Make your machine shine again! Repaint your machine and renew its decals

02 July 2019

When performing any kind of maintenance on your machine, make sure you keep the complete picture in mind.

What is easily overlooked? Repainting your machine and attaching the corresponding decals.

Why is this so important? First of all, your machine will look much better. It will also be more resistant to weather conditions and the decals are often necessary to pass inspection.

How to paint a machine? It's a 6-step plan

Painting a machine sounds easier than it is. No need to worry though, just follow our 6-step plan and you will get the job done.

  1. Prepare the machine
  2. Protect yourself and your workplace
  3. Choose the right paint
  4. Paint
  5. Observe dry times
  6. Make sure you are compliant with the decals typical for your machine

Step 1 – Prepare the machine

First, remove old decals. Do this with a special label spray and a putty knife or a scraper.

Then, strip the old paintwork and remove any corrosion. This can be done by manual or mechanical sanding or by sandblasting. Mechanical or manual rust removal produces a much lower quality than blasting and will usually result in a shorter protection period of the applied paint.

Individual parts can easily be blasted, but a complete machine has to be sanded. After all, you don't want the particles inside your machine. They would cause mechanical parts to become stuck. Don't forget to use a dust mask with valve and coverall while sanding or blasting. In case of paint application on new steel, blasting or sanding is not necessary.

Finally, don't forget to remove dents and use a filler to repair any holes. Finish with a finer filler.

These actions will result in a smooth surface and will lead to an impeccable paint finish.


Remove any dirt, residues and other water-soluble contaminations by means of high-pressure-washing with clean tap water and degreasing soap. There are 2 reasons to do this: 

  1. No more dust on the machine that can become trapped up in the paint 
  2. The masking tape you will use later will stick better

Degrease the surface to be painted. This allows your paint to adhere well. Put a suitable cleaning agent on a light-coloured rag in order to see when the surface is clean.

Remove all loose parts that don't need to be painted (such as mirrors). Put masking tape on the parts you can’t remove (such as door handles and mechanical parts) and cover tyres and windows with paper or plastic.


Step 2 – Protect yourself and your workplace

Protect yourself against the paint. You need a spray coverall and gloves for spatters and a gas mask with carbon filters to avoid inhaling solvents. These filters may be exposed to light for up to 40 hours. So if you store them well, you can use them for a long time. We also advise using earplugs, to prevent solvents from entering the ear canals and affecting the brain, which could ultimately cause dementia. 

Paint will most likely also hit your floor and walls, that is why you need to protect them as well. Place cardboard on the floor and cover the walls with a peel-off or tacky surface coating. Make sure your workplace is equipped with a good ventilation system that extracts any paint mists and vapours.


Step 3 – Choose the right paint

Choosing the right paint is crucial for a good paint job. Take into account the composition of paint, the quantity of paint you need, the application method you will use, the need for a primer and the need for a hardener or thinner.

Composition of the paint

A different composition of paint determines how to carry out the paint job. We advise opting for an alkyd paintrather than acrylic paint. Alkyd paint has the best price/quality ratio and is also perfectly suited for steel. 

You will also have to choose between 1-component or 2-component paint

  • 1-component paint is ready to use and, as such, very user-friendly. Its price is a lot lower. Using a primer is always necessary though.
  • 2-component paint consists of two substances, i.e. paint and hardener. These still need to be mixed. This paint lasts longer, dries faster and gives a nice gloss. A primer is not always necessary with 2-component paint. But once the two substances are mixed, the paint will harden very fast. That's why calculating the exact amount of paint you need and a good timing are important. 

Choose a paint that has a high covering capacity, so that fewer layers of paint still produce a perfect result.



If you only need to do a small touch-up, a spray can should be sufficient. For complete parts or machines, a paint tin is advised. Make sure the matching spray cans and tins always have the exact same colour.

Application method

Are you going to brush, roll or spray the paint?

Spraying will provide the most professional finish. 

Brushing or rolling is recommended for a quick touch-up or if there is no spray cabin with ventilation system available. Rolling is possible if the surface is flat. Do you have a surface with a lot of bumps? Consider brushing. Rolled paint will be slightly more even than brushed paint. 

Need for a primer

Always apply a priming coat before painting, definitely if you have to paint new or bare steel or if you have used a filler. Only if the old paint is not completely removed after sanding, a primer is not always necessary. Apply a primer for colours with a bright pigment (such as red and orange) or when there is a high contrast between the old and new paint colours. For light or bright colours, use a yellow ochre primer. For dark colours, a grey or reddish brown primer is recommended.

Need for a hardener or thinner 

Use a synthetic paint thinner depending on the application method: brushing, rolling, spraying …

A thinner isn't always necessary when rolling or brushing. However, when spray-painting, it is necessary to lower the viscosity of the paint. Why? Because the nozzle of a spray gun is very small. 

We recommend diluting between 0 and 15%, but always read the technical data sheet to be sure.

Take into account that more thinner equals a reduced covering capacity. However, if the layer is too thick, there is a good chance there will be a 'solvent-lock'. The solvent can no longer evaporate in time before the outside of the paint layer dries, resulting in the formation of  blisters. This is especially the case when you roll the paint, causing air to become trapped underneath the paint layer. We advise using a roller made of hard foam as this doesn't absorb air. Make sure the roller is always saturated with paint before starting to paint. Spray-painting layers that are too thick will result in uneven paint that resembles an orange peel.

Adding a hardener to your paint will make it dry faster and give it a nicer gloss.

Our TotalSource paint is a one-component modified alkyd paint with a short drying time and excellent covering capacity. Have a look in our ‘Paint & accessories’ catalogue and find all paints sorted by make for all types of machines. You can order your paint via MyTotalSource or contact your sales advisor.

For any technical details on our TotalSource paint (such as layer thickness, recommended primers and how much thinner to use), go to the technical data sheet.



Step 4 – Paint

You can roll or brush in the direction you prefer.

When spraying, remember to hold your spray gun at a distance of approximately 25 cm from the surface and use regular and smooth movements from top to bottom and from side to side. The spray gun will spray in a vertical line, so it is important to work horizontally. If you prefer working vertically, turn the nozzle. 

Stop painting when the coat of paint is completely even. While painting, the temperature should be around 20 °C to ensure a good viscosity and adhesion.


Step 5 – Observe dry times

A second layer will always be necessary and a third can be desired. Wait 5 to 10 minutes before applying a second or third layer. The paint will be dust-dry in approximately 45 min, but will only be fully dry after 1 day. 

Drying times vary due to:

  • Layer thickness
  • Ventilation
  • Temperature
  • Relative humidity

Ventilate the space to remove any spray mist and solvent vapours. This way, the end result is better, the paint dries faster and it is better for your health and safety. However, keep in mind that a temperature of 20 °C is required for a good hardening. This is very important for the quality of your paint job. The paint spray cans or tins should also be stored at a temperature of 17 to 18 °C.





Step 6 – Make sure you are compliant with the decals typical for your machine

Once the paint has dried and hardened, add the specific decals for your machine. These decals are required for the inspection and to be in conformity with the legislation. For example, you must place load diagrams, load capacity decals and warning labels.

Also, additional user instructions and safety information decals on the inside and outside of your machine are recommended.

Use decals with good adhesion and a good resistance against UV and water. This way, the decals remain intact and legible for a longer period of time.

TVH offers all labels and decals recommended for specific machine makes and types. For some machines, there are kits available so you have all the corresponding decals for a specific machine at hand. We also offer a lot of safety and instruction decals. Have a look in our ‘Labels & decals’ catalogue, order your decals via MyTotalSource or contact your sales advisor.


Now you know everything there is to know to perform a good paint job.

Do you need paint, tools and accessories for your paint job? Or do you have a specific paint question?

TVH offers all industrial paints in spray cans and tins, as well as various accessories.  

Contact your sales advisor for technical support or go to MyTotalSource to place an order.

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