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PMB Restored Painted Calipers


On Painted Calipers

Let’s talk about painted calipers.  You’re here.  You’re curious.  Let’s get down to the heart of the matter and talk about the dos and don’ts and rights and wrongs.

Our friends at Brembo® are the hands down leaders in painted calipers.  They began this process in the early '80s and… they were a huge hit.  Who among us hasn’t uttered the words “Big Red”?  For a while there, red calipers became synonymous with performance for the entire industry.  It literally sent droves of performance minded enthusiasts out to the driveway with a can of red spray paint to add 10hp to their now custom ride!  Through decade’s long manufacturing processes, Brembo® has literally “perfected” the art of the painted caliper so, as with our factory emulated zinc plated steel caliper processes, we ask ourselves (and you the reader); why reinvent the wheel?  We’re not trying to reinvent it, we’re just trying to properly restore it.  

Let’s face it, there are hundreds of companies out there painting, repainting and refinishing calipers. Notice we didn’t mention “Restoring” calipers.  The time has come where painted calipers on these exclusive cars are in need of attention.  Porsche 951 calipers can be 33 years timeworn (ouch, I’m really feeling old right now).  It’s customary for us to want to have them look and perform the best they can.  It’s also deeply laden in our human genome to seek out the “best deal”. 

Do yourself a favor, take 5 minutes to find out what you’re getting into.  These are “brake calipers” we’re talking about… those little things on each wheel separating us from life and death.

Here are the things that separate PMB Performance from the field and solidify our now famous tag line “We Don’t Rebuild… We Restore”.

We Start at the Core

Most of the calipers we paint are aluminum.  This comment also applies to steel calipers as well.  The base metal needs to be treated.  With aluminum calipers, it’s “Anodizing” that the factory applies during the manufacturing process.  With steel calipers, it’s “Zinc Plating”.  Most, if not all, of the rebuilders/repainters we’ve seen simply media blast your finish off the caliper and strip all of the “extremely important” anodizing or zinc off the caliper bodies.  This is a “huge” no-no as your calipers will immediately begin to corrode or rust underneath the paint.  They NEED that base coating to survive another 30 years!  PMB’s exclusive stripping process for your aluminum calipers leaves 100% of your factory anodizing intact.  If it’s a steel caliper, we’ll strip it to bare metal and re-zinc plate the entire body, inside and out.  This is an extra cost center but, we feel it’s a must! 

The Seals Designed for your Calipers

Let’s start with a little known fact; calipers are completely assembled at the factory prior to painting.  If you ever have a chance to recolor a set of 2019 Ferrari calipers, you’ll notice the overspray on the dust boots.  After we strip your calipers, we’ll immediately reassemble them.  This is where the magic and mystery basically meets up with a simple principle; factory seals.  I’ll admit, we tried it… with horrifying results! The lure of a bore seal costing what it actually should cost was too much.  In the end, we lost money in paying shipping charges to get the calipers back because they leaked.  Refinishing calipers that leaked, purchasing the right seals because they leaked.  This is another (huge) cost center but, the old adage; “do it right the first time” applies here.

Paint not Powder

We get the calls daily “Can you powder coat my STI calipers purple”?  No.  Here’s why; as mentioned above, the calipers are completely assembled prior to painting.  The assembly process requires assembly lube.  The powder coating process involves heat over 450 degrees.  If you’ve ever powder coated something, “out-gassing” is a real thing.  Try powder coating a control arm with an old bearing in it.  The heat causes the grease in the old bearing to liquefy and melt out, ruining your finish.  Assembly lube does the same thing.  Now let’s revisit “reinventing the wheel”; these calipers were meant to be painted, not powder coated.  Powder can be too thick causing pad fitment issues (yes, we know people who have to grind their pads to get them to fit).  Let’s Segway into paint.

The Paint and the Process

The factory paint cycle is a complex process, which they’ve perfected over the years. It includes, applying an epoxy primer, polyurethane base coat and a clear coat acrylic.  It’s not a one step, inexpensive polymer coating.  If you’ve made it this far, we’ve agreed that we’re not looking to reinvent, just restore.

At PMB Performance, a step-by-step process is used. The first step after reassembly is to apply the base primer.  We do this in a dedicated painting booth and then the calipers get baked using a high temperature oven. Then the base coat is applied to the calipers. The base coat is done by hand and it’s not easy!  It takes quite a bit of training to get it right.  There’s a lot of corners and cavities on these calipers that love to hide from you while you’re gleefully painting away. Once painted, the calipers are then sent back through the baking process.

The next step includes branding the brakes by means of transfer decals.  The factory uses “tampography” which is a fancy way of saying silicone stamp printing the logos directly onto the caliper.  Tampography machines cost a pretty penny so for our restoration process, we use transfer decals (vs. stick on vinyl that 99.9% of the respray/rebuilders use).  Transfer decals are less than paper thin and give the exact effect of the tampography but offer flexibility for our custom restoration needs.  Vinyl stickers end up sticking up through the clear coat giving that telltale sign that your caliper has been refinished.

And finally, the painting process is completed by adding three layers of clear coat to top things off.  The transfer decals are now embedded into the clear and the caliper looks like new.  Your replated springs and pad plates get installed (we're the only ones re-plating those) and… you have a new caliper.

So you can see, there’s a lot more to having your painted calipers restored vs. just having them repainted.  From the very beginning, we take care of your caliper to its core to ensure long term durability and usability in all conditions.

For Restoration - Nothing Beats the Original

These were the original calipers that came on your car.  With the proper care and maintenance, they can once again, provide you with decades of reliable, safe service (and look really good doing it!).

4-Piston Alloy Caliper Restoration
4-Piston Alloy Caliper Restoration

A multi-Level PMB painted caliper restoration includes stripping to the core body while retaining the factory anodizing.  Cleaning, prepping and re-sealing with factory seals.  Assembling, taping and masking piston areas.  Epoxy primer, base coat, transfer decal logos and 3 coats of acrylic clear.  All hardware is plated with factory yellow zinc.


6-Piston Alloy Caliper Restoration
6-Piston Alloy Caliper Restoration

A multi-Level PMB painted caliper restoration includes stripping to the core body while retaining the factory anodizing.  Cleaning, prepping and re-sealing with factory seals.  Assembling, taping and masking piston areas.  Epoxy primer, base coat, transfer decal logos and 3 coats of acrylic clear.  All hardware is plated with factory yellow zinc.


If you don't see your model listed here please send us an e-mail at sales@pmbperformance.com or call (855) STOP-101 (855-786-7101).  We can usually get what you need within 1-2 business days.

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