Introduction: Painting Tacoma Grill Surround

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So I've been wanting to do this for a while now, I watched some you tube, read some forum threads and figured I'd give it a shot! I did have some trouble finding a clear write up for what I wanted, so hopefully this is helpful to others who want to do the same thing! Feel free to give me some pointers/comments/feedback...I've never painted anything on a car before so I'm by no means a professional!

All in all I spent about $38 on stuff you can find at any auto parts store. From start to finish this project took about a day and a half (keep in mind, a lot of that time was spent literally waiting for paint to actual work time was only about 3.5-4 hours.)

I know some guys go the plasti dip route, but I wasn't too sure of the color match or longevity, never having used it myself. So, this time around I went with the traditional primer/paint/clear combo.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Luckily, you won't need a lot for this project. You probably have most of it lying around already!


  • 200-400 grit sand paper
  • 800 grit scuff pad
  • 2000 grit wet/dry sand paper
  • Dupli Color scratch filler primer
  • Dupli Color Black (specific toyota match)
  • Dupli Color protective clear coat finish


  • Knife or flathead screwdriver (just something to pry with)
  • Phillips head screwdriver (optional)
  • 10 mm socket w/wrench
  • T20 torx bit driver
  • paper towel or lint free rag
  • soapy water
  • sponge
  • rubbing alcohol
  • gloves (latex or nitrile)
  • crap load of elbow grease
  • beer (optional...but I mean c'mon)

Step 2: Remove the Grill

This is pretty straight forward, but I should mention that I've got a 2012 taco, so I can only say for sure that these steps will work for 2nd gen's only. They might work on others, they might not.

First, remove (2) 10mm bolts from the top of the grill with either the phillips head or the socket. After that there should be (2) pop up clips next to the headlights, (1) on each side. All you have to do is pry that center circle up with anything flat and the whole clip should come up.

Lastly, there should about (8) plastic tabs along the bottom holding the grill in place. There are (2) large ones by the headlights and (6) smaller ones along the center. You should be able to feel them with your fingers and, while gently pulling back on the grill, pop them up and out one at a time until the whole unit is out.

Step 3: Take the Surround and Grill Apart

This was a bit more time consuming, but still pretty straight forward. There are (12) torx head screws size T20 to remove. And then comes the fun part...about 10 metal tabs coming from the surround through the plastic grill that have to be painstakingly pried and pushed back through at the same time. I found that starting on one of the corner tabs helps. You can pry the plastic away from the metal tab while pulling the grill away from the surround until the tab head sinks below. You may want to wedge something in between the grill and the surround to help keep tension on it while you pry the remaining tabs.

After that, you only have about (6) basic tabs that just have to be depressed lightly and the whole thing should come apart!

Step 4: Clean It Up!

Before you start scuffing or painting you want to clean the surround to get rid of any bugs, sap, grease, dirt or anything that would keep the primer from sticking or would leave a lump in the finish. Just take some soapy water and a sponge and wipe everything down a few times until you've gotten rid of all the imperfections.

Step 5: Scuff It Up

Now that you've gotten the chrome clean enough to eat off of...scratch the crap out of it! I'd go with about 300-400 grit paper and lightly start to scuff up the surface until you can see even scratches covering the whole surface. At this point you should be wearing gloves to keep the dirt and oils from your hands from getting on the metal. Then wipe it down with rubbing alcohol, let it dry, and get it ready for priming!

Step 6: Prime Time!

Now, I just followed the instructions on the can. It's that simple. I did 4 coats (there were still a few spots after 3 coats, so i waited an hour, scuffed lightly with the 800 grit pad and added another coat), about 8" away in smooth even strokes making sure not to start or stop on the surround itself. It's important not to go for full coverage on the first coat. The key is building an even layer with multiple LIGHT can always add more!

After the first coat you can see it's pretty spotty...but a few coats later it's nice and even.

Step 7: Painting

This is pretty much a repeat of step 5, except with the paint. Just make sure you wait about 5-10 mins between each coat and at least 30 mins before you apply the clear coat.

Step 8: Clear Coat

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Same as the priming and the painting, keep the can moving, light coats! It also helps if you clear the spray nozzle after each coat by flipping the can over and spraying until only air comes out.

Step 9: Wet Sanding

Unless you have a spray booth and an hvlp system, you're probably gonna end up with a little orange peeliness in your final finish...and i wanted something closer to factory than that. So it's up to you if you want to go through with this step...some of you maybe lucky enough to have a flawless finish right of the bat! Me not so much.

So, I let it dry for a few hours and then took some 2000 grit sand paper, sprayed some water on it and gently scrubbed the whole thing. You should see a white slurry start to appear, which is good. That means your smoothing out the finish. Do this a few times, wipe it clean with alcohol, let it dry and reapply another coat or two of clear coat. You should notice the finish is much clearer and shinier this time around.

Step 10: Reassemble, Reattach, Step Back and Enjoy!

Basically work backwards through the first few steps (carefully!!) and then go brag to all your buddies about how awesome you are!

Step 11: Afterthoughts

Like most first-time-projects, hindsight is always 20/20. So a few things I would've done differently and(or) better:

  1. Scuff the chrome up more thoroughly. I don't think I scuffed it up enough...while priming and painting I noticed a few little spots not sticking to the chrome.
  2. Check EVERY angle for even color distribution. I sprayed this in the sun thinking all that light would give me the best view in case I didn't get enough paint somewhere...turns out everything looks pretty even outside. It wasn't until I brought the piece inside that I noticed some edges and angled parts weren't coated as evenly as I would've liked. Next time, I guess.
  3. If you can, spray the clear coat inside. Just make sure you're in a well ventilated area. I had to carefully pick out bits of dust and bugs and crap before every coat, and that's probably why I had such a rough finish.
  4. It helps to orient the piece you're spraying vertically so that you can keep the can upright. I noticed if I held the spray can horizontally for too long I wouldn't get an even spray and it would start to sputter.

Well, that's it for the write up! I tried to make this as detailed as possible (sorry if I went a little overboard) so I hope this helps anyone looking to do something similar. If you have any improvements/comments/questions on this process feel free to let me know!

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