Prep for trailer painting

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Old 11-15-15, 08:55 AM
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Prep for trailer painting

I have a 5' x 8' utility trailer that I have to paint. When it was only a year old the paint started peeling and now after 2 more years, it's peeling very badly. I have to do something before it rusts into the sunset. Looking at the paint that's peeling, it appears there was just one thin topcoat sprayed on with no prep or primer.

My biggest question is about prepping it for priming and painting. I'm thinking about a wire cup on my angle grinder for the majority of it, then rent a sand blaster for the areas I can't get with the cup. After that, wipe it down with mineral spirits, prime and paint. Comments? A better way?
 
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Old 11-15-15, 10:18 AM
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Sounds like a plan. I'd use an oil base primer and top coat. With the paint job only 2 yrs old I can only assume that improper prep, the wrong coatings [or both] were used originally.
 
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Old 11-15-15, 01:43 PM
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Actual peeling after only one year sounds like they may have used an oil based paint directly on aluminum or galvanized metal. If that is the case, you must use the proper primer for those metals after stripping it.
 
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Old 11-15-15, 02:03 PM
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While sand blasting would be great, where do plan on renting a sand blaster and a big enough compressor to run it?
Wire brush off what you can, rusty metal primmer, and Rustoilum paint should work.
And your right, unless you paid a premium price for this trailer and bought one that was powder coated there was no primmer.
I've own at least 10 trailers in the past 20 years, 8 where brand new, all started rusting within a year.
I'm lucky that within 10 miles of my house I have a guy with an outside sand blast booth, he blast it then gives me a call. I show up and prime it then drive it home to paint.
 
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Old 11-15-15, 02:08 PM
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toolmon, it's not aluminum and definitely not galvanized with all the surface rust where the paint has peeled. I should have listened to my gut and built a new trailer like my last one. I built it out of 16 ga. galvanized steel studs and never painted it. After 18 years there was absolutely no rust at all, but I needed a larger trailer with more capacity, so I sold it.

I have an e-mail into Sherwin Williams for a coating system recommendation. I'm quite familiar with their architectural coatings, but I'm thinking maybe one of their industrial coatings might be better.
 
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Old 11-15-15, 02:34 PM
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joecaption, the local rental place shows a sandblaster with portable compressor; I still have to actually go look at it to see if it will do what I want. It also sounds like you don't think any of the moderately priced trailers have a paint job any better than what I got?
 
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Old 11-15-15, 03:17 PM
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You bought a home owners grade trailer, they make them as fast and cheap as possible.
Not worth spending a whole lot of money on.
Once a year wire brush the failing paint, rusty metal primer, and new paint and it will look like new.
Going to spend all most as much of renting the blaster and paint as the trailer cost if you want a paint job that will last forever.
 
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Old 11-15-15, 04:13 PM
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You're right about built fast and cheap; it was $500 and made in China; I really somehow thought it would last longer than a couple years before needing major work. It really does p**s me off that nothing seems to last any more.

But my problem is that what I think is a good quality trailer with a decent paint job appears to be well over $1,000 or aluminum for around $1,500 and up. But (I think!) I can rent a sandblaster with a towable 110 cfm compressor for $215 for the day + the blast media + paint & miscellaneous. If my repaint prices are correct, I think it's worth doing; at almost 67 years old, how much longer before I can't do stuff I need the trailer for??
 
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Old 11-16-15, 03:55 AM
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It sounds like the trailer didn't have proper paint prep along with the wrong coatings. The only downside to using oil base primer/paint is on thin sheetmetal it won't flex with movement and can peel. It shouldn't be an issue on frame steel. With SWP I'd use their industrial enamel for the top coat. It will wear well although darker colors do tend to fade if it sees a lot of sun.

Personally I'd forgo the sandblaster rental. Not sure what they rent but if it doesn't include a pull behind compressor - it's too small. IMO sanding and maybe using a wire wheel should be enough prep to get it ready for paint. Worse case scenario I'd use paint stripper, then sand, prime and enamel.
 
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Old 11-16-15, 04:45 AM
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I too would not bother with a sandblaster.
Wire wheel everything accessible then just hand lightly hand sand tight spots to remove loose paint.
A pressure washer up close and with the pinpoint nozzle will remove most loose paint and get inaccessible locations clean.

What will make a big difference to how the finish looks is if you sand all transitions from solid paint to bare metal.
If you slide your finger across these spots you will feel a very small but definite ridge between them.
These locations if not sanded smooth will make the paint job look bad.
This is an auto body painting trick.....If you look at these transitions before painting they might look pretty rough but the trick is to close your eyes and see if you can feel the transition by sliding your fingers over it.

I will also second the use of Rustoleum enamel rust paint.
Painting small metal things is something I do a lot of and this paint seems be have the best finish and last the longest.
Something I was told recently by a Rustoleum rep but have not confirmed for sure was that the paint formula in the aerosol cans was better than the "same" product in cans.
The reason was that paint in cans meant for spray gun use had more strict VOC rules and had healthier chemicals in it at the expense of durability.

The best finish with metal enamel paints is had by using the same technique that is used for automotive enamel refinishing.
After priming spray two thin coats allowing them to each tack up then spray a final medium wet coat.
The medium wet coat will allow the solvents to come to the surface of the paint giving you a nice even gloss.
The skilled part of this is to apply enough paint to be medium wet but not run......good lighting helps.
If you just go at it and it is uneven you will wind up with a patchwork of satin/gloss areas.

Not sure if this is too much info but this is how to give yourself a body shop looking paint job.
 
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Old 11-16-15, 04:55 AM
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If you slide your finger across these spots you will feel a very small but definite ridge between them
Not certain I would go thru that much effort on a utility trailer but when doing body work I always found it beneficial to use a thin clean cloth between my fingers and the metal .... but then maybe my finger tips are too rough

I also like rustoleum but at least here in the south their enamels seem to fade quicker than some of the others.
 
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Old 11-16-15, 05:39 AM
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I would agree that I would like to get by without sandblasting. The problem is that the trailer frame is made up of 2-1/2" x 2" bent steel channels. I just did some searching and it looks like I can get a 2" wire cup that's chucked into a drill that should get inside the channels. I think I'll try that and sandblasting will be a last resort. I really do want to get all the crappy paint off because if it's coming off on 50% of the trailer now, it's probably only a matter of time before the rest comes loose even though I paint over it. And i don't really much care what the paint looks like as long as it performs; after all, it is only a trailer!

It will be interesting to see what S-W says about a paint system. In the distant past the rep that called on our office (back when they actually came in to update catalogs....remember catalogs??) said they sometimes hesitate to recommend their industrial coatings to non-professionals.

BTW, thank you so much for all the input!
 
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Old 11-16-15, 11:33 AM
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I don't know that there is much difference in how an industrial enamel applies than a coating like rustoleum does. I have no idea what the retail price difference is although my contractor pricing was comparable to rustoleum [maybe a little cheaper] I think industrial enamel dries a little quicker but it's been awhile since I used any.
 
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