Rocket Painting

I use catalyzed urethane paints on my rockets. I use Limco Supreme Plus paint by BASF Refinishes. I source the paint itself from my local Industrial Finishes shop.

Below I will outline the process I use when shooting this paint. I've painted several rockets this way now, but will be using photos from Code Blue's painting.


Before we even begin painting, thorough preparation of the airframe is important. First we sand the entire rocket with 80-grit sandpaper, and then sand again using a green Scotch Brite pad. This ensures that the paint will have a rough surface to adhere to. After that, we take a wet shop rag and wipe the entire rocket clean of dust, dirt, and other residue.


Here is the "lineup" of paints I used on this rocket. Going from left to right we have: silver and blue paint, adhesion promoter, epoxy primer, and some leftovers of each color.

Notice that everything is in spray cans. This paint system does not require a spray gun as this is another option. These spray cans are single-use and specifically designed for 2-part (2K) paints. The paint is stored inside the can, and the catalyst is stored inside a small canister inside the spray can itself. When ready to paint, you pop open a small valve at the bottom of the spray can which allows the 2 components to mix together. Once a can has been "popped," it has a pot life of about 8-12 hours.

Paint Booth

I use my easy-up as a paint booth. This is primarily to ensure that overspray is properly contained. It includes canvas sides, tarps, spray rack, and a workbench.


As shown here, the individual rocket components are hung using string, wires, and an overhead rack. First we shoot 2 coats of "Adhesion Promoter," a (clear) product that actually etches into the material you're painting for a very solid bond.

After waiting 24 hours, we move on to 2 coats of primer. (15-30 minutes in between coats.) This primer is white/beige in color and has a very flat tone. It also readily accepts paint without sanding.

Following another 24-hour full cure, we shoot our first coat of color - silver in the case of Code Blue. This paint has the gloss clear coat mixed in already, so it has a very finished look to it. Likewise with the primer, we shoot 2-3 coats and wait 15-30 minutes in between each coat.

After the next 24-hour cure, we mask off any silver where we don't want blue paint using newspaper and painter's tape. For Code Blue, the fins were all that required this.

It's very important to protect yourself from this paint as it is highly toxic to your health. As you can see, I always wear a "bunny" suit, respirator, safety goggles, and nitrile gloves. This ensures that you won't get exposed to any toxins. (Photo credit to Craig Alness.)

Now, on to blue paint! (Photo credit to Craig Alness.)

Once again, we shoot 2-3 coats and wait 15-30 minutes in between each coat. (Photo credit to Craig Alness.)

Tada! (Photo credit to Craig Alness.)

All finished painting.

The fully-completed rocket looks like this.