Linseed Oil on Faded Paint: Will It Restore the Project’s Looks?

Paint fading is usually caused by the oxidation of the metal. Paint and trim will usually fade when exposed to the sun’s brutal UV rays. This is quite common for cars that are parked outside without being covered. As UV rays heat the painted metal, they will penetrate the coating and the paint will begin to be heated.

This heating process will introduce oxygen to the underlayer of paint and it catalyzes oxidation. Paint can also fade due to road salt, abrasive cleaners, air pollutants, and bird droppings.

Many experts online have claimed that linseed oil is the best way to restore faded paint.

Can Linseed Oil Restore Faded Paint?

Linseed oil is a common finish for wood. However, it can also be used on metal surfaces. It penetrates and preserves the metal surface from oxidation. It is important to prepare the metal surface before applying linseed oil to get amazing results.

Linseed oil can be used to temporarily give some gleam and luster back to a faded metal while keeping the original paint. It works well on other surfaces like leather seats and dashboards, metals like structural beams, handrails, and rifles, and with wooden objects like cabinets, cupboards, and interior and exterior doors. It is important to note that boiled linseed oil will give faded paint a temporary shine, but it will not restore it.

It is always recommended to avoid having a layer of water on the metal surface when applying linseed oil. This, therefore, means that you should avoid painting surfaces outdoors, especially in high humidity or fog conditions. If it rains on the metal surface after applying linseed oil, you will end up with water droplet-shaped patches on the surface. Always keep the metal piece away from rain or moisture for up to one week to ensure the linseed oil dries adequately.

Safety Precautions when Applying Linseed Oil

When using linseed oil for your project, it is important to have these safety precautions in mind since liquid linseed oil is dangerous whenever it is exposed to heat or flames. The risk usually happens when leftover linseed oil on paper towels and rags is left out in the open. They easily combust and catch fire.

This is because when it is exposed to air, linseed oil molecules combine with oxygen molecules in the air. This chemical reaction is exothermic. If linseed is on a paper towel or a cotton rag, it easily catches fire even if the temperature is low.

How to Restore Faded Paint

Linseed oil cannot be used to restore faded or heavily oxidized paint. Restoration of faded paint using other methods is dependent on mostly the condition of the clear coat finish. Restoration is possible up to the point where the failure of the clear coat begins. If the faded metal has no clearcoat then it is unrealistic to restore it. Similarly, if the paint has faded to the point of exposing the primer, then you can forget about trying to restore it.

Once a section of paint fades, the rest of the paint will usually follow suit. It is recommended to do a full car paint restoration instead of doing minor repairs. However, if you would prefer to do a quick fix for your faded paint, here are the steps you should follow.

1. Remove rust from the metal surface

The first step is to have rusted metal surfaces freed from rust. This can be done by sandblasting, sanding down with steel wool, or by using wire brushes to clean the bare metal. You can use a weak acid like phosphoric acid to remove light rust.

As paint oxidize, the paint’s top layer usually begins to flake off. This dead paint and bonded contamination need to be removed with a clay bar.

2. Wash and dry the object

After removing rust from the metal, you need to wash it thoroughly with soap or dishwashing liquid and water. Always use the two-bucket method when washing the metal surface.

One bucket will have the dishwashing liquid solution while the second bucket will contain plain water for rinsing the washing mitt. Clean the metal surface section-wise, rinsing the wash mitt in the water bucket before reloading it with dishwashing liquid solution. You then need to degrease it and dry it off.

If you’re washing the metal surface outside and it’s hot out, then you can work on small sections at a time to avoid soap suds drying on the metal surface and leaving a streaky residue. Always remember to wash any surface before performing any detailing work. This helps you not to rub bits of debris and dirt into the paint.

3. Spray automotive clay lube and rub with a clay bar

Automotive clay lube is used with clay bars to remove contaminants from the metal surface of your car’s paint. The lube helps the clay bar slide smoothly across the paint while it picks up contaminants. This helps in avoiding scratches to the paint.

Spray the clay lube generously on the faded area. Ensure that the entire faded area is covered with the lube then gently rub the clay bar across the painted surface using up and down or left and right motions. This will remove all dirt particles on the surface.

4. Buffing

The fun part of the whole process is the buffing and polishing stage. Before you start buffing, you will need an electric buffer and a buffing pad.

To start buffing, first, dip the buffing pad in some clean water for a few seconds. Then attach it to the rotary disc of the electric buffer. Wetting the pad lubricates it and it will enable you to move it effortlessly over the painted surface. Always remember to place the buffing pad face-up to avoid it picking up dirt and debris that could scratch your car paint.

Next, apply a small dab of a buffing compound to the buffing pad. Press the buffing pad against the faded surface. The buffer should be moved evenly over the faded area in overlapping strokes. Alternate buff in up to down and right to left directions.

For large surface areas, work in small sections at a time. The buffing compound, also known as a cutting polish, uses micro-abrasive technology where the top layer of paint is removed without scouring the finish.

Remember to remove as little paint as possible since oxidation has already taken place. When polishing plastic mirrors and plastic bumper caps, be very careful. Polish these areas with a finishing polish by hand.

5. Wiping with a microfiber cloth

To achieve a shiny look, use a microfiber cloth to wipe the compound off the surface. Rub the cloth firmly across the buffed surface to remove any residue of the buffing compound. You can physically inspect to check whether the surface is smooth and whether the color is restored. Get down to an eye level to get a clear view of whether the surface is nice and shiny again.

6. Repeat the buffing process

You can repeat the buffing process up to three times until you’re happy with how the paint looks. In case you see paint swirls on the metal surface, don’t worry, you can polish them out later.

7. Applying finishing polish

By applying a finishing polish, you will achieve a shiny surface and you will eliminate light swirls and minor imperfections that remained after the buffing stage. Replace the buffing pad with a polishing wheel to start the polishing process. Add finishing polish to the pad and apply it on the faded surface just like you added the buffing compound.

8. Waxing

After polishing, waxing will add an extra layer of protection against UV rays, acid rain, road salt, bird droppings, or tree sap.

Using a microfiber cloth, rub wax on the polished area and rub it in circular motions till the whole restored area is covered with wax. Paint sealant can also be used instead of car wax and it’s more durable. If you want an extremely shiny surface though, wax is the way to go.

Finally, using a clean microfiber cloth, buff off the waxed area until all the waxy residue is removed. Your surface will be nice and shiny after this. Apply 1-3 coats of wax to get a deeper color of paint.

Final words

Boiled linseed oil prevents rust from forming on metallic objects by blocking oxygen or moisture from reaching the metal’s surface. Though it can temporarily give faded surfaces a shiny look, linseed oil does not restore the faded paint. To restore faded surfaces, start by cleaning the surface with water and dishwashing liquid to remove contaminants like rust and dust.

You will then use automotive clay lubes and clay bars to remove other contaminants on the paint surface. Next, buff and polish the faded surface using buffing and polishing compounds. Finally, apply a coating of wax to achieve a glossy-looking surface and restore the faded paint.