I get asked about my Jeep all the time. Questions like can you wax a Jeep Wrangler hardtop, will your Jeep tow a boat, how is your Jeep on the snow and ice, and so on. I love all the attention my 2015 Jeep Wrangler gets me and the opportunity I get to dig for answers I just don’t have right away. An example of one of those questions I recently got was “can you paint a Jeep hardtop?” So, I did just as you are doing, and I turned to the internet to find help. Specifically, in my case, I have a number of scratches my Jeep has earned from the trail. I wanted to know how I could repair the scratches and if I could paint my Jeep hardtop.
Can you paint a Jeep hardtop? Yes, you can, but there are some considerations. Ask yourself why you want to paint the Jeep hardtop, is your Jeep the Rubicon (body finished hardtop) or the Sahara or Unlimited edition. Another consideration could be if your hardtop is stock or aftermarket, depending on your specific situation there could be a much better approach to what I found.
To start the Jeep hardtop painting journey on level ground, I own a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (a.k.a. JKU) and my Jeep is stock from the factory. So, what I share in this article specifically applies to my Jeep Wrangler hardtop. My personal issue is that I want to fix the scars (scratches) that are in my hardtop. In my case, the hardtop is black, and the scratches come through white. The first thing I learned from many forums after I tried myself, is that a Sharpie doesn’t work. Here are three scenarios you might find yourself:
1) Scratch touch up
By far touching up scratches on a Jeep hardtop are the most common question I get. It’s also something I’ve done myself successfully. As I mentioned above the Sharpie trick just doesn’t work. In several Jeep forums and online social media groups, everyone was raving about Mopar’s OEM black touch up paint (see below).
This paint was very easy to apply, and it did a really good job of covering the scratches in my hardtop. Bigger scratches, however, can still be seen as some of the fiberglass material was chewed away by those nasty overhanging rocks and trees. However, that’s mostly because I know the scratches are there.
Just an order of Mopar Jeep Wrangler hard top black touchup paint (if your hardtop is black like mine and some prep and color within the scratches. Pretty simple.
2) Repaint the entire hardtop
This is an entirely other type of project when it comes to painting the Jeep hardtop. Repainting the hardtop either to original stock or to color match your Jeep takes commitment and the willingness either to hire someone to do the job for you, or a ton of patience prep, prep, and prep some more, unless you want the hardtop to look like crap. Here are the steps I would suggest after talking with friends who have done this. Did I mention prep work?
- Clean the hardtop really well. Be sure to remove all the dirt, wax, silicone, grease, armor-all, whatever else might be on it. Use a good detergent, I’d recommend Dawn as it cuts through the grease well, just don’t be skimpy.
- Take a new scotchbrite scouring pad and rough up the entire surface of the hardtop. Any kind of sandpaper will remove the fiberglass material. If a smooth finish body look is what you are after, start sanding now. This is a whole different process to reach perfection and I suggest consulting with Maaco who might do that job for $300-$400
- Be exact as the lines are what make all the difference in the appearance of your paint job. The windows are where the eyes naturally travel. Think about how many times a day you catch your own reflection. One buddy of mine told me the prep work including masking took about 6 hours. However, the look of his JKU hardtop is simply perfect.
- Purchase the right type of paint. This spray paint kit below on Amazon has everything you need.
- Detergent, Bucket, Rags, Water, Small Ladder
- Automotive Spray Paint for Jeep Wrangler Jet Black.
What NOT to do and why
I just wouldn’t try to get a body smooth finish on my own. First, I don’t own the power tools to sand the texture. Second, I don’t have the expertise to get a perfectly smooth surface without waves. Third, a buddy of mine spent all summer prepping his JKU hardtop and I would guess he’s got a hundred hours in sanding. I can have a professional do the job and get a warranty out of the deal. It just doesn’t make sense to me unless you are a DIY type of person.
A Slick Trick – Literally
After you scuff up your hardtop with the scotchbrite pad, wash the hard top again with detergent. Let it dry and spend the time with a quality primer. You want your paint to last as long as possible and not peel. Let the final paint cure for 48 hours even though you probably are good with less time, then apply 303 Spray wax with care.
Can you paint a Jeep hardtop? The answer is yes. Would I ever try painting my hardtop on my own, probably not? Whether you are just touching up some scratches from the trail, or trying to refurbish that new look, painting can be an option.
What are ways I can make me Jeep hardtop look new? Wash it might help. If not, there are a number of products that are available to help restore the new black look to plastics and fiber glass. However, the best way to get the new look is a fresh, professional paint job.
Can I sandblast a Jeep Wrangler hardtop? No. too much heat could cause warping. However, media blasting with walnut shells could be an alternative to consider. However, I don’t know anyone who has done it, and nothing is clear online as to what a media blast might do to the Jeep hardtop. Proceed with caution.
Can I paint the stock Jeep fenders? Yes. Again, be prepared for prep work.