The DIY solution to protecting your 4X4’s canopy
REVIEWED: RAPTOR PROTECTIVE COATING
When you’re looking at protecting your 4X4’s canopy and outer surfaces, there’s the typical choices such as paint, auto paint or using finishes such as aluminium (which doesn’t require painting). But rather than doing what most others choose to do, we wanted something different. We were hoping there’d be a product that would live up to our expectations – especially when we regularly travel to areas where vehicle pinstriping can be the norm. The novelty will soon wear thin if you need to touch up the duco after every trip!
After a stack of research on what surface coatings and paint finishes were on the market, we found there were a few available. But whatever we chose had to rank well on our scorecard and meet our criteria. The finish had to look good and be easy to touch up if needed… which tends to rule out acrylics and enamels where touch-ups can be visible. We also wanted something where professional spray painting didn’t come into the equation, so it wasn’t going to take a truckload of cash to apply the finish.
We ended up finding something that has suited us down to the ground: Raptor, made by British manufacturer U-pol. Besides working on metal, it can also be used on plastic, vinyl, fibreglass, concrete and wood. Then when you consider that it’s also waterproof and UV-resistant, the opportunities for its use are massive.
The product comes in a kit form with black and a tintable version available in a few different sizes. For smaller jobs, you can pick up 1-litre and 2-litre sizes; or there’s a 4-litre option for a more substantial project. Each kit comes with an amount of Raptor base and a hardener; you simply mix these together and apply. There’s also a larger 5-litre tin available which contains the Raptor base only.
Around the auto industry, Raptor is a popular choice as a ute boot liner coating… so our plans to use it on our ute’s canopy was a little left of field. The canopy had seen a series of different coatings used on it in the past, so we started by having it sandblasted and took it back to bare metal before following that up with a urethane two-pack undercoat primer for adhesive and rust prevention purposes. Raptor is easy enough to apply when you can use a roller or brush for different finishes, but a Schutz gun was our weapon of choice. With this device you simply wind up the regulator to get the desired finish and you’re good to go.
We chose a motley finish after initially finding that the fine finish shows imperfections. We liked the fact our motley finish can be easily touched up. One thing we learnt on the job was you need to make sure you keep moving while you’re applying Raptor to avoid having a ‘too heavy’ splatter from staying in the one position. Besides spraying the canopy’s exterior, certain areas inside the canopy were also sprayed as they would be visible with the gull wing doors open.
It took two full coats all over, and three coats for the areas that would be subject to copping more of a hammering (wheel arches and the underside). And for the entire job, we used around eight litres which included outside, underneath and partly inside the canopy. It’s a 24-hour touch dry process which then continues to harden off for roughly the next five days (depending on the temperature).
It’s now been two years since we applied the Raptor to our canopy, and we’re stoked with its performance. We’ve put it through some hellish terrain and all we’ve done is some light touch-ups. It’s strong, durable and easy to clean using just a high pressure washer and a mild detergent.
And it seems we’re not alone when it comes to singing its praises: It’s clear that Raptor is gaining popularity in the 4X4 and caravan and camping sectors too. Besides being used as a boot liner product, we’re seeing more vehicles painted with Raptor on their lower sections; and the RV industry uses it as a sacrificial coating by spraying the lower areas of caravans. Even our camper has it as an OEM supplied feature.
If you want a cost-effective coating solution that can easily be applied as a DIY job, is able to be purchased in small quantities, and can be tinted for any application, there’s many good reasons to go down the Raptor path. And just like its namesake, the coating has unprecedented toughness and durability qualities… which makes it a major player in the protective coatings market.
For more information, go to: raptorcoatings.com.au