Painting photo etch

I think I’ve finally started to get the hang of working with photo etch, but one thing that still alludes me is a painting it. I prime with Mr surfacer 1500 black thinned with Tamiya lacquer thinner. And then paint with usually AK real colors or Tamiya. For the most part everything is fine, but every now and then I’ll handle a piece of the PE either from masking or detail painting and a bit of paint flakes off letting brass show through. It’s pretty frustrating having a piece of bright brass winking at you when you thought the build was almost done!

Curious if anyone has better luck painting metal parts and what the secret is for a durable finish

Me too. I’ve tried Mr Metal Primer and that didn’t make an appreciable difference.

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Clean the metal with solvents to remove any and all grease/oil/fat/dirt
There are primers designed for metal but the chemicals in those are rather harmful.

I painted brass with Humbrol enamels, after a thorough cleaning, I had to use my fingernails
to be able to scratch it.

Edit: HeavyArtys suggestion below is excellent.


One thing that helps is to lightly sand (600-800 grit) the PE before bending it to shape. This gives the paint something to grab onto as opposed to the super smooth finish on the metal.

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Do you just sand the entire fret before cutting out parts and bending? Or each individual part?

I’ll also give the suggestion by @Robin_Nilsson a try. I imagine this might be part of the issue as on some parts the finish is quite durable but sometimes it’s weak where I am guessing some grease was.

Whenever I prime anything I let it sit for at least 24 hrs.


I lightly sand the whole fret if possible. If it has lots of little parts that can fly away, sand them as you build the bigger ones. You can also gently apply low-tack tape (like blue painter’s tape) to one side to hold it all together and then sand the other side.


Like Heavy said, sand the entire fret at once if possible. It doesn’t have to be a heavy grit; you just want to roughen it up a bit for the paint to bite into it.

Also heed barnslayer on allowing cure time.

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I use acetone to clean my PE and tracks.

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robin what solvents do you use, would alcohol be good?


Ethyl acetate either pure or as the manin component in acetone free nail polish remover.
Acetone works too …
If you decide to use nail polish remover you need to make sure it is the oil free variant …

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I use “Blacken it”, as per the instructions place the pe into some decanted solution for approx 30min and the pe goes black. Prime and paint as normal from then on. On the rare occasion a small flake has come off it leaves a black surface behind not a bright brass one.

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Don’t use nail polish remover. It contains moisturizers and other stuff you don’t want. Acetone is good. Lacking that go with lacquer thinner or denatured alcohol.

I got a giant bottle of electric part cleaner used to clean PCB from RadioShack years ago. Works great no residue.

I have recently used Metal Prep 4K primer from Vantage Model Solutions. I brush it on, let it dry. have never had a problem. It is essentially a resin type paint that adheres to metal. then then paint adheres to it. YMMV

Good Luck

you mean something like this?
or a contact cleaner like this, if it isn’t the same thing.

Lately, I have been cleaning photo etch and metal barrels with vinegar and a good
soapy wash followed by an application of this product and never had peeling or
flaking of paint since.

There is also a spray can version:



Contact Cleaner is what is on the bottle. I hit with on the sprue if i can. Larger pieces I do rough up as suggested. i wear rubber gloves most of the time.

When you pre-paint PE it’s almost inevitable that you will get chips through handling or bending the parts. When that happens, just touch up the chips by brush after installing the piece.
:grinning: :canada:

This! Same here.

Blacken It or other track darling solution.

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Very interesting thread in a great topic. I read all posts and and might be useful in a future build but to be honest, since I use the Gunze 1500 balack primer spray with at least 24 hrs curing time and several light coats of base paint, I never had issues with P/E parts, although all my build contain them. For maskung I use a pink coor painter tape which is far less tacky and very easy to remove from curved surfaces, too. Probably this combination helped me so far.