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What paint for track

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  • What paint for track

    I'm sure its been covered before but what paint is recommended fot the racing sueface of a routed HO track? I plan on rolling it on with a smooth foam roller.

    Any tips are greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    I use a gloss epoxy on all of my tracks. Silicone tires work best on a glossy surface.

    Many people go for a rough-surfaced paint, commonly called blackboard paint. I heard about a recent race on such a track where a friend of mine lost the race because his sponge-silicone tires wore out on the abrasive surface. A gloss surface gives you very good grip without being abrasive.

    You don't have to use epoxy. Epoxy can be hard to roll on without getting a ripple in the surface. Said ripple does not seem to affect the cars any. Still, I prefer a glass-smooth surface.

    You do not want to use a water-based paint on MDF. Not directly. The water in the paint can cause MDF to swell, which is very bad news. You can use a water-based paint on top of an oil-based primer, or other such sealant.

    I do not paint my tracks black. I paint them a medium gray, to simulate weathered asphalt, or a brown to simulate dirt. Black tracks soak up light, and aren't realistic. Asphalt is only black right after it is paved. Exposure to sunlight soon softens the color to a light gray. A light gray track makes it easier to see the cars.

    I strongly recommend that you paint your MDF BEFORE you rout. If you rout first you'll risk getting paint in the slots. A router with a plastic base should not damage your paint job. If you are seriously worried about damage to the paint, buy some stick-on felt at your hardware store and put in on your router base.

    Ed Bianchi


    • #3
      Thanks Ed
      It is mdf I guess I should had stated that. I been looking at epoxy primers and paints at Lowes but they are water based. So what product do you use?

      Unfortunately I have already drew my track on the board and started routing. So I will just need to be careful fith the paint. Also I had thought about oil based paint but was told that it could take a few weeks to dry.

      By the way I am the one that ordered 2 rolls tape and tape tool from you last week.


      • #4
        I have bought my epoxy paint from Sherwin Williams. Talk to them about their industrial epoxies.

        You do not need to start with a primer coat when you paint with epoxies.

        Another source is epoxy finishes intended for refurbishing bathtubs and sinks. You can find them in hardware/home stores. Make sure you buy a two-part epoxy. There is a limited choice of colors, but you can buy them in pints and quarts instead of gallons. And I have had better luck with these in getting a glass-smooth finish.

        You might be able to get colors added to a white epoxy paint. Ask. But there is no shame in painting your racing surface white. It has worked well for me.

        If you go the Sherwin Williams industrial epoxy route, they'll mix colors for you -- even custom colors. Some of my tracks have been painted a custom color developed for one of my customers that he called 'Georgia Clay'.

        I have only ever used 2-part epoxies. I'd steer clear of one-part epoxies and water-based epoxies. I did experiment with a water-based epoxy once -- I was not happy with it.

        By the way, you want to make sure your foam paint rollers are suitable for epoxies. Some foam paint rollers will be destroyed by the chemicals in uncured epoxy. If you have any doubts, go to Sherwin Williams and buy your rollers there. Ask to make sure you are getting the right rollers.

        One way to reduce the chance of getting paint down in your slots is to apply it in thin coats. At least two coats, maybe three. Here is a trick! You can stop mixed epoxy from curing by storing it in your refrigerator, or even your freezer. Keeping it cold will prevent it from setting -- at least for a day or two. You can mix all of your paint at once, use what you need for the first coat, and save the rest for your later coats.

        Make sure the paint can is sealed tight -- maybe enclose it in a sealed bag. Or two. Epoxies have a strong smell and you don't want it to perfume your food!

        Figure on using disposable paint tools. Get plastic liners for your roller tray. Rollers will also be disposed of. Cover a roller with a plastic bag before trying to pull it off the roller frame. Have a trash bag at the ready!

        'Nother tip. Get yourself disposable nitrile gloves (they're blue). And wear old clothes. You may even want to spread a disposable plastic drop cloth. Epoxies are not easy to clean up!

        I should mention one home-track-builder I met painted his track with a rattle-can spray paint. It seemed to work. But I think you'll be better off with a roller-applied paint.

        Ed Bianchi
        Last edited by HO RacePro; 05-21-2018, 09:21 AM.


        • #5
          Thanks. Lots of helpful tips.