I wasn’t sure what category to put this blog post in.  Ultimately, I decided to put it in Money Matters, because it’s about not only saving money but also making do with what you already have.  As a professional who makes just under 6 figures a year, I’m fairly regularly asked why I drive a 15 year old Honda CRV.  First of all, it’s because it’s paid off, and still running incredibly well, so I don’t NEED a new car.  But second, and perhaps more important, with a young child and multiple dogs at home, my car gets used hard.  It’s frequently taking trips to the beach, or scuba diving, or carrying home a newly-rescued foster dog.  With all of this going on, I would worry about a new car getting beat-up.  With my current CRV, I don’t have to worry – if it’s scratched, or stained, or whatever, it’s not a huge deal.  And every time I think about buying a new car, and having a $400 car payment, I realize I’d rather pay off debt or take a weekend trip with that money.

However, I still want a car that looks reasonably nice.  So, when the roof of my car started fading, and the clear coat started looking patchy, it bothered me.  We went to go get a quote to have it repainted, but I couldn’t justify spending $500 on a 15-year-old car for something that was purely cosmetic.

Supplies We Used

After a bit of exploration online, looking at forums and reviewing people’s thoughts on the various DIY bedliner options (Rustoleum, Duplicolor, Herculiner), I ordered a gallon of the Rustoleum Roll-on Bedliner from Walmart.  I also ordered the Rustoleum Application Kit, but ultimately, we ended up using a simple 6-Inch Foam Roller for Ultra-Smooth Surfaces.  Total cost: around $65 (and we have enough paint left over for quite a few other projects).

First Step: Prepping the Surface

As a first step (after removing the trim pieces!), we wiped down the surface really well with acetone, using some old white t-shirts as rags.  Then, we used a 1/4-Sheet Orbital Sander to take off the clear coat.  We weren’t trying to get all the way through the old paint, down to the metal, but we did a solid sanding to remove the gloss and clearcoat.

After sanding, we used a pressure washer to remove the sanding dust, and allowed that to dry.  Then, we did a final wipe-down with acetone before taping off the edges.

Next Step: 3 Coats of Paint

The first thing we did was cut in the edges using a standard foam brush, for each coat.  Then, we rolled on the bedliner.  Each coat goes on fairly thin, with a little bit of texture.  We didn’t want to risk overspray in the garage, so we painted outdoors in 75 degree weather.  Each coat dried fairly quickly – the instructions say to wait at least an hour between coats, but we waited several hours between each one.

The only challenge we had with painting outside was the bugs.  Here in Florida, there are only rare seasons with no bugs around, and this Spring was no exception.  So, we occasionally had to pause when bugs landed on one of the coats of paint.  In between coats 2 and 3, we actually had to spot-sand a bit to remove a couple of bugs that had gotten stuck in the paint.  Clearly, we’re not experts – but the good news is, it didn’t appear to affect the final product!

We basically kept adding coats until the coverage was full and the finish was even.  This took 3 coats for us, but may take more or less depending on your situation.

The Finished Product

We love the way it turned out, see for yourself:

(Incidentally, any spots you see are dirt; it’s surprisingly hard to keep a car clean in the Springtime in Florida!) It also gave the car a little bit more interesting look – more manly, says Don, as it was sort of a mommy-mobile to begin with. I wish we’d done it a year ago when the roof first started looking so bad.

I don’t think we’ve done anything remotely innovative or unique, but hopefully, if you’re considering doing something similar, this will help you make up your mind!  For us, it extends the life of a car we’d rather keep, as it’s the perfect size and quite reliable.  And I LOVE not having a car payment, so minor upgrades like this will work for now.

So, what simple project have you been putting off that would make a huge difference?  Or that could save you a fortune over paying someone else to do it for you?