Recoloring Rubber Surfaces
There are a wide variety of rubber materials in use in our everyday life. There are rubber coatings on playground equipment, rubber roofs on new and old homes, hypalon inflatable boats, rubber mats, rubber doors and etc… Since rubber materials flex, changing the color on them used to be nearly impossible. People would try to coat these items with paint type coatings. These coatings could not flex with the rubber; therefore, they would crack and peel off.
New technology brings both solvent based and water borne coatings, affording flexible coatings that move and flex with rubber materials. Some of these solvent based coatings chemically bond with the rubber substrate and actually become part of the rubber material. This allows these coatings to stay in place. The water borne coatings are still in their infancy, but are getting better and better.
When choosing a coating, you must do your homework. There are many coatings on the market that simply do not work. Most of them simply sit on the surface and do not chemically bond to the rubber substrate. They are not flexible and some are quite toxic. You will want to choose a coating that is UV stable, abrasion resistant and non-toxic. And, of course, the coating you choose must produce a proper chemical bond.
To get the best results, most rubber coatings must be sprayed on. This is usually attained with a low pressure / low volume spray gun. All rubber surfaces must be properly prepared. Each supplier of rubber coatings should provide you with specific preparation procedures. Typically a good degreaser must be used to remove dirt, old polish or wax, silicones and other surface contaminates.
If the rubber coating is good, it is generally also easy to apply. These coatings can end up making rubber surfaces look brand new. Some folks are finding that they save a lot of money by re-coloring rubber surfaces instead of replacing them.