So there has been much discussion and many threads about this, so I decided to make a detailed how to based on what I did, what I should have done, suggestions I've received, what I could have done, and what I did wrong. So here goes:
For 93-98 ZJ, with gray body cladding (on Laredo models)
Performed on a black 95 Laredo with gray body cladding and bumpers.
-I don't cover taking the body cladding and bumpers off the vehicle. I didn't want to break the easy-to-break clips, and this saves some time. If you want, give yourself an extra few hours to carefully take the body cladding and bumpers off to paint that way. It probably is easier. But for people like me who have the luck to probably break clips and don't want to, this is for you.
-This is for people with limited resources who want it to look good. It won't be professional, there will be imperfections unless you're a great painter. But overall it will be completely worth the time and effort.
-I have read that the 93-95 cladding is rougher than the 96-98, therefore does not require sanding. I don't know this, but I do know that the 95 has rough and porous cladding that bonds and absorbs paint well.
What you will need:
1. 6 cans of spray paint for two coats, 8 for three coats. (I was able to do one coat with about two and a half cans)
-I used Rustoleum Satin Black #7777. People have used Krylon Fusion as well, and even spray-on bedliner. I chose Rustoleum because people have said it is very durable. People use bedliner to wash mud off easier, but it fades quickly and does not look as good. Looks or function, your choice
2. Soap and water. Wash your cladding THOROUGHLY and allow to dry COMPLETELY. This is an important step if you want the paint to look good and you're not going to do it the professional way (pro cleaning solvents and chemicals).
3. Primer if you wish. I did not use primer because my cladding is in good shape and porous and adheres to the paint well. I don't think it is necessary. And i'm just cheap
4. Painter's Blue masking tape. Does exactly what it says its supposed to do
5. Masking paper, large tarps, or large sheets of paper for masking entire vehicle
6. Fine sandpaper in case of mistakes 300 should do it.
7. Latex gloves so that you don't get paint on your hands.
7. An entire day (wake up at 9AM to finish before dark!)
1. Prepare you area. The entire floor where you are working will be covered in a mist of paint, so prepare for that, either do it on a floor that you don't care about or cover it completely. I would also wear clothes that you don't care about.
2. Mask off your ZJ. **WARNING EDITED** the amount pictured WILL NOT suffice to cover overspray
. You can't see it on the final product, I didn't notice for a whole month, but you can feel the overspray all the way to the roof of the zj. Mask your ENTIRE ZJ unless you just don't care about your paint. Like i said you can't notice it unless you rub your finger over the body.
Be sure to take your time and mask carefully. Cover everything that should be covered, picture yourself spraying and cover what you might hit. But also allow as much of your painting surface to be shown. Put newspaper through the 'teeth' in the lower part of your front bumper to protect your radiator. I would suggest lifting the rear hatch and tape on the inside to make the paper stay off the plastic, get the paper under the grille and lights to avoid spraying them. Above all, take your time, pay attention to detail. And cover those wheels!
3. Begin painting your first coat. Just follow your regular painting rules, smooth, even strokes, steady rhythm. Avoid overspraying in one spot and blotching or running, but if you do accidently in the first coat, you can use sandpaper to sand it smooth for your second coat. Aim to use about 2 and one half cans of paint. Allow to dry for 1-2 hours or until paint is dry to touch.
4. Look for imperfections and sand them smooth.
5. Begin painting your second coat. Be very smooth as you will not be able to sand down mistakes unless you want to paint a third coat.
6. If you're impatient, you can peel off the masking and tape about 2 or 3 hours after you are done, it should be mostly dry by then. I would wait for the paint to completely dry so you do not accidently mess up the paint, 24-36 hours. Allow it to stay in a vented garage, out of the elements and breeze so that nothing messes up the paint. It should look like this after drying 3-4 hours.
Post questions or your suggestions, hopefully this will be helpful to people wishing to paint their old, faded gray body cladding