CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

What do you think of painting the bed of a pickup with oil-based primer?

I have most of a gallon of a good-quality oil-based primer for house interior/exterior. I have worn out many varieties of paint on the bed of my pickup. If this stuff would work for a while without causing a problem I would rather slather it on the bed of my pickup than discard it. I don’t care about the color. It’s an '87 Toyota pickup.

If you’re asking for permission from us to paint your truck bed, go for it. I see no harm it could possibly do to your truck. It will only add a layer of rust prevention.

Most primers are porous by design so paint will adhere to it well. That makes it prone to absorb moisture and may actually hasten rusting. If your going to use it, follow with a coat of compatible paint to seal it, but don’t use it by itself.

I agree with DfromSD. It’s almost useless to use any primer as a final coat. Be sure and follow it up. Also, preparation is paramount. Just throwing it on with out taking care of existing rust can cause more problems. Personally, I would think about coating both sides, inner and outer with grease or oil and throwing a piece of plywood or large rubber mat over the top.

And primer will keep anything from sliding around, that would make it hard to load and unload.

You can use it if you want. But I don’t think it will stick unless you sand the bed first. If it all you use it will suck water thru it and cause rust. I once had a 52 Chevy come in for restore work. It had house paint and primer on it. While it look good. The rust under the primer you could tell was caused by wicking water thru it. It also came off with a power washer. The owner was lucky it was just surface rust.

A quart of paint for metal doesn’t cost too much and won’t peel off as fast as house paint. Don’t use red house paint if that’s the color because it will fade to pink before you know it.

Let’s face it. The needs for your truck bed and for your home are two totally different things. You could end up making things more difficult in the long run.

Seems like everyone is missing the point that it is a 1987 Toyota and you’ve “wore out many varieties of paint” already on the bed. Unless the rest of the truck is pristine, you will not cause any damage to this truck bed that will affect the worth, drivability or safety. If the current paint is down to the metal, you will prevent rust and add a layer of protection. I’d be happy if my stuff didn’t slide around in the bed while taking sharp turns, stopping, etc. You’ll be killing two birds by getting the added bonus of a non-skid surface, much cheaper than a rhino liner. You’ll be saving the environment by keeping that paint out of the landfill. In my opinion, you’d be negligent if you didn’t paint your truck bed with that primer. Matter of fact, if you decide not to use it, send it to me and I’d be happy to paint the bed of my truck with it!

@bennyandthejets

“If the current paint is down to the metal, you will prevent rust and add a layer of protection.”

Not true! Primer will not do either one of these things if it’s not top coated.

I’ve used oil based house paint on a metal shed and slopped oil based house paint in the bed of my ol’ pickup and none of it ever peeled or came off in any manner. It actually worked beautifully in both applications. It was still good on the shed after 13 years (when the house got sold) and still good on the pickup for many years. Never pretty, but still intact and holding.

Have a ball.

That it would make the bed more likely to rust is something I didn’t think about. I don’t have paint to put on top of it and don’t want to buy paint. It’s a Zinnser sealing primer. On my drywall it looks like a shiny non-porous surface; the latex paint I put on top didn’t seem to absorb, but I may not can tell. Will it wick moisture?

There’s only a little bit of surface rust which I would sand off. It’s not bad, but that’s because I keep on top of any problem. It’s getting time to paint now but it’s not too late.

I would respectfully disagree that oil based primers are porous. Primers function to seal the pores in wood and create an even surface to apply topcoat to. Properly used, primers can also prevent the tannens in wood from seeping out, preventing stains from knotholes. Without primers, pain can readily seep into a base surface, especially on wood.

Oil based house primers won’t absorb moisture or promote rot. If you’d like more assurance, visit any paint website and they’ll tell you the same thing.

When using a gloss, oil-based enamel paint or varnish, I have found that adding a product called “Penetrol” made by the Flood company GREATLY improves the paints qualities…At first it seems expensive to use but when you consider you are turning a gallon into 5 quarts of much better paint it’s not so bad…

While my experience is actually in automotive finishes, I assumed oil based would be the same, but I could be wrong. I’ve seen the results of people who thought it would be a good idea to store their car in auto. primer over the winter and it ends up with more rust than they started with. The exception would be epoxy primer which can be left uncoated and actually makes a pretty good frame paint.

If it were me I would do a spray in bedliner product, 100 bucks well spent.

There was a book called Mister Manager that addressed disasters that happened when people tried to do anything with ANYTHING. Sometimes the fun was totally unexpected, sometimes definitely going to happen. Not wanting to waste paint was one of the worst reasons in that book.

The point we may not be missing is in the form of a question. Why does every category of mistake have to be explained in order to prevent an accident? The other question has to do with the accident happenning any way even with a full explanation. I’m used to giving good advice and having people argue with me. No problem. Use your own judgement. You will find that you have some of it if you try to use it.

What could go wrong? That question often comes right before the ambulance.

I like another great saying. If it has to be explained to you, you ain’t listening. I have had to have too many things explained to me in the past. Good thing I listened to 20% of those explanations. Sometimes 20% will save you from some cuts and bruises. Next question. How can I tell which 20% to listen to? There are some questions in this universe for which there are simply no (satisfactory) answers. Maud Dib in the book Children of Dune. Is it bad to use “wrong” stuff? You won’t know if you don’t try.

All you have to do is figure out which 20% of what I wrote is helpful. Good luck, at least the OP asked the question. Hope he doesn’t want specifics. I will only give hints today. Funny about that, usually it’s opinions.