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Old 10-15-2015, 02:52 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: WA
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Year: 1997
Chassis: International 3800 AmTran (wish it was a TransAm)
Engine: DT466E
Question Professional paint job costs?

I have spent probably 50+ hours over the last few weeks with an orbital sander, sand paper, and scotch-brite pads on my 39' bus. It was a PAIN IN THE ASS!! lol. It's so far been the only part of this conversion that I have not enjoyed.

Regardless, I am done with that and I am ready to paint. I have browsed threads talking about which paints to use and how to paint it. Despite it's high cost, I am going to go with automotive paint. I want this to be a one-and-done kind of thing, and I know rustoleum will fade a bit sooner that I'd like. Maybe I'll throw some clear coat on top, but we'll see. Bottom line is - I want this to look good. I don't have unlimited money but I can pay whatever is needed for the right job.

Here is my question. Painting/prepping for paint is not something I enjoy at all. Since the sanding is done, I wouldn't mind paying to have it done at a professional shop with my color scheme. So what I want to know is:
  • Has anyone had their bus painted professionally? If so, what was the cost?
  • If no one has had this done, anyone with any other paint-shop experience know what might be the ballpark-range of a price I should look for? I don't have any knowledge here and don't want to get overcharged.
  • Should I buy paint beforehand (maybe to save cost?) or do they measure all that out and handle it for you?
  • Lastly, ignoring costs, how ridiculous would it be to make the bus that color-changing iridescent paint? Would it be overkill? lol
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Old 10-15-2015, 03:44 PM   #2
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You did all that prep-
Try to paint it yourself. It's not too hard to do it and you'll save a ton of money.
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Old 10-15-2015, 05:52 PM   #3
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I just rattle-can'd mine without any prep. Going on 2 years and holding up pretty well.
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Old 10-15-2015, 09:58 PM   #4
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If you have a shop apply the paint, I suggest not buying the paint yourself. The shop will probably have a brand they commonly use and are very familiar with its behavior in their shop/booth as far as what ratio of paint:hardener:reducer to use based on the temperature that day, what size batch to mix, optimal viscosity and paint gun settings.. If you provided a paint they're less familiar with it could affect the result. They might charge more just for the hassle. There's a fair chance they'll be getting better materials pricing than you can get.

IMHO the only reason to buy the materials yourself when hiring a pro to do a job is if you have reason to believe this pro might somehow "forget" to buy the materials for your job with that upfront "50% down payment" and start giving excuses about how he can't start your job yet because he spent your money finishing the previous job, so now he has to take a new job to get money for materials to do yours.... Better to just not hire that kind of "pro"!

You might try pricing it out both ways to help make the choice. As a small point of reference, for whatever it might be worth, two years ago I bought a bunch of Valspar automotive paint for a trailer. The tan colored sealer cost about $100/gal, the single-stage paint was maybe $120/gal, and I don't remember what the primer, reducer, and hardener all cost. All told I think I was in around $400 to paint the exterior only of the trailer box, about 12x6 feet by 3 feet tall, plus some paint on the fenders, tongue, and tool box.

Let us know what you find... with my bus having all-new metal on the sides, next spring I'm going to have to paint around 700 square feet of body.
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Old 11-03-2015, 07:59 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Engine: DT466E
Just got quoted by a commercial truck paint shop for 2 colors (White roof and dark blue sides) for $5200 lol. That is more than I bought the bus for. They said that even though I sanded it they would have to do it again so that they could properly warranty their paint job. They wouldn't do it without that.

Guess I probably will end up doing it myself!
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Old 11-03-2015, 08:06 PM   #6
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You won't regret doin it yourself. Other than it will be some work!
Their estimate sounds low compared to some I've heard.
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Old 11-03-2015, 08:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbatrossCafe View Post
Just got quoted by a commercial truck paint shop for 2 colors (White roof and dark blue sides) for $5200 lol. That is more than I bought the bus for. They said that even though I sanded it they would have to do it again so that they could properly warranty their paint job. They wouldn't do it without that.

Guess I probably will end up doing it myself!
I have talked to a couple of auto painters about doing my own prep work for my car. They said I should never leave here metal for even one day. If I did my own prep, they said, I should then at least give a coat of primer.

Then, after one layer of paint goes down, there is a time window within which the next layer should go down, for best adhesion. This window can vary from a couple of hours after the undercoat to a couple of days, depending on the under coat and over coat.

If you wait too long, the undercoat will cure too much and the overcoat won't stick.

So, go ahead and do it yourself, just do lots of homework first.
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Old 11-03-2015, 11:08 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Engine: DT466E
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrantRobertson View Post
I have talked to a couple of auto painters about doing my own prep work for my car. They said I should never leave here metal for even one day. If I did my own prep, they said, I should then at least give a coat of primer.

Then, after one layer of paint goes down, there is a time window within which the next layer should go down, for best adhesion. This window can vary from a couple of hours after the undercoat to a couple of days, depending on the under coat and over coat.

If you wait too long, the undercoat will cure too much and the overcoat won't stick.

So, go ahead and do it yourself, just do lots of homework first.
Thanks for the advice. I didn't sand down to bare metal. I used 220 grit and scotch bright just to scuff up the clear coat/outer layer first. Either way, that was over 3 weeks ago. I'll probably have to do it again by the time I get around to painting it. RIP my free time lol

Would have done it sooner but I don't have a garage big enough. Wish it was easier to rent large paint booths.
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Old 11-03-2015, 11:28 PM   #9
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I went to Maaco they told me $3000.00 to $4000.00
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Old 11-03-2015, 11:58 PM   #10
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My plan is to do a clear coat with color shifting pearls over black or grey rustoleum(or the like). The thing of it is if you take your bus and get it pinstriped by the natural flora and fauna of the road side environment. Sure the Auto paint will stick a bit better and show it less, but it will still look like crap to the person who spent so much time making the bus their own. The clear coat is where the strength of the finish lies, and the primer is what will determine how well it sticks to the bus the main color coat is just a fancy layer of self adhering pigment. Spend time an money on the primer and sealer cheap out on the paint.
Make your own paint booth rent some scaffold stretch some 1" pvc between the scaffolds and get some plastic by the roll, a little duct tape and imagination and Bob's your uncle. Paint your sides then elastomeric the top.
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