Behold as we come face to face with one of the most feared things for auto tuners, the paint gun. As cars age they start to rust, clear coat peals off, and sometimes dings and dents are visible from the years of usage. Painting a car is an art and will truly make your car stand out as there are so many different colors and ways to spray the car. Body shops take in a lot of money from a paint job and it’s a price many people can not afford out of pocket. Some go to the shop to get their exterior refinished as they are afraid of the tedious work and want someone to do it right the first time, others want to do it themselves because they have done all of the work on their car themselves and don’t want the finishing piece to be done by someone else. I was one of those people that wouldn’t go to a mechanic or a body shop as I wanted to take all of the credit for the work that is done to my car. I'll take you through the steps to help you understand and hopefully do your own cars paint job.
Depending on the condition of your car, the amount of time and preparation to start spraying will vary. We are going to learn how to re-spray a car with moderate body damage of small dings and rusts spots. If you have the opportunity to find
|• Paint Gun/Paint Kit
• Air Compressor of at least 25 gallons
• Sanding Blocks
• Various Sand Paper 80-1500 grit
• Body Filler
• Paint Thinner or Acetone
• Clear Coat
• Guide Coat Chalk
• Masking Tape
• Plastic Foil
• Box Fan
• Mixing Cup and Sticks
Additional Supplies & Links
•$14.99 = HVLP SPRAY GUN
•$ 4.99 = HVLP GUN HOLDER (highly recommended)
•$ 4.99 = 1-QT GRADUATED MIXING CUPS (12PACK)
•$10.63 = 2000 GRIT WET/DRY 9x11 SANDING SHEETS (5-PACK) For color sanding when done
•$11.45 = PAINT SUIT (optional)
•$ 3.16 = GOGGLES (for the sensitive man)
•$ 7.80 = RUN RAZOR (for those that need to file off those runs and buildup in the paint)
The materials and tools for this job can all range different prices as some are more quality than others. For cars with lots of rust or damage you might want to get a welder and sheet metal to replace the eaten away metal, but this kind of work requires lots of skills and you are better off having a shop doing it for you. To save on costs you can have them just weld the new metal on and not paint it as you will be able to handle it from there.
Begin by giving the car a wash with regular dish washing soap, you want to use dish washing soap because it has degreaser in it and will remove any old wax or grease that is on the car. After the car is nice and clean, start sanding away at the old paint with a sander. You want to use 80 grit if the paint is faded a lot and has spots of surface rust, but if you’re current condition is not very bad use 120 grit. Make smooth movements across the paint to dull it out so it does not have any more shine. Sand down the entire car until it is smooth where you can slide your hand against the surface and not feel any bumps or hills. If you do feel bumps or dents you must use bondo body filler to fill in the holes.
Using body filler is pretty simple as all you have to do is mix the amount you need with the hardener and apply it using the spreader over the dent. When the filler dries you can then use a sanding block with 80 grit sandpaper to make the section smooth as if it was never there. This may require you to repeat the process a few times before you get it right. It is very important to be patient and do the job right because if you leave a section without being smooth, it will show very distinctly when the clear coat is applied.
After you remove all your dents, but have some rust spots, those will have to be removed as well. Sand down the rust until it you reach healthy metal. Usually when you sand down rust till it’s gone, you create a small crater which may not feel like a lot, but when the clear coat is applied it will stand out. Mix a little bit of body filler and fill in the small crater. Use a sanding block like you did before to smoothen out the surface until you cannot feel a difference when sliding your hand over the area.
After your entire car is now free of dents and rust spots, sand it again with 320 grit sandpaper to make the surface even smoother. Make sure you do a nice smooth job and keep away from making craters and lines in the surfaces by moving in circles and smooth motions that flow with the curvature of the cars body. If you happen to sand down to bare metal in some areas don’t worry, just make sure the surface is smooth and does not have any elevation changes. You will have to spray the bare metal spot with the etching primer which you can get in a spray can. Put down a few smooth coats over the area and let the spots dry. The reason for using etching primer on these spots is because regular primer will not stick well to bare metal.
Everything you did up to this point could take days and sometimes over a week! Don't be discouraged as all the hard work will soon pay off. With the car smooth and well prepped for primer, wash it very precisely with the dish washing detergent to get rid of all the dust and particles. It is best to keep the car as clean as possible as much as you can. As weird as it sounds due to constant sanding and prep work it really helps because paint, primer, clear coat, body filler or fiberglass does not stick well to a dirty surface. When everything is clean and dry it is time to start taping away your windows, mirrors, lights, and anything you don’t want the primer to get on. Spots like wheel wells, mufflers, and things behind the front bumper are important to mask off as the paint or primer will be very noticeable and hard to get rid of at the end of the paint job. Using old magazines or newspaper helps as you can lay it and tape it down so you don’t over consume on masking tape. Be very precise with masking as any spot you miss will definitely get sprayed.
Now the car is ready to be sprayed with primer, but first it's time to transform your garage into a spray booth. Using a water hose spray the floor and walls down to get rid of dust and dirt that can land on the paint. Line the walls and ceiling with the plastic foil (or buy a portable spray booth) to keep overspray and dirt from coming through. Place the box fan in a window or opening so that it can suck out the air from inside the garage. Once you have a clean and sealed area to spray in the garage will be pretty much ready. If you do not have a garage, some people use PCV plastic piping to create a paint booth. The piping and elbows can construct a box to fit you and your car in where you can spray it.
Mix your primer to the proper ratio that is shown on the can and fill it into your gun. Let the air compressor air up and connect all your lines. Before you spray anything on the car, adjust your paint gun for the amount of air pressure and paint flow you want. You usually want somewhere around 20 PSI of air pressure and you can turn the knob on the gun to adjust how much flow you want. Practice spraying on a piece of card board or paper so when it comes to spray the car you know what you’re doing. Spray the panels in a smooth motion going from left to right and right to left like zigzags until you cover the whole car with a coat of primer. Let 15-30 minutes pass before you spray the next coat. Make sure you put down around 3 or 4 coats and let it dry over night or as long as it says on the can.
The guide coat chalk is basically a black powder that you spread onto the primer with a sponge. It helps you see where the sanding is smooth or where it is rough when sanding the primer. Spread the powder out all over the car till it’s fully covered where you sprayed the primer. Fill up a container with water, using 800 grit sand paper and a sanding block start wet sanding the primer. Wet sanding is basically sanding but using water while sanding. You’ll notice the guide coat will start disappearing as you sand it off and all the surfaces will become very smooth. After your done wet sanding run your hand across the car to make sure there are no imperfections. If there are any imperfections you need to smoothen them out by either sanding more or using body filler and repeating the process in that area.
Once the car is nice and smooth, its time to wash it again and mask it back up for the next step. Now its time to spray the base coat and it is basically the same procedure as with the primer except you do not wet sand the base coat. Mix your paint and fill up your gun, practice on cardboard and spray around 3 or 4 coats on the car. Give it around 20-30 minutes between coats. After the last coat clean your gun and mix your clear coat. Spray your clear coat nice and evenly and make sure you get it nice and even. A few coats of clear will give the paint job its final glossy shine. Let everything dry over night or as long as the can states to dry for.
The last step is optional, but can really put the finishing touch on your car. Next it's time to again wet sand the clear coat and buff the whole car. Using 1500 grit sandpaper, wet sand the car and buff it so it will have a real clear and crisp shine. When you are sanding be very careful not to sand through the clear coat and onto the paint because there will be a spot where the shine is missing.
Now the only thing left to do is to drive around and show off your brand new looking car. It seems like a lot of work and very difficult, but once you start and take it step by step, it really isn't as hard as it seems. If you have questions or comments, please post them below! Here are some other resources you may find valuable!