Kubota’s bright orange aesthetic makes it an instantly recognizable brand, especially to those who own or work on tractors, farmers, and construction workers. The problem with that bright, pretty orange is that Kubota tractor paint is known for rapidly fading. What gives? Why does Kubota paint fade so fast?
Without being present for the application process, we’re left with one known factor: acrylic enamel. Unfortunately, acrylic’s days as a primary exterior paint are fading fast, and as water-based paint, its resistance to UV is substantial but not everlasting.
When you combine interior heat from an operating engine with the harsh UV light that tractors endure, the acrylic enamel paint that Kubota uses and sells is apparently not up to the task, at least not for long.
Acrylic has long been the choice for exterior vehicle paints. However, urethane is stepping up to fill in the void.
The Problems with Acrylic Paint
Kubota paints their tractors with acrylic enamel, and their application process is either conventional or airless spray painting. Acrylic is a water-based paint, which makes it thinner and easy to spray.
The water is what the acrylic and pigments bond to, which gives the spray painter a distinct and easy advantage when spraying a Kubota during the latter stages of the manufacturing process.
A few issues with acrylic paint may ultimately be responsible for the perception that they fade over a short amount of time.
- As a water-based paint, acrylic enamel dries rapidly, which presents a harsher finish
- Modern acrylic paints dry much slower than traditional acrylic paints
- Little is known about the longevity of acrylic paints
- Its cheaper, and, of course that means its widely embraced in industrial painting
There is another curious thing that is taking place across the manufacturing industry, especially where auto detailing is concerned.
Acrylic paints are being rejected. The auto detailing industry is a fair comparison since vehicles typically have metal and plastic bodies, just like a Kubota Tractor.
Instead, the auto detailing industry is moving towards urethane paints, where there is a perception that urethane is more durable, long-lasting, and UV resistant than the acrylic paint alternative.
What is Urethane Paint, and Why Does it Matter?
It matters because if your Kubota tractor is fading and you want to return it to its original luster and glossy shine, you may want to look into spray painting it orange.
When we say “spray painting,” we’re referring to an actual spray gun and a conventional or airless spray method rather than a spray paint can.
The only drawback to urethane paints is that if you are not a professional, it will take you some time to learn the ins and outs of the paint.
Unlike acrylic, which you can spray right out of the can, urethane requires mixing, is oil-based, and will probably need to be thinned with a special urethane thinner before application.
Fortunately, when urethane is atomized out of a spray gun, its atomized in larger droplets than acrylic paint, so it covers much better. Urethane is incredibly durable and will last longer than acrylic paints.
There’s a reason it is becoming the far more popular paint in auto detailing shops, while some stick with acrylic simply because it’s cheap and they can get cars in and out of the shop quickly.
What to Do if Your Kubota Paint is Fading
You have a few choices here, and most people choose to let it fade, as irritating as it may be to watch it happen. You can certainly do that. Just because the original acrylic Kubota paint is fading doesn’t mean the tractor will fall apart.
Unless the underlying metal is exposed, the acrylic paint will still protect it to a large degree. The other option is to take the Kubota tractor and have it detailed. Usually, you would take it into a tractor repair shop, but it’s possible that you could get an auto detailer to do it.
Not much separates an auto detail job from a tractor detail job because the principles remain the same. The only difference is that the masking to protect certain parts from overspray will be slightly different.
Your third and last option is to repair the paint yourself. The biggest problem with this boils down to needing the tools.
Acrylic paint is notorious for not reactivating. This is because it has to reactivate to bond a new paint. That means that your best bet is to remove the acrylic paint entirely.
You’ll need a sander, compressor for blowing out dust, masking paper, and masking tape, a paint gun kit to connect to the compressor, and plenty of urethane paint in a matching color. You’ll also need a mask or a respirator unless you have a ton of ventilation.
Urethane paint has a much higher VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) count than acrylic paint, and you do not want to breathe in VOCs. Ever.
DIY Paint Repair Job
The vast majority of a successful spray painting job stems from prep work. The paint won’t properly bond with the underlying surface if it’s not prepped well. So be sure to follow all the directions when mixing the paint, adding urethane thinner, and applying the primer first.
Stick with a single-stage urethane job and thoroughly sand the entire painting surface. If you can entirely remove the acrylic, do so.
Take a chip off of your original acrylic down to your local hardware store. They will match the color with a urethane alternative.
- Thoroughly sand and remove the original acrylic
- Blow it off with compressed air
- Wash the tractor thoroughly
- Wash it again
- Mask and tape everything that you don’t want to paint
- Apply two all-purpose primer coats (lay it on lightly)
- Mix and prep your urethane paint
- Apply the right amount of urethane thinner (if applicable)
- Spray paint the tractor
- Pull the trigger and move constantly, maintaining 6″ to 10″ away from the surface
- Maintain a straight wrist while you paint and never curl it to change directions
- Paint in overlapping row patterns
- Watch the above spray painting link to get an idea of how to move
- Only one nice coat of urethane is necessary, but you can apply a second, lighter coat if you missed anything
- Do not spray paint it in the sun
- Allow for 48 hours of curing time
Unless you have experience with industrial painting, you may find this process difficult or expensive because you will need to purchase all of the necessary tools if you don’t already have them.
The only other option is to take the tractor in and have it professionally done.
You can always sand it down and paint it with the original acrylic enamel that Kubota sells. However, if you had a problem with it fading out rapidly, you’re getting the same exact paint to replace it with.
There are certainly a lot of complaints out there referring to Kubota’s fading paint, regardless of particular models. If this happens with yours, you can let it go, replace the faded paint with more Kubota orange, launch a DIY project using urethane paint, or take it in for a professional spray job.