11-19-2009, 11:51 AM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: New Oxford, PA
How to: Prep and Paint
Time and time again I am noticing people asking questions on painting their vehicle. So I am going to try and cover all the points of painting and prepping. If after reading this you still have more questions feel free to ask by PMing me and I will try to help you as much as I can.
First Step-Finding a Place to Prep and Paint a Car
The first step in considering how to paint a car is deciding on where to paint the vehicle. There are a few options. You could rent a paint booth, this would provide a dry, clean, temperature controlled area in which to paint the car.
You could also either paint the car in your garage or in your driveway. You should do some research in your area concerning where you can paint a car due to the fact it is illegal in some areas.
The second step in considering how to paint a car is proper preparation. Proper preparation of the car is a very important part of the painting process. If the cars surface is not properly prepared for the application of paint, defects in the finish of the car could occur. Proper preparation begins with using a good wax and grease remover in addition to washing the car thoroughly before sanding.
The third step in considering how to paint a car is sanding the vehicle. Proper preparation also involves sanding the car. Most people do not enjoy the sanding process, but it is what separates the men/women from the boys/girls when it comes to a successful paint job. Everyone is anxious to apply the paint to a car but don't want to put time into a quality sanding job.
If your hesitant about putting the proper time into sanding a car you really shouldn't even start the job. When applied properly, a quality sanding job will make the difference between a show car and a average paint job almost anyone could produce. So think about this before you follow the next steps.
You want to make sure the car has something for the paint to adhere to. So taking your sanding block and 600grit wets sand paper go over the whole car. Making sure to take the shine out of the clear coat. You can keep the sand paper wet by using a bucket of water with a little baby shampoo in it. This will help in the sanding process.
Once you have gone over the whole car with 600grit and the clear is now dull, go over the car again with 800grit wet sand paper. This is going to get arid of the deep cuts that were put into the clear by the 600grit. But you do not want to go any higher then 800grit at this point, if you do this will not give a rough enough surface for the paint to adhere to.
Sanding is really about feel and discovering imperfections. You should be meticulous while sanding, trying to discover and correct all the mistakes, scratches and small dings until you can inspect the entire car body without finding one. You should then invite a friend or two to inspect your work to see if they can find a flaw in the body of the car. Just remember the end result of your paint job depends mostly on the quality of your sanding.
The fourth step in considering how to paint a car is masking the parts of the car that you don't want painted. This is achieved by using a special self-adhesive masking tape designed specifically for car body spraying. You should be sure to cover the lights, windows, wheels and any other part of the car you won't be painting before you begin the priming process.
Fifth Step-Chemical Safety
The fifth step in considering how to paint a car is chemical safety. Chemical safety is a necessary precaution when working with all paint-related materials. Safety equipment should be purchased and used during the painting process.
You will need an approved respirator, disposable nit-rile gloves, eye goggles and a painters suit. Another important point to remember is to carefully read all instructions in regards to chemicals you are using.
Sixth Step-Purchasing the Proper Equipment
The sixth step in considering how to paint a car is purchasing the proper paint equipment. You will need to purchase a paint gun. I recommend you purchase a gravity feed HVLP paint gun. With this paint gun you'll be able to spray every bit of paint in the cup. Other paint guns such as siphon-feed paint guns tend to leave a small amount of paint in the cup.
You will also need an air compressor that can handle the demands of your paint gun and a moisture separator to ensure that you have a dry air supply. Moisture in your air supply can very often ruin a paint job. You may also want to consider using cup liners which can allow you to spray the paint at different angles and even upside-down. (I personally use the DeVILBISS DeKUPS disposable cup system)
It is very important that you clean your paint gun immediately after every use to avoid paint curing in your gun. It will set very quickly and you will be buying a new gun soon thereafter.
The seventh step in considering how to paint a car is applying primer to the car body. Primers are materials that are applied directly over properly prepared bare metal. Epoxy primer is a waterproof material used to protect bear metal from the process of oxidation.
Epoxy is also used to cover imperfections such as scratches and small dings that have occurred during the sanding process. One or two coats of this primer are usually recommended and are applied before the application of any other product.
Most painters use a guide coat (usually black spray can enamel) over the metal surface. Once the guide coat is applied, the primer is sanded with a sanding block until all of the guide coat has been removed. It is very important to let the primer sit for at least two hours or preferable overnight before sanding.
A few auto body painters believe that epoxy primer does not have to be sanded unless runs, scratches or slight imperfections are discovered after you have applied it. But most auto body painters are of the opinion that there will always be some imperfections after applying the epoxy primer and therefore sanding with a sanding block to correct them is usually the proper recourse.
Sealer primer is then applied for the purpose of protecting the undercoat from the materials and solvents contained in the soon to be sprayed top coat. Simply stated the sealer primer creates a wall of protection between the undercoat and the top coat.
Sealer also provides the top coat paint a consistent base to enhance color uniformity. In essence the proper sealer will make the difference between an exceptional paint job or an average one.
Eighth Step-Selecting and Spraying the Top Coating
The eighth step in considering how to paint a car is selection of the proper Top Coat of Paint. Your project will depend on what outcome you will want to achieve when painting your car. There are several different types of paints used to achieve the perfect finish.
There are Base coat/Clear coat paints, Urethane paints, Water-based paints and Acrylic lacquer or Acrylic enamel paints. Head on down to your favorite paint and body shop and ask them what type of paint they would use.
Learning to spray the paint from your gun onto the cars surface without it running, blotching or drying out is an art. Only after many hours of painting will you be able to acquire the skill needed to produce a quality paint job.
Try to hold the gun 6 inches from the surface of the car. The gun must stay perpendicular to the surface as you move it at a uniform speed. Be careful not to move your wrist because this will vary the guns distance from the surface and create an uneven spray.
A neat trick to gain experience is to spray very slowly with an empty gun. Actually air paint the car to get the feel of the gun and the motion.
But what will happen is initially you will be become very skilled at buffing, due to all of the mistakes and imperfections you will have to correct. Practice your spraying skills on different objects and materials in your shop or garage such as old tool boxes, bicycle frames anything that can hold a coat of paint.
Once everyone knows you paint cars, you'll get a lot of people wanting you to paint their cars. Charge them for expenses and practice, practice, practice. Once you bang out a couple of nice paint jobs, there will be no shortage of jobs to work on.
Don't be to hard on yourself after your first couple of paint jobs. Your going to make mistakes and learn a few lessons along the way. But with practice and dedication you will get the hang of it. You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you'll catch on.