hot rod hyundai
October 12, 2006 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Help me vandalize my wife's car!

While my wife is away, I would like to paint flames on the side of her black '01 Hyundai. I would brush paint it on, but I would like the colors to be very vivid and opaque.

Difficulty: It has to wash off with soap and water once the expected merriment is acheived. I would be in pretty big trouble if it didn't.

Any ideas what kind of paint would work for this?
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Instead of paint, some sort of printed vinyl overlay like they use for ads on cars is the way to go. It will look like paint and peel right off when you're done.
posted by cardboard at 3:46 PM on October 12, 2006

Looking at goolgle, there are even magnetic flame kits, which would be even easier to install, though you're looking at $50 or so.
posted by cardboard at 3:50 PM on October 12, 2006

Cheap artists' acrylic will do this. Test a patch first.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:50 PM on October 12, 2006
posted by gummo at 3:53 PM on October 12, 2006

"Want to add flames to your car for the weekend?"

That was supposed to go with the link I posted.
posted by gummo at 3:53 PM on October 12, 2006

DO NOT use acrylic paint! Yes, it's water-soluble, but once it dries, it turns into a rubbery plastic which will not rinse off (if it comes off at all), and you may damage the car's finish, especially if you park it in the sun--the sun will leave a "tan line" in the paint and you'll have to use rubbing compound to remove it.

I'd recommend cheap vinyl graphics that can be peeled off once the joke is over. If you must paint the car, use poster paint (it's that cheap, water-soluble paint you used in kindergarten and grade school) and thin (mix in) it with liquid laundry detergent. Paint the car the evening before the gag and keep it out of the sun as much as possible so you don't damage the paint. After the gag, you can just hose it off.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:02 PM on October 12, 2006

There are magnetic flame kits, which are easy but don't cover much of the car. And there are giant vinyl flame decals (or decals of whatever else you can imagine), which are a bit of a PITA to apply, but look relatively painted-on and come in sizes big enough to give you a lot of coverage.
posted by adamrice at 4:16 PM on October 12, 2006

You can get flames, bullet-holes (for both body and windows), cat paw-prints, and bird poop from here.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 4:16 PM on October 12, 2006

posted by dorian at 4:43 PM on October 12, 2006

I'd suggest bodypaints if off-the-shelf magnetic decals aren't an option. But bodypaint would only work with a bodypaint fixer (a spray that forms a transparent layer, much like varnish, that can either protect paint or form a base for another layer, but it comes off with soap and water). You'd probably need to start with a layer of fixer, layer of white, fixer, colours. (you probably also want to test the fixer to make sure there is no reaction with the car's wax)

However, good bodypaints aren't cheap, and by this point, the off-the-shelf decals are probably cheaper, and certainly much quicker.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:15 PM on October 12, 2006

Spray Chalks work great for this... any Cost-Mart store will have it, applies just like spray paint
posted by hatsix at 5:24 PM on October 12, 2006

You guys are (mostly) nuts. M.C. Lo-Carb!, go to any local sign franchise and they should be able to do it in vinyl; as long as you don't keep it on there for years, it will peel right off without leaving residue, especially if they have low-tack vinyl.

Using any kind of paint for a temporary decoration is fucking insane.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:41 PM on October 12, 2006

fandango_matt is wrong about acrylics. You can paint artists acrylic paint on most things shiney (I have painted on glass, metal, ceramics etc) and it will peel right off like PVA glue afterwards ("rubbery plastic," as mentioned above.) I have spent a while experimenting with building layers of this paint on different sufaces for various art projects and it peels right off very easily. There is no way water soluble artists acrylic paint will affect the paint job on a car, and it can be peeled off afterwards.

The tanline part is correct however, and the climate where you live as well as the length of time the decoration remains on the car has to be taken into consideration.
posted by fire&wings at 5:56 PM on October 12, 2006

While artist's acrylic may indeed easily peel off the surface, it also may not, and will be an absolute bitch to remove without damaging the paint, especially if the black paint has minor surface scratches. There's no way to know how the acrylic will behave, especially if this is his first time attempting such a project.

I do this for a living. Back off.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:09 PM on October 12, 2006

Back when I was working with acrylic I used a glazed dinner plate as a palette. Water hot enough to be unconfortable to the hand made the dried smears and globs peel off.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:00 PM on October 12, 2006

Why not try Crayola paint? It's washable, and the colors are vibrant.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:08 PM on October 12, 2006

I would love to see pictures of it. In fact, I invite you to post them over at (even if it is a different model of Hyundai).
posted by Doohickie at 7:46 PM on October 12, 2006

I'm liking the acrylic idea. I'll test it on an inconspicuous spot first.

I should have mentioned that the car has hail damage, fading and various scratches and dents, and is not, by any means, obsessed over. It's more that my wife hates attracting attention, and this has been a long running joke between us. It wouldn't work if it wasn't real paint.

She'll definitely want it off. But if the car doesn't come out exactly perfect afterwards, she won't care about it.

I'm secretly hoping she actually decides she likes it, and we can do it permanently! Oh, and doohickie, if it comes out well, I'll post a picture on Elantra club. It is, indeed, an Elantra.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:10 PM on October 12, 2006

Did anybody actually visit the page gummo linked to? Fandango_matt, isn't that product specifically designed for the kind of thing M.C. Lo-Carb! wants to do?
posted by flabdablet at 11:40 PM on October 12, 2006

I tried the link earlier, but it didn't load, so no, I hadn't seen that--but if that stuff does and behaves the way its promoters say it will, then yes, I'd be inclined to try that.

When I worked as a sign painter, the tempura (poster) paint thinned with detergent is what I used to paint storefront windows with "Sale" and the like. It's bright, easy to clean up, and it'll hose right off when you're finished.

As far as the artist's acrylic is concerned, M.C. Lo-Carb specifically asked, "[for paint that will] wash off with soap and water once the expected merriment is acheived." Artist's acrylic will not easily do that--yes, monkeysaltednuts, you can get artist's acrylic off ceramic plates and glass with hothot water in the sink, but getting enough of that hothot water to the car is going to be a different story since you can't put the car in the sink and run hothot water over it until the acrylic softens. Remember also, it's not just small dabs--he's talking about covering a large area.

Also, we don't know how the painted metal and the plastic from which modern bumpers are made will behave, especially if the car has a clearcoat finish or somesuch. I've used acrylic for many projects and I've had acrylic pull paint off metal, so I don't think I'm too far afield in pointing out the artist's acrylic might not be the wisest choice for a first-timer's temporary gag. Yes, it may work. It might also really fuck up the paint and be a enormous pain to clean up. Seeing as how this is a temporary gag and it's his first attempt at something like this, it's probably best he err on the side of caution, especially since that's what he asked for--easy clean-up with soap and water.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:15 AM on October 13, 2006

I know this from experience (painting a teacher's car with the teacher being right there):

Get cheap acrylic. Paint it on. Rub it off when you're done. It takes minimal scrubbing.

I don't know if the paint gets more "clingy" with time, though. In the case of the teacher, it was gone a couple of hours later.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 4:49 AM on October 13, 2006

As a long-time acrylics user, I side with fandango_matt here. The success of this depends on so many variables, and different brands of paint will do different things. And if the car's surface has scratches, hail damage, and imperfections in the paint, these are all the areas from which you will NOT be able to remove the paint. Any porous or pitted area will be painted for keeps. If this was a supersmooth finish on a new car, it would be more likely to peel right off (though if it was a new car, I doubt you'd risk it at all).

And if it doesn't peel right off, what then? Are you willing to take a scouring pad tto the area? A scraper? Some of it will peel off, some will come off with water and a sponge, but some of it is going to take more work because of variations in evenness of application.

Also, when it's done, it really is just going to look like acrylic paint slopped on, not like real detail work. If the reaction you're looking for is "Oh god, you got the car detailed with crazy flames!" and not "Oh god, my husband painted the car!" then I say run, don't walk, to the decals.
posted by hermitosis at 6:53 AM on October 13, 2006

Magnetic flames from JC Whitney. $60 or so, and worth every penny!
posted by SteveInMaine at 7:35 AM on October 13, 2006

Plus magnetic are reusable, so you can pull the same trick on your mom, your boss, and someday, your children.
posted by hermitosis at 8:41 AM on October 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

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