Prepping and Painting Rock Sliders: A DIY Step-By-Step Overview For the 5th Gen 4Runner or Any other Truck
Getting the best bang for your buck.
There are tons of options out there to protect your rock sliders, that let’s be honest, aren’t cheap.
Powder Coating, Rhino Liner, and Line-X are some of the big names that claim a protective scratch-resistant layer. To get top results from these products, they will need to be applied with expensive equipment or by a professional. These coatings run about $100 – $350 per application and I’d bet they would still be scraped off if you hit something.
This makes a lot of people look to the DIY option that, if done correctly, can provide the same level of protection and be easily repaired. Today, we are going to walk you through the process of painting your rock sliders.
This will apply to more than just 4Runners, obviously. Whatever make and model truck or SUV you have, follow along with this super quick and easy guide to coating, painting, and protecting your rock sliders.
Here is a list of the materials that I used to paint the sliders. I went with the CaliRaised LED sliders, 0-degree option, with the top plates, although there are many other options out there. In this quick overview, I’ll show you how to paint rock sliders and slider plates in a few steps along with a list of tools.
Tools & Materials:
Refer to later sections for quantity recommendations…
- Rustoleum Self Etching Primer: Check Price
- Rustoleum Truck Bed Liner Spray: Check Price
- Acetone, Alcohol, Quick Evaporating Cleaner: Check Price
- Microfiber Cloths: Check Price
- Scotch Pad: Check Price
- Wire Brush (Optional): Check Price
- Personal Protective Equipment/Gear:
- Eyeglasses/Safety Glasses
- Latex Gloves: Check Price
- Chemical Odor Valved Respirator/Breathing Mask: Check Price
- Cover for Clothes
Remove Oils and Surface Rust
Bare metal will rust in a matter of hours from the oil from your hands if you touch them.
So, resist the temptation to pick them up after you get them delivered if you can. Some companies will wipe them with light oil to help protect the metal during shipping and this will have to be removed as well.
If you can see any kind of surface rust or residue from the welding process, go ahead and scrub it off with the scotch pad or the wire brush.
Note: Make sure to have on latex gloves (and other protective gear) at this point so you are not causing more rust!
Make Sure To Cover Mounting Brackets For Top Plates
I opted for my sliders to have top plates, so I made sure to get around the mounting brackets. Periodically wipe down the sliders with acetone to clean off the rust/dirt and inspect the surface.
You should have a nice shine (as shown above) when you are finished with this step.
Once the surface has been fully cleaned with visible dirt or rust, begin to apply the primer ASAP.
This is not a step that you want to wait on doing. If you wait too long you will have to repeat the cleaning process again. The Rustoleum Self Etching Primer is intense so make sure you have your mask on, so you don’t breathe the vapors.
Apply several light coats and make sure you get complete coverage. I used about 1.5 cans per slider and 1 for both top plates. Allow plenty of time for the primer to completely dry, I had some bad weather so it allowed mine to dry 2 full days in the garage.
Now the part where all the hard work in prep and priming pays off.
First off, buy more cans than you think you will need. The Rustoleum Truck Bed Liner is much thicker, so the cans don’t cover as much. You can always return it if you don’t use it, but I saved a can to use on touch-ups later! A decent estimate is 2.5 cans per slider and 1.5 cans for both top plates. To be safe you may want to grab 7-8 Cans.
Note: Be sure to shake the can thoroughly and stop and shake it periodically as you use it.
I found the Truck Bed Liner cans work best while spraying down in order to not run out of the aerosol first.
The first coats were applied to each side of the sliders while lying flat on a box and final coats with the sliders sitting on a set of sawhorses. I applied an extra coat in the “high wear” spots like the exposed area that people will step on to get in.
Add An Extra Coat For Glossy Textured Finish
The Rustoleum leaves you with a slight gloss textured finish that is close to a sandpaper feel. Find a place to store them for approximately 24 hours to allow the liner to fully cure.
Note: Make sure you have good ventilation because the paint smell is strong while they dry.
I have had the sliders on my 4Runner for about a month now and have gotten nothing but compliments on the finish.
People have even asked what company did it for me and are surprised it is a simple rattle can job. The texture has proven to be very good wet or dry and I have no worries about anyone slipping on them getting in or out.
So, for under $100 and a few afternoons, this is an awesome option to consider when purchasing your next set of sliders or even bumpers. If you have any other ways of painting rock sliders, let us know.
There are quite a few ways to do it so let us know in the comments what you used to paint your sliders.
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THANK YOU for this article. Recently bought some sliders from RCI and followed your instructions. 👊 They turned out way better than expected and look factory👍
And… holding up in the Texas heat as well!
I just finished stripping old powder coat off my sliders, and I’m about to start the priming/bed liner process. Did you spray the primer and bed liner one side at a time when first getting started? If so, how long did you wait for it to dry? I don’t want to flip it over too soon and ruin all the prep work I did.
Hey Ross, so I did complete coats of primer and bedliner separately. You will want to spray one side with primer and let it dry about 10-15 minutes (depending on temperature). It should be dry to the touch. Flip it over and repeat. I did each side twice making sure to get the edges. Let it dry at least a full 24hrs (I waited 2 days) before you apply the bedliner in the same way.
Small follow up question- did you sand the primer at all before applying the bed liner? Or did you directly apply? Thanks!
The surface after priming was pretty rough so I just directly applied without sanding. You can sand first if you want, it won’t hurt the process. I just figured I’d possibly scratch it up anyway. I coated mine 6 months ago and no issues so far even with the pressure washer or the Texas heat.
Did you paint the side of the mounts that touch the frame?
Christian, yes you would want to paint/coat everything. Any exposed metal will lead to rusting. This could grow into a hole, let water in the sliders themselves, and cause everything else to rust from the inside out. This means it’s also important if you scrape on a rock to patch up your coating.
Thanks for your great article. I have a set of fresh, black powdercoated sliders that came with a small chip/ding in the powerdcoating for the passenger side. I want to simply touch up and repair/paint over this blemish. Do you recommend using the rust-oleum truck bed coating to make this repair or is there another type of paint/process you recommend? Thx
Mike, sorry I don’t have much experience touching up powdercoating. I touched up a powdercoated bumper once with the same bedliner I used here and didn’t have issues. The main thing is to make sure you clean out the blemishes to make sure rust doesn’t get to it.
nice work – this is very helpful. I like the ability to touch up later. Extra cans are good! I’ve also seen Bedliner cans that you attach to an air compressor. That would be worth a try.