DIY: Valve Cover Painting

Jan 26

Valve cover painting is one of my favorite diy’s.  Granted it’s nothing fancy like powder coating, it still adds something cool to the unique setup.  I try to make each valve cover bit different from the other.

To clean, prepare & paint a valve cover expect to spend good 7-8 hours of mostly wait time and about 1.5-2 hours of actual work… Ensure you get about 3 coats of paint with some breaks between for each stage.

Let’s start…

1. Clean up the valve cover using degreaser, 400 grit paper, steel brush if needed – avoid creating scratches.

Afterwards wash degreaser off with water, dry it or blow out with air gun.  Tape off the cover top openings to prevent overspray from getting in (follow the shape of the oil cap).

2. Use vaseline to mark off areas you don’t want painted, such as lettering.

3. Use filler/primer to spray the cover – hopefully wet-sandable – if you spot uneven surfaces, use wet sandpaper to smooth it out. If you can’t find filler-primer combo, extra oversprays with some time out can help to make surface even. Afterwards let it dry.

4. Spray it with your high-temperature favorite color – in this case I chose orangy-red (lol tang? I am not good with color naming).

5. For the 3d feel / effect, I used mesh – ensure it’s tight (can use elastics) to give you good spread out pattern.

6. Overspray with another color – this time choose a darker color so that when you remove the mesh, the net effect will create lighter mesh effect.

7. After spraying few layers, leave it for a while with the mesh on.. once it hardens, gently peel the mesh away from surface – you will see the 3d effect and also bottom color will now show up as a grid.

8. Have a favorite sticker you would like to embed into your valve cover? Ensure it is a sticker with a shape – as the shape will transfer to the cover. Gently stick it on.. you can put very little bit of vaseline on the back of the sticker for easy removal. Just ensure that vaseline doesn’t spread over any surface areas or paint won’t grip there.

9. For this step, I’ve decided to create an effect of dark lettering on light background. I’ve measured out and created a spray rectangle over the lettering & sprayed 3 layers (with some time between) over the stickers and anything in that rectangle.

10. Now using exacto knife.. gently peel away the letter stickers..
As for nissan lettering.. Use qtip to rub off the paint – since the vaseline is below the paint, the paint will simply drop off the areas where you applied vaseline.. Use small paint brush to finish off the edges around lettering – it will remove the excess pieces you may have missed.

I found as an added protection – clear coat helps and surprisingly stands temperature well – spray 2-3 times (again with dry time between) – it will add more protection to the paint.

Here is the big shot for upclose…

Click here

And here is another valve cover done using similar but slightly different techniques.

And here they are for comparison…

Click here

And one more gloss-black for the new engine build…



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