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Old 07-11-2008, 07:36 PM
ZsX5o3's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Connecticut
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Two-Tone Interior Mod for e53

In this tutorial, we will be turning a factory grey, or tan interior into the color scheme of a "Truffle Brown" factory interior, as pictured below.

The first step in this tutorial, for me at least was to map out exactly what I wanted to do in photoshop, and tested to be sure it would look as I wanted it to look as a final result. You may skip this step if you find it unnecessary. If you have a black interior (full black) then there may be a way for you to accomplish this color scheme with simply dyeing all of your leather, including all of your seats, armrests, and door padding. However I have not seen any leather dyes which are adequate for going from black to a lighter color. Additionally, if you have a light colored head liner, I cannot tell you the necessary steps to take in order to change it to black, but I would recommend replacing it with an OEM black headliner, if this step is important to you.

Onto the tutorial. Things you will need.

SEMs Landau Black(15013) Vynil & Plastic dye. This can be had from most auto body paint supply stores. Avoid walmart brands such as dupli-color at all costs. If you can't find a local retailer for SEMs than you can order online from www.levineautoparts.com simply enter the product code I listed in the search tab. You may use up to 10 cans of this. It is the closest OEM matched color, and the highest recommended product for painting vynil in automobiles. If you choose to use a different color, then feel free! I'd love to see it but I still recommend using SEMs brand.

Next is to get some good painters tape that is suitable for vynil and plastics. Regular painters tape will not hold well and it is imperative that we have the best tape possible. How well your project turns out will be a direct result of the accuracy of your taping job.

You will also need a roll of plastic from your local hardware store suitable for covering large areas during painting.

Lastly, you will need a clean and well ventilated area that is suitable for painting.

First step will be to remove your door panels, there are many write ups for this mostly for replacing your window regulators, but I would recommend viewing this tutorial BSW has put on youtube in congruence with their 10 speaker installation. view it here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=y25x6gIIgPE

Now having your door panel off, we can begin taping. Be sure to remove your window button, and ashtrays(rear doors only). Now tape off every part of the leather on your door, like so. You may want to paint the armrest, and only have the side panel painted, but #1 this is not the OEM pattern, and #2 I believe this is leather and can give no guarantee of how well the SEMs paint will adhere to it.

You need to clean the door panel extremely well, with soap and water. SEMs makes a prep for removing any excess grease and it will raise absolutely all of the oil out of your vynil for maximum adhesion. I stopped using this product after the first couple of panels, because I felt it was leaving the vynil too rough. If you want to, you can use it.

Now onto painting. I was at first very stubborn, the can says to lay down 3 coats with 10 minute intervals. Well, I didn't like how it felt tacky in between so all my years of experience with painting got the best of me and I sanded between coats with a thin piece of teflon. Do not do this! It is perfectly normal for the paint to be tacky in between coats. Lay down your first coat as a very light mist, do not try to get good coverage on your panel. Let it sit for 10 minutes, and come back with your second coat, a bit thicker but not too thick. Here is how mine looked after the second coat.

On the third coat, look for any light spots. Some quick spray painting tips: Do not start or stop the spray directly on your panel. Start next to it and end off the other side. Keep the angle of your can even throughout the whole time.

The can suggests that you allow 24 hours for the paint to dry before handling, I would recommend at least 48. I had some of my parts out for an entire week and I'm glad I gave it that long. After 48 hours, slowly and carefully remove your tape. Here is an example of a finished door panel.

(the flash may bring out flaws the human eye cannot catch) I did the ash trays seperately, but you may want to leave them a different color. Be creative, you're painting your car, might as well fulfill any desire you may have ever had with your interior.

After all 4 of my door panels were finished, I began to remove the center console, this was a big job! You can use Loophole's tutorial for this found on the homepage. Remove the trim panels and paint them seperately (no taping required!) Also remove door pillars and trim pieces. The door panels are likely the hardest part as it requires very accurate taping and elaborate dismantling. Allow 48 hours for all pieces to dry. You may want to add 4-5 light coats on the floor trim pieces as this will be a high traffic area.

(Note: you may want to skip this step) Next is to remove your seats. Slide the seat all the way back, and remove the two 5/8" (if I remember correctly) nuts on the front, and slide the seat completely forward to remove the 2 bolts on the back. The seats disconnect with only 1 connector underneath each. *If you do not have your battery disconnected and you put the key in the ignition while seats are out* you will set off an airbag light.

You may choose to remove the trim pieces from the seats, or tape them off very well. I personally wasn't comfortable with dismantling the entire seat so I taped off. The back piece is the easiest to remove, if you so choose to paint this part. One thing I noticed is the SEMs tape is not as durable on thin/smooth plastic parts, like the bottom of your seats(where your power seat controls are) I would recommend that you skip this step, and leave this part gray, or whatever color you are coming from.
Here is the finished product of the seat completely painted(everything that isn't leather)

Next step was to color code the bottom half of my dash board. I learned that this part was not completely detachable, aside from the glove compartment(you can remove and spray this seperately, it is a bit tough to remove). So, being that I could not detach my dashboard, I didn't feel comfortable spraying it inside the car. I bought a quart of SEMs landau black in liquid form(I'm also glad I bought this as it was great for touch ups). This stuff is meant to be sprayed from a paint gun, so #1 it should be shaken very well, and #2 we are going to need to apply extremely thin coats. I used a foam applicator(like a paint brush with a foam tip instead of bristles). Remove your climate control unit + radio, light switch and trim pieces. Tape off starting under your trim pieces as you don't want to paint over the OEM black dashboard or steering wheel. Unfortunately I do not have a picture of my dash taped off. Use your plastic canvas to cover everything you tape. Apply 3 thin coats with your foam applicator between 10 minute intervals, just as you did with the spray. If you do not use thin coats here the paint will run, and it will look very bad. If you do get runs, be sure to mop them up with the brush asap.

At first, this will look bright, but after 48 hours, it will tone down to look OEM. If your car is as old as mine(2001) it will likely look newer than your OEM black dash and you will be scrambling to get it looking as clean as your newly painted dash. Here is a picture of my dash after 24 hours.

We are almost done! At this point you should have everything still removed from your car. Now you have the option to tackle your carpets. I've seen two-toned cars with similar color schemes that still have gray carpets, with black floormats (or another color combination). It does not look bad, but if you're going for absolute OEM look, you may want to change them. It will be about $750+ to have them proffesionally changed out. You may want to change them out yourself, I have no experience with this, so I went with the quicker solution of dyeing them. There are dyeing kits which can be bought online, or you can use the cheaper solution of dupli-color. I have used, and seen other cars who have used this stuff before. It goes on very thick, and gives you good coverage. If you use this, or another product, be sure to follow the directions exactly. You will likely be told to brush in the product, spray one way, brush that way(with a durable nylon brush) spray the other way, then brush that way. After a few hours of letting the carpet dry, vacuum aggressively. After that, lay down your second coat, wait a few hours and again, vacuum aggressively, spend at least 3 minutes vaccuming each section before laying down another coat. This will assure you get the paint, or dye deep in the fabric. If you use a very rich black (as I did) then it will be hard to keep clean, I would recommend a charcoal color for this. However, If you can afford to replace the carpet completely with an OEM fabric, and have the resources to accomplish it, then this is the best way to go.

Here is a picture of my X completely covered (both sides of door panels) and taped off. You will see the two bowls of coffee, this really eliminates the smell of paint/dye in under 24 hours.

Allow at least 24 hours for your carpet to dry before reinstalling your trim and paneling. You will probably want to order new floor mats to match the color you've changed your carpet to. Do this before you dye your carpets(if you dye them) so that you won't have to consider driving around without them and dirtying up your newly dyed carpets(please don't do this). I only drive my car on weekends, or for long trips, so I was less worried about wearing them out, but I imagine in high trafficed areas they will be worn and need some touching up in the future.

That's it! Here are some photos of the end results.

Some questions you may have:

Q. Doesn't your car smell like paint now?

A. Not at all! Just be sure to have at least 1 bowl of fresh coffee grounds in there for the first day or two, and the smell will be eliminated. When I step into the X the only thing I can smell is my leather, as it was before I began painting.

Q. I have no experience with painting, should I attempt this?

A. Only if you are a very meticulous individual. The most important part will be the accuracy of your taping. You can learn to spray paint by simply buying some cheap stuff and practicing on other vynil or plastic surfaces.

Q. Did your vynil panels lose the factory finish after painting them?

A. No. This was a major concern of mine. I was worried the grooves in the vynil would disapear and I would be looking at a blank piece of black plastic. This didn't happen at all, everything remained the same, just be sure to prep your panels as well as possible before painting.

Q. Do you regret doing this?

A. Not at all! My car was nothing special before, aside from having sport seats, now it looks like a special edition model.

Q. Did you make any mistakes?

A. I think I broke my rear window regulator while putting my door panel back on, but it may have been an inevitable failure. Other than that my only mistake was sanding, be sure to do exactly as the can says and not be stubborn as I was!

That's it! Feel free to pm me regarding any questions you have if you tackle this mod.


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