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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E36 (1991 - 1999)

E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 02-24-2011, 04:27 PM
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ethereal45 ethereal45 is offline
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[DIY] Paint E36 Kidney Grilles Black

DIY Painting your E36 Kidney Grills/Grilles Black
I really like the look of black grilles, and while it looks better with the M3 bumper, I figured I'd give it a try on my '98 328i. Sure, you can buy black plastic grill surrounds from DDM Tuning for $40 or so, but they look like cheap black plastic. The good ones are like $85, which is ridiculous and more than I wanted to pay, so I decided to paint my own. Imo, these look very good, and much better than the cheap ones you'd buy from DDM or eBay.

Materials Required:
- Primer (Any kind will probably work)
- Flat Black Spray Paint (You could use glossy as well, I prefer the matte look)
- 220 Grit Sandpaper (Anything between 180-220 would probably be fine)
- 400 Grit Sandpaper
- Paint Thinner or Mineral spirits for cleaning (optional)



These are the specific materials I used, and I am happy with the results. The whole setup shouldn't cost you more than $20.

Step 1: Remove Grill Surrounds
There are a few ways you can do this, I'll leave this up to you. There has to be an easier way than how I did it, which was a pain.

Step 2: Sand the grills with ~200 Grit Sandpaper
Sand the grills to dull the chrome. This will make the primer stick better. Do a good job here, as it really will help the primer, and ultimately the paint stick on better. I would spend 10 minutes or so sanding down each one. The grills should have a dull, brushed aluminum look to them when they are done. This is what mine looked like after this step:




Step 3: Prime the Grills
Use the mineral spirits to clean off the dust left by the sandpaper and let them dry. Make sure they are very clean and very dry before actually spraying on the primer. Apply the primer very lightly at first, as it seemed to stick better with a light coating to begin with. After this has dried (give it an hour), go back and spray on a second, heavier coat of primer and let this dry for a few hours before proceeding. They should look something like this, assuming you used the same primer as me:




Step 4: Painting
Here is where the 400 grit sandpaper comes in -- use this to very very lightly sand the dried primer. When I did this, it dulled the finish of the primer, which is exactly what you're looking for. This shouldn't take more than 30 seconds per grill, and is just to roughen up the texture slightly to help the paint adhere.

Proceed to paint the grills with the black spray paint of your choosing. Again start with a light coat and then apply at least one more heavy coat. The more coats you put on, the more chip-resistant the paint will be. I stopped at 3 coats because I just wanted to get them back on my car. They should look ready to go after this step:





Step 5: Reassembly, and enjoying your money saved
Reattach the grill surrounds to the inner grill part, and stick them back in the car. This should be much easier than removing them -- if not -- you're doing it wrong. The finished product:





Enjoy!
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  #2  
Old 02-24-2011, 04:30 PM
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not trying to piss on your nightstand here but uhhh...

...plasti-dip would have been a lot faster and easier...
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  #3  
Old 02-24-2011, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by KaptinKP View Post
not trying to piss on your nightstand here but uhhh...

...plasti-dip would have been a lot faster and easier...
Eh, I thought about using that but ultimately decided against it. I don't think it looks quite as nice.
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:33 PM
MrJanka MrJanka is offline
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DIY for.... painting kidneys..................
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ethereal45 View Post
Eh, I thought about using that but ultimately decided against it. I don't think it looks quite as nice.
I used it and it looks just as nice...
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:35 PM
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If you wan't your kidneys black start drinking a lot...
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:47 PM
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I think it was a nice write up, hopefully newbs will be able to find it using the amazing thingy called the search bar.
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:51 PM
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What differences in appearance are there between regular spray paint and Plasti-Dip?

You would use the spray-on form of Plasti-Dip for this particular application, right?
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Old 02-24-2011, 06:12 PM
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What differences in appearance are there between regular spray paint and Plasti-Dip?

You would use the spray-on form of Plasti-Dip for this particular application, right?
ya......plasti-dip is a little darker, but other than that theres no difference to me
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Old 02-24-2011, 06:34 PM
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I was planning to use Plasti-Dip on the rubberized trim around my windows as soon as the weather gets nicer around here. I've never used it before, but it seems like it would work well for that job.

Anyway, the OP's kidneys look great! Nice work.
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Old 02-24-2011, 06:54 PM
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I just sanded mine once, used basic primer, and painted with a few coats of painter's touch. Didn't look quite as good as yours do, though.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:01 PM
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It doesn't matter how it'll look when you first do it, it's how it will look in a few months.


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Old 02-24-2011, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeGerman View Post
I was planning to use Plasti-Dip on the rubberized trim around my windows as soon as the weather gets nicer around here. I've never used it before, but it seems like it would work well for that job.

Anyway, the OP's kidneys look great! Nice work.
Thanks. This is about the only cosmetic mod I like on the 328. I know this is silly, but I think this mod looks alot better on about any E36 color other than silver.....but I still wanted to do it anyways. I'm happy with the look.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:08 PM
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I was thinking it actually looked pretty excellent on silver. I've considered doing it on my car, but I fear that black on black will make it look too "murdered out" - a look which I'm not a big fan of. I'm still debating on whether or not to do it. If I do decide to paint them, it won't happen until after I get new wheels and install my suspension. Blacked out kidneys on a black car with stock wheels would look pretty lame.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 02-24-2011 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:15 PM
EuroDriven EuroDriven is offline
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From what I have read it is hard to get the dirt off the plastic dip when it gets dirty.
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  #16  
Old 02-24-2011, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeGerman View Post
I was thinking it actually looked pretty excellent on silver. I've considered doing it on my car, but I fear that black on black will make it look too "murdered out" - a look which I'm not a big fan of. I'm still debating on whether or not to do it. If I do decide to paint them, it won't happen until after I get new wheels and install my suspension. Blacked out kidneys on a black car with stock wheels would look pretty lame.
I love the phrase "murdered out," hahaha. I laugh quietly to myself everytime I come across it. Personally though, I think the black grills look great on black cars, even if the rest of them is set up stock. I think the chrome trim is a bit dated, and since it's the only shiny thing on a black car, they stick out just a little too much in my opinion.

I'd go for the black grills if I were you, as long as you're not going for clear or smoked corners or tails, your car isn't going to look murdered out. I think it would just give the front end a slightly more up to date aesthetic.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:23 PM
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Yeah, I'll probably try it out eventually.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:29 PM
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Yeah, I'll probably try it out eventually.
I think it's a fun project, and if you don't like it you can always buy a set of chrome grills again and revert I suppose. It's one of the few cosmetic mods Im willing to do to my car -- I like keeping it as true to form as possible.

I've been toying with the idea of installing the silver gauge rings, but I just can't bring myself to destroy the stock aesthetic like that.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:31 PM
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Yeah, don't bother with the silver gauge rings. IMO, that's one of those "high school kid" mods that you'll regret soon afterward.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 02-24-2011 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:36 PM
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Yeah, don't bother with the silver gauge rings. IMO, that's one of those "high school kid" mods that you'll regret soon afterward.
One of my speedo bulbs is out, which is the only reason I was considering it in first place. I'd have to see it in person before I did it to my own car I suppose. But I think I'll probably save the $25.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:42 PM
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Yeah, you have to take apart the gauge cluster to install the rings. To change a bulb, all you have to do is pull the cluster itself (no taking anything apart). Takes less than 10 minutes.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:46 PM
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Yeah, you have to take apart the gauge cluster to install the rings. To change a bulb, all you have to do is pull the cluster itself (no taking anything apart). Takes less than 10 minutes.
Yeah, I think I could handle it without any major hitches. It'd be a piece of cake to take apart compared to the dismantling of my radio and climate control unit that I did last month to touch up some solder joints and replace a capacitor on the ECC circuit board.
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Last edited by ethereal45; 02-24-2011 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:32 PM
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^ Haha, I like the disclaimer in your sig. I think I need one of those too.
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:50 PM
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On a side note, my Roundel looks pretty good for almost 14 years old.
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Old 02-24-2011, 09:04 PM
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My rear roundel was good. The front was all jacked up and I eventually just scraped the white off to reveal an ugly "polished" aluminum look.
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