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How to restore door pillars


October 14, 2011
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City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Explorer XLT Limited
I saw there was already a thread on this but I didn't want to hijack it with all my pics so I'm making my own since I used a different process.

Here is the other thread which will explain how to remove the pillars on pages 3 and 4.

Okay, here is my process:

After removing the 4 pillars from the doors (rear pillars are riveted in and need to be drilled out to be removed).

I used 800 grit paper followed by a rough pad/dish soap.
Finally a wax&grease remover just prior to spraying:


I then sprayed 1 light coat of adhesion promoter:

5 minutes later I started spraying the base coat.

In 5 minute intervals I sprayed 2 light layers of black base coat, you don't want it thick and glossy, just enough to cover the ugliness underneath.

Should look like this just after spraying:

after the 2nd coat dried:

once the base has flashed (15 minutes for this brand), begin with the clear:

This brand of clear called for 10 minutes between coats. This is after 3 coats:

I let the paint cure for at least 24 hours, every brand is different, so read the label.

After 24 hours, I wet sanded with 2000 grit.

Sand lightly and check often, You don't want to burn through, it's very easy to do on small pieces like this.

Notice the "freckles"....

That will be orange peel after buffing so keep going until it looks like this:

Time to bring the gloss back: I'm using a PC7424XP+yellow cut pad+Meguiar's M105 compound:


I then switched to a white polish pad and M205 polish:



back on the Ex:



Wife's happy: :biggthump

I will update this thread on my next day-off with removal/refinish/install of rear pillars.

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Looks very nice! I'm planning on doing mine soon as well using the same process you did. I just bought the paint, clear coat, and sandpaper last week. Did you do the D-pillar one also? I know that on the early 02 models, like mine, they can easily be removed because they are bolted onto the lift gate as opposed to later models where they are riveted to the quarter panel. I'm also planning on attempting to re-clear coat my factory rims.

Sorry... I just read the part about your D-pillars being riveted on. I must have skipped over that part by accident.

Nice write-up, man. I did almost the exact same process on trim off my other vehicle, since I went with flat paint on the Mountaineer. I am surprised that 800 grit was sufficient to clean up the trim originally...I had to go down to 400 to get all of the flaking off. I finished exactly the same as you did (on my other trim); 2000 to 105 to 205. It turned out awesome!

Well done... M105 is one of the 7 wonders... :)

Thanks for the last pic, BTW... :D

very nice job i love this cant wait to see the rear done :)

cant find any buffer pads around here that attach to a grinder tho idk whats up hate to have to go out and buy a whole new buffer when i have a perfectly good working dewalt grinder sitting doing nothing lol

What model # is the DeWalt? You might just need to buy a different backing plate that accommodates hook&loop pads. I'd be careful using a rotary (that's what the DeWalt will be), it's extremely easy to burn the paint off on small plastic parts like this, especially if you're new to buffing.

Well done... M105 is one of the 7 wonders... :)

Thanks for the last pic, BTW... :D

Actually, Yoga pants = 7th wonder :D


Vinyl!?! I gave it a shot...

$4.78 for a 24"x3' gloss black sheet





Took about an hour from start to finish for both back pillars.

May not be as crystal clear as the paint, but it's a LOT easier, cheaper and faster. I think Vinyl FTW!

edit: The material I used is Oracal 751, comes with a 7-year fade warranty :thumbsup:
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Awesome idea on the rear... :thumbsup:

Nice- I was going to suggest Oracal... I have it over the orange turn signals on my taillights. Oracal 8300 Exterior sign grade- no shrink after install. They went through a Michigan winter and still look great.


Yoga pants- agreed.


Many thanks for this write up.

Where did you purchase the sheets of Oracal 751 from?

I got the vinyl from a local sign shop. Pacific Coast Sign in Portland, OR

Those tails look awesome Joe, well done. Looks factory.

Also, I was thinking I could get away without doing any prepwork other than washing the pillars. WRONG! :eek: once the vinyl dries, it settles and shows all the roughness underneath. Make sure to sand first. Luckily the amount of vinyl I got will do the pillars many times over.

model # is dc411 i did find a pad at lowes today put it on seems to run to fast for it tho may go out and just buy a buffer lol

o and im very new to buffing lol i only buffed my old black ranger i had and that came out like sh**

model # is dc411 i did find a pad at lowes today put it on seems to run to fast for it tho may go out and just buy a buffer lol

Try "Harbor Freight Tools", they have several buffer/polishers and I bought mine at their local store. It was on sale for $29 and it is a 7" variable speed buffer/polisher. Works fine. FYI, when using a buffer/polisher on high speed, do not press hard against the side of the vehicle when using it to shine/ polish after waxing. Doing so can burn the paint. Just let the polishing pad lightly glide across the surface on high speed for a brilliant shine. When using it to apply the wax with a foam wax applicator pad, use it on low speed to rub the wax into the paint. Also, when applying the wax on low speed, you can gently press the applicator pad into paint. I like to buff the wax off by hand with towels, then I go over the truck with the polishing pad for a brighter shine. I get a mirror like shine in the paint job that way. Using a quality wax also helps, I use Meguiars Carnuba wax and have used Meguiars Ultimate, like both products.

ty :) went to autozone today and bought a buffer for 147 ish lol it looks almost like the one used here but dif brand

and ty for the tips :) apreciate it and i use meguiars nxt wax i like it but ill try these others to see how they are as well. i starting useing this wax when i was working at a car dealer as a reconditoner only thing they didnt teach me was to buff they had another guy buffing :(

PDX had a question for u. how long did u sand it with the 800 grit ? and i apologize if u answered it already i kinda skimed threw the comments and i might of missed it :) ty

Just sand until the surface is smooth and uniform. Any un-level surfaces will show through the paint or vinyl. You just need it to be smooth.

After painting, you use 2000grit or finer.

What buffer did you get from autozone? You could have picked up a Porter Cable 7424XP with a starter pad kit for around that price.

Also, M105 and M205 are not waxes, they are compounds and offer no protection from the elements. Basically they are sand paper but in liquid form because they are so fine.

Also also, DO NOT wax or seal fresh paint! It needs to breathe for at least a couple months! Wax will seal in the gases that need to escape in order for the paint to fully cure.

its a shurhold dual action polisher model 3100 dang thing didnt come with any pads had to go out and buy them sepretly and they didnt evan have the ones i wanted/needed lol

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i did most of the work today all i need to do it sand with 2000 grit tomorrow and buff / polish them and im done with the side ones :)