Fiberglass reinforced plastic panels, or FRP panels, are used in a variety of situations, including industrial, medical, restaurant, high wear and high abuse areas. However, new designs are making this a popular choice for homeowners as well. Sometimes you will have FRP panels installed, but want to change the color – here is how to paint FRP panels.
- Hand sander with 150 grit sandpaper
- Protective eyewear and mask
- TSP cleaner
- Paint roller, tray, bucket and brush
- Paint – oil-based or acrylic, depending on the application
Step 1 - Preparation
FRP panels are designed to be cleaned repeatedly and abused, so preparation for paint is important. Clean thoroughly with TSP, rinse and let dry. Use protective eyewear and facemask at all times when working with fiberglass. Using a hand sander and 150 grit sandpaper, scuff the entire area thoroughly. It should feel rough to the touch all over. Make sure you sand any moldings, joint pieces and edges. Wipe clean and remove all dust.
Step 2 - Priming Your FRP Panels
If possible, use the manufacturers recommended primer. For industrial, food grade and other extreme use areas a 2 part epoxy primer and paint is a recommended. For restaurants and other public places check on local building codes for painting over your FRP panels. For homeowners and do-it-yourselfers applying a fast drying oil-based primer will do the trick. Using a brush and paint roller, apply an even coat over the surface and let dry. This will leave you with a flat surface that can accept paint. Please remember to use a proper face mask whenever you work with fiberglass, oil based paints or solvents – your health is important. Hint: Airless paint sprayers can be used to apply both primer and paint. However, you will need to clean thoroughly between each coat if you plan on using an oil based primer and a latex paint. Do not use aerosol can spray primer, as it is not durable enough for this application.
Step 3 - Applying the Paint to Your Panels
Once you have decided, what color to use, it's time to apply the paint to your panels. Since FRP panels are generally installed in high wear in high moisture areas, a semi gloss paint is generally recommended. If you are painting in a restaurant, car wash, public building or other extremely high wear area, consider using an oil based paint. This will require several coats, with 24 hours of drying time in between. Oil based paints can be applied with airless sprayers, or a low nap or foam roller for best results. Acrylic semigloss can also be used. Start at the top and cut in with a brush, use your roller to apply an even coat to large surfaces. Depending on the color, it might take several coats to get an even finish. Note: FRP panels are installed using silicone caulk around the edges, and in between joints for moisture protection. This means your primer and paint might not stick to it, and bead up after application. Let these areas dry, and apply a thin layer of acrylic caulk on top. Let that dry thoroughly, and it will accept the paint.
Painting FRP panels can change the look of an area, without the hassle and expense of replacing them. FRP panels are extremely durable, so a painting facelift is a great way to extend their use.