of protection against scratches.

Paint Sprayer: If you’re looking for a smooth, even finish, I advise using a paint sprayer. While spray cans can be convenient, a paint sprayer can offer more consistency.

Cleaning Materials: Before painting, the plastics need to be spotlessly clean. I recommend using a degreaser or a plastic cleaner to remove any dirt, oil, or residues.

Tape and Newspaper: To mask off areas you don’t want to paint, it’s good to have some painter’s tape and newspapers. Basically, this ensures that paint only goes where you want it.

Related: Best ATV Winch for 2023: Top 4 Expert Picks

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Not Prepping the Surface Properly

Mistake: Some people dive straight into painting without cleaning and sanding the surface.
Avoidance: I always advise starting with a thorough cleaning of the ATV’s surface. Following that, sanding is crucial to ensure the paint adheres properly. Trust me.

Using the Wrong Type of Paint

Mistake: Not all paints are suitable for the materials used in ATVs, leading some users to choose a type that chips or fades quickly.
Avoidance: It’s essential to select a paint specifically designed for ATVs or plastics. I recommend researching or consulting with professionals before making a purchase.

Skipping Primer

Mistake: Ignoring the use of a primer, thinking the paint alone will suffice.
Avoidance: Primer helps the paint bond to the surface. I think it’s a step that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you want a long-lasting finish.

Not Allowing Enough Drying Time

Mistake: Impatience leads to touching or using the ATV before the paint is fully dry.
Avoidance: I can’t stress enough how crucial patience is in this process. I advise always waiting the recommended drying time, or even a bit longer, to ensure the paint is set.


Our ATVs endure a lot, from adventurous trails to the test of time.

Giving them a fresh paint job not only rejuvenates their look but also safeguards against potential damage. Remember, the key to a flawless finish lies in the details.

Frequently Asked Questions

What paint can you use on ATV plastics?

For ATV plastics, it’s advisable to use paints specifically designed for plastics, such as automotive-grade acrylic enamel or acrylic lacquer paints. It’s essential that the paint is flexible enough to adhere to plastic without chipping or cracking over time.

Can you paint Honda ATV plastics?

Yes, Honda ATV plastics can be painted. Just like other ATV plastics, it’s essential to use plastic-specific or automotive-grade paints and to follow the recommended preparation steps to achieve the best results.

How do you restore faded plastic on an ATV?

To restore faded plastic on an ATV, start by cleaning the plastic thoroughly. Then, use a plastic restorer or plastic polishing compound to bring back its shine. For severe fading, consider painting the plastic with a suitable paint after proper preparation.

How do you prep plastic for paint?

  1. Clean the surface with soap and water to remove dirt.
  2. Sand the plastic lightly with fine-grit sandpaper to create a rough surface for the paint to adhere.
  3. Wipe down the plastic with a plastic cleaner or rubbing alcohol to remove any residues.
  4. Apply a plastic adhesion promoter or primer specifically designed for plastic surfaces.
  5. Allow the primer to dry thoroughly before painting.

Will paint stick to ATV plastic?

Yes, paint can stick to ATV plastic. However, it’s crucial to use the right type of paint and ensure proper preparation. Using a plastic adhesion promoter or primer designed for plastic surfaces will ensure a durable bond between the paint and plastic.

What paints stick on plastic?

The ideal choices for painting plastic include acrylic enamel, acrylic lacquer, and paints labeled as “plastic” or “multi-surface” at home improvement stores. It’s always a good practice to check the paint’s label to ensure compatibility with plastic materials.

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