Can You Paint Carbon Fiber Hoods? (Explained)

Undeniably, carbon fiber has grown to become a popular material in the automotive industry. Today, you can find many cars, especially high-performing machines with parts made out of carbon fiber.

Being the strong and durable material that it is, by the look of things, the carbon fiber trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

And that is evident when it comes to carbon fiber hoods. Many car enthusiasts are installing carbon fiber hoods in their vehicles for a bunch of reasons.

It reduces the weight of the car, thus boosting handling and speed. It also makes your vehicle look stunning.

Have you thought about painting it if you have or are planning to get a carbon fiber hood? Carbon fiber hoods often come with a unique protective finish which is a layer of clear coat.

They, therefore, don’t need to be painted. However, if you do wish to change the color, you could always paint it.

And even though carbon fiber can be painted, this isn’t an easy task. As you will see later on, carbon fiber doesn’t share the same properties as metal. Therefore, brace yourself for a lot of elbow grease.

can you paint carbon fiber hoods

Do Experts Recommend Painting of Carbon Fiber?

The best advice we can get when discussing DIY tricks such as painting over carbon fiber hoods is from auto-detailing gurus.

The funny bit about this DIY task is that detailing experts have mixed opinions. Though possible, painting over carbon fiber is not recommended. This is because it is a very labor-intensive task, and the results can’t be predicted.

There is also the aspect where carbon fiber looks so great. Why would anyone want to paint it? Be as it may, car owners love painting different parts of their vehicles, carbon hoods included.

So, if you’re going to paint over your carbon fiber hood, nothing should stop you from doing so.

What are the Challenges of Painting over Carbon Fiber?

Suppose you ask anyone who has ever painted over carbon fiber. They will tell you that it wasn’t an easy task. The biggest challenge is that, unlike metal, carbon fiber is woven together.

And to worsen the situation, this material absorbs paint faster. Therefore, you are going to struggle so hard when spreading paint over the carbon fiber surface.

The other challenge is that if you do not evenly spread the paint, there will be visible spots of carbon fiber in certain areas once it cures.

If the type of paint requires exposure to high temperatures for it to set, the extreme heat can distort carbon fiber.

As you can see, painting over carbon fiber is a highly complex process that needs a careful and well-thought-out approach.

Are There Tips on How to Paint Carbon Fiber Hoods?

Many people have successfully painted over carbon fiber hoods, and you, too, can achieve the same pleasant results. And just because it is challenging doesn’t mean it is impossible.

Most carbon fiber hoods, as mentioned earlier, come with a layer of clear on top of it. Before you can start any paint job, you must get rid of this clear coat.

And that is made possible through sanding, wet sanding, to be more specific. We recommend wet sanding as it will ensure you don’t damage the fibers.

After wet sanding, the carbon fiber, follow the usual steps as you would in painting metal. That is, primer, apply a base, then a clear coat.

You may have to apply several coats of primer because carbon fiber absorbs paint quickly. Once you are done painting over carbon fiber hoods, you can sand the surface to achieve a smooth and even finish.

What is the Best Method of Painting over a Carbon Fiber Hood?

The ideal method of painting over carbon fiber hoods is to ensure the surface is smooth. That is the only way paint is going to hold up on carbon fiber and look good.

This is why we advised you to wet sand the surface first before doing anything else. Another pro tip that can help you paint over carbon fiber is to use a gel coat.

On a fiber-reinforced composite, a gel coat plays a crucial role in creating a layer on which paint can be applied. After sanding the surface and giving the gel coat time to cure, you can follow the usual painting procedure.

We can’t emphasize enough how much skill is needed when painting over carbon fiber. If you get one step wrong, such as paint on rough carbon fiber, the paint won’t hold, and the final finish will look hideous. Also, avoid using low-quality paints.

Is It Better to Have a Carbon Fibre Hood Painted by an Expert?

Forget about basic car painting projects that we always encourage you to do yourself. Painting over carbon fiber hoods is something that needs skill and experience.

If you doubt your abilities, take it to an expert instead of damaging your carbon fiber hood and have it painted. Or install it as it is without changing the color or anything else.

The experts at your nearest auto body shop should be able to do this for you. It may cost more, but it is way better than ending up with a messy and damaged carbon fiber hood.

Considering that you spent a great deal of money in buying the carbon fiber hood, it wouldn’t make sense if you ruined it with a paint job.

Should I or Should I Not Paint Carbon Fibre Hoods?

This is a matter of preference and choice. Most people find that carbon fiber hoods look amazing. And therefore, they do not need to paint it.

However, another group of people prefers to have the carbon fiber hoods painted in a color of their choice. Whether to paint or not to paint has got advantages and disadvantages.

For example, if you do not paint it, you won’t have to endure the lengthy and complicated painting process.

And the carbon fiber will remain intact. But, should you go ahead and paint it, you will get the finish that you crave profoundly, but it will cost you a lot of time, effort, and resources.

Plus, there is also the risk of getting an unwanted finish that won’t look so good, especially if you have zero experience with painting carbon fiber.

How to Paint Carbon Fibre Hoods?

Have you made up your mind that you want to paint the carbon fiber hood you have just received? Here is how you should go about the entire process.

  • Step 1

First, test the hood and see if it is a perfect fit. Though not always, custom hoods may not fit your car perfectly. And even before you can start working on it, you should confirm whether it is a perfect fit or not.

  • Step 2

The second step is to wet sand the carbon fiber into a smooth surface. If it is rough or bumpy, the paint may not hold on to it. Wet sanding helps with the removal of the clear coat that comes applied on the hood.

  • Step 3

Clean the sanded material. A piece of cloth should do the trick.

  • Step 4

Grab your favorite adhesion promoter and apply it evenly on the carbon fiber hood. In this step, you can also use a gel coat. We recommend the latter as it is most suited for carbon fiber.

  • Step 5

After doing the above, you are already familiar with the next steps. Apply at least three to four coats of primer.

Remember that carbon fiber absorbs paint faster, and this is why you may have to apply lots of primer. Once the primer dries, sand it so that you can create a smoother surface for the paint to hold on to.

  • Step 6

Spray two coats of color paint. To get your desired finish, spray two or three coats of colored paint on the carbon fiber.

It may be tempting to go for one thick coat. But this will cause the paint to run. Thinner coats are better. And you can always apply several coats until you are satisfied with the final results.

  • Final Step

Add two layers of clear coat. By now, your carbon fiber hood should be looking better. Finish up the painting project with two layers of clear coat.

The clear paint adds gloss, and it protects the paint from the elements and UV rays. Give the paint some time to cure fully, and then take the car out for a drive. The carbon fiber hood should be looking better.

Will Painted Carbon Fibre Hoods Crack?

Carbon fiber as a material isn’t meant to be painted on. Unlike metal, the composition of carbon fiber is very different.

This is why many car owners install their carbon fiber hoods exactly as they have come from the manufacturer.

Painting over carbon fiber hoods does have its risks. The first one is that it can crack. To some extent, carbon fiber is flexible, and when exposed to fluctuating temperatures, it may expand and contract, thus causing the paint on top to crack.

The other risk is that you can damage the carbon fiber hood if you over-sand the surface. And, there is no guarantee that the final finish of a painted carbon fiber hood will look better.

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