Can You Paint Carbon Fiber? 4 Easy Steps Painting of Carbon Fiber

Can you paint carbon fiber? Why should you paint carbon fiber? Well, you should know that painting carbon fiber is not the same as painting the body of a car and in this post, I have detailed information on painting carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber is a rigid construction and lightweight material; that’s why many engineers favor it over steel during manufacturing.

Apart from its strength, it has high chemical resistance, stiffness, tensile strength, and low thermal expansion.

The material has many uses in auto manufacture, aircraft, and sporting equipment. Regardless of where you use it, can you paint carbon fiber? 

Yes, you can paint carbon fiber. However, Carbon fiber is unlike other materials hence you will need to take extra care when painting it.

For the very best results, you will need to use a special paint designed for use on carbon fiber! Before painting your carbon fiber, ensure that the surface is clean and free of dirt or any for of debris.

You can use a mild detergent and water to clean the surface of carbon fiber or a specialized cleaning solution designed for carbon fiber.

Like you would expect in any painting task, you must remain vigilant, follow instructions to the letter to get the best out of your investment.

Keep reading to learn more about painting carbon fiber. 

What Is Carbon Fiber?

Can You Paint Carbon Fiber? 
a Carbon Fiber

Carbon fibersalso known as CF, or graphite fibers, are fibers measuring 5 to 10 micrometers (0.00020–0.00039 in) in diameter and contain mostly carbon atoms.

Carbon fibers offer many advantages like high stiffness, tensile strength, top strength-to-weight ratio, high chemical resistance, low thermal expansion, and high-temperature tolerance.

These properties of carbon fiber have made it useful in civil engineering, aerospace, motorsport, military, and other competitive sports.

Carbon fibers are expensive when expensive compared to similar fibers, like glass fiber, plastic fibers, or basalt fibers.

During the production of carbon fibers, the carbon atoms bond in crystals aligned parallel to the fiber’s long axis. 

The crystal alignment in the process gives the fiber a high strength-to-volume ratio ( the carbon is strong for its size). 

Many thousand carbon fibers are bundled together, forming a tow that can be used independently or woven into a fabric.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Carbon Fiber? 

Carbon fiber is among the most difficult surfaces to paint. Since its material is woven together, this product is bound to soak up paint at an amazing rate.

As such, the deformities on its surface will likely show through if you use the wrong type of paint. So which type of paint will hold up to carbon fiber? Usually, epoxy-based paint will provide a masterly finish to carbon fiber surfaces.

Nonetheless, other typical options can also work on carbon fiber, provided they meet the requirements. 

Can You Change the Color of Carbon Fiber? 

By default, carbon fiber is always black. But you can change its color by simply painting over its surface or blending it with something else. 

Alternatively, you can tint the clear coat of carbon fiber to change its color. 

Can Carbon Fiber Spoiler be Painted? 

A spoiler is an essential part of a vehicle as it helps to increase the car’s grip on the road and manage airflow.

If your car lacks a spoiler, it will be heavier and difficult to drive, reducing fuel efficiency. 

So, can you paint a carbon fiber spoiler?

Yes, you can paint your car’s carbon spoiler. If you have never done that before, ensure that you call an expert to do it for you, as the process requires special care. 

The following tips should brief you about the steps involved in painting a carbon fiber spoiler. 

  • The first step is withdrawing the carbon fiber spoiler from its default position.

Then lay it on a horizontal surface and start to sand it evenly on the entire surface. It’s best to use your hand against the sandpaper rather than utilizing an air sander or sanding block.

  • Next, take a wire hanger, untangle it, and carve a small hook on one end. Then put the hooked end inside a bolt hole of the carbon fiber spoiler.

Hang it from an elevated position to make all confines of the spoiler accessible for painting. Also, hanging it high prevents the spoiler from reaching the ground while painting. 

  • After that, take a twist masking tape and position it inside all bolt and screw holes. By doing so, they won’t get crammed with paint and primer.

Follow with wiping down the carbon fiber spoiler with a grease remover and wax using a microfiber towel.

This also aids in removing the lingering sanding dust, grease, and oil from your hands. 

  • The next step is spraying a primer layer on your carbon fiber spoiler. After that, let it dry for an hour, then remove it from the hanger and position it on a polished surface.

Next, raise the bottom part of your spoiler and insert newspapers underneath to act as a cushion. 

  • Repeat sanding the entire carbon fiber spoiler in a sweeping motion not to peel off the coat of primer. Make sure you use 300 grit sandpaper to perform light sanding.

Once you have finished, take the spoiler and hang it again, then use a grease remover to clean it. 

  • The carbon fiber spoiler should now be ready for painting. Before you begin, shake the paint thoroughly since it might have solidified.

Then Go after your paint and begin to spray the first coat. You will want to begin with a thin coat for the paint to dry quickly. 

  • Wait for the paint to attach to the surface, then give it roughly 15 to 30 minutes to dry. After that, spray an additional thin coat of paint and distribute it evenly from one side to the other. 
  • If necessary, go on with a third coat, let it dry, then peel off the tape from the bolt holes. Give your carbon fiber spoiler ample time to dry before mounting it on your car. 

Do You Paint a Carbon Fiber Hood? 

A carbon fiber hood is formulated to keep your car running at its absolute best. It is a blend of light and strong strands molded to any shape to bring about rigid materials and more.

There are endless carbon fiber hood benefits, but can you paint over a carbon fiber hood? Unfortunately, you can’t paint on a carbon fiber hood since it arrives already applied with a protective clear coat

How Do You Paint Fake Carbon Fiber? 

As a modeler, you must get accustomed to creating new looks using paint. However, the most challenging task is to paint on fake carbon fiber to make it look realistic.

It’s a job that you won’t get done with ease, especially if you are an amateur in this particular field of expertise. Fortunately, following the painting techniques below can give anything a carbon fiber look. 

Step 1: Preparation

As usual, it’s best to begin by cleaning the surface you plan to paint. Use a grease remover to remove any dirt on the surface, then dry it with a clean rag. 

Step 2: Priming

Use a high-quality primer to apply to the fake carbon fiber. Ensure you apply a generous layer, then spread it all along the surface.

If you leave out some areas, repeat applying another coat without disregarding any hidden parts. 

Step 3: 

Next, wrap tights on the surface to obtain the desired pattern, but ensure you don’t over-stretch. It’s even better to do panel by panel exactly when masking off other areas that you don’t want to catch the paint. 

Step 4:

The final step is to spray an even coat of silver-gold mix on the surface. After that, finish with a light coat of semi gloss clear coat such as a bronze-looking carbon finish.

And ensure you adjust the ratio of silver to gold to attain distinct looks. 

This approach is cheaper and fun too. 

Here’s How to Paint “fake” Carbon Fiber:

Can You Strip Paint from Carbon Fiber? 

Usually, stripping paint from carbon fiber is usually not a DIY project, but you can try it.

You must be cautious enough and disregard using paint strippers or other chemicals to remove the paint.

Such products are bound to attack the resin system and typically wear out your carbon fiber. 

It’s best to wet sand the carbon fiber manually, even though it will take up much of your time. Still, you must be accurate to avoid inflicting more damage, thus adding to the cost. 

Note: Never use harsh chemicals to strip paint from carbon fiber. Such chemicals will ravage the epoxy resin which holds the fibers in place. 

Can Carbon Fiber Be Powder Coated? 

Due to the benefits of powder coating surfaces, it’s easy to acknowledge why individuals favor it for most jobs. Unfortunately, the main disadvantage of powder coating is that you must cure it in a hot oven.

So despite carbon fiber being a great beneficiary of powder coating, it won’t tolerate the high temperatures in an oven. Therefore, I don’t recommend the powder coating of carbon fiber because the top layer will begin to melt down. 

Do You Need a Primer for Carbon Fiber? 

Today, most people are divided about whether you need to prime carbon fiber or not. The truth remains that you will only need a primer if you are painting over raw carbon fiber.

However, if your carbon fiber surface still has the default paint, it’s wise to prime it again.  


Preparation is paramount when priming your carbon fiber surface for better adhesion. 

Suppose you intend to prime over bright colors; opt for white primers. Black primer will make the colors seem darker not until you utilize too much paint after priming. 

Can You Clear Coat Carbon Fiber? 

Carbon fiber creates a very strong material that is lightweight when weaved together.

However, its beautiful sheen can quickly fade and deteriorate when subjected to extreme UV without a protectant.

So how do you protect it? The best way to prevent your carbon fiber surface from deteriorating is by clear coating it. The clear coat serves to protect the carbon fiber from fading. 

Therefore, you must look for a protectant rated for carbon fiber surfaces. A good example is ceramic coatings, which are durable and exhibit chemical resistant traits. 

How Do You Refinish Carbon Fiber? 

Carbon fiber is widely used in so many applications. However, it’s interesting to know that carbon fiber requires extra care to guarantee longevity.

Failing to do so, the carbon fiber might start to wear out over time. As such, you will eventually count losses on your expensive product. 

So if the exterior finish on your carbon fiber starts to exhibit signs of degrading, you aren’t out of luck.

The good thing is you can save it from further damage by refinishing the surface. Find out how to refinish carbon fiber by sifting through the guidelines below. 

The initial step is to sand the clear coat on your carbon fiber to the point where the surface blemishes are peeled off.

Suppose the blemishes are extreme; it would help peel off the clear coat’s entire leaf. 

As you sand the surface, you will want to watch out for the color of the residue, whether it’s yellow or white. If that’s not the case, it implies that you are sanding the weave. 

So you must proceed with caution and try not to sand the carbon fiber weave. Instead, only peel off the clear coat. 

After sanding off the ravaged clear coat, wipe down the surface using a lint-free cloth soaked in denatured alcohol. This should help to clean the lingering blemishes. 

Next, spray a new clear coat on your carbon fiber. You will want to keep the nozzle merely 6 to 8 inches apart from the workpiece.

This way, you will have ample space to apply multiple coats to a point the clear coat creates a smooth surface. 

However, don’t be too anxious to apply the clear coat hastily, as this will establish runs. And as a result, you will have to sand it smooth again once cured. 

Finally, allow the carbon fiber to dry before you touch it. Also, wait for it to cure before you polish it. 

Final Thoughts

We have seen that carbon fiber is a prevalent material used in a myriad of applications.

This product brags outstanding versatility, plus its lightweight design makes it a better pick in today’s automotive.

However, you have to pay for its convenience, given that the price is way too high. You can use many ways to enhance your carbon fiber’s look, but…

Can You Paint Carbon Fiber? 

Yes, painting carbon fiber is possible and should be done the right way. Ensure that you are using the right paint for carbon fiber.

Also, ensure that you do proper surface preparation for the best results.

For preparation, clean the surface to remove dust particles, you can use clean water and a detergent designed for cleaning of carbon fiber if possible.

At this point, I would like to thank you so much for reading through this post. If you have any startling questions, it would be best to reach out in the comment section.

In the meantime, take pleasure in your painting job.