How To: Automotive Painting

Fiberglass, body panels, valences. Also interior pieces like seats, dashes, etc
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How To: Automotive Painting

Postby Lames » Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:06 pm

This will be a guide that goes over a lot of different aspects of painting and if it is right for you. Also how to do what, when to do it and what to watch out for. This will be an ever expanding and ever evolving thread created with the help of many of this forums members, basic knowledge gained from books and from others who have done so in the field. This will give you a taste of the work that will go into your car if you choose to go down this route, if it's too much then maybe a shop will be able to paint your car for you. It's your time and money, so it your choice. Even by doing the body work yourself and the primer etc you can save your self a lot of money if you don't feel up to spraying your whole car.

More or less it will cover and touch base with these items:
-tools (different types of guns, hammers and sanders etc)
-body work, bondo/fiberglass and when it's just right to get a new junkyard fender etc
-Welding, if never done any body welding, so there will have to be something here just for that like patching in new panels etc
-sandpaper what grits/when/why/how wet/dry etc
-primer types and what they need and what they are good for
-different types of paints from rattle can to what ever you can get in a gallon to spray yourself
-clear, what to look for, with sanding
-also trouble shooting, like why are you getting this texture and what to do about it
-compound/polish agents + buffing
- how to take care and when to wax

Intro:

The basic to painting is the paint, and making sure it sticks also coming out with a great shine to it. There are a lot of different ways to get to the final product but maybe one way is a bit more well suited for you and yor budget. Pretty much you have you, and your busted up hunk of junk. You need to make sure your car is straight and the body panels are lined up properly. Even the best job ever done painting wise done with out proper bodywork doesn't mean jack. Then your off to sand. After the body is straight and looking good you'll move onto primer which is the base to a great paint job it helps fill in scratches create a surface that is more even and pretty much is what keeps your paint for your basecoat sticking to your car. There are a couple different types of primer and even a sealer for your primer which will be covered later on. Then you have to sand some more! Your basecoat contains the color that you are looking for. This is where your paint job starts looking like what you want and getting closer to that showroom finish you've been lusting for. Then maybe even some more sanding! Next is clear, it can have small flakes of what ever to give it a bit different shine but it is what is going to protect your base coat of paint for years to come. After that there is a cutting compond wich will take out the wetsanding (yep even more sanding!) you do to your clear which will take out the fine lines. Followed by an even finer polish compound which will really bring out the shine in your paint job. That's the basics if you decide to go primer-base-clear-compond. Different paints which will be talked about later may be quicker and even take out a step or two.

I.) Tools

What kind of tools will you need for your project, well you'll need a good amount. You'll need your usual tools to remove any and all trim if you choose to take them off. If you do so it will result in a more "crisp" cleaner paint job. It's your car and your time you do what ever you like. :) Then there is a bunch of sanding paper. There are two kinds if you want, you will need to get wet/dry and dry if you choose. You NEED wet/dry though. During the later portion of your paint job IE any and all color sanding will be done with wet sanding. Your paper will last longer and get less of a paint build up. Also it won't warm the paint. You can dry sand the body work portion and the primer stage if you want. That's totally cool. You will also need a handful of different blocks to help you sand your car down to shape and up to shine. From thin rubber block to a larger longer, long board. You'll need a bunch of different grits of sandpaper and even a cheese grater looking thing. The cheese grater thing is for making quick work of body filler you need to take off.

You might need a set of hammers and dollies. Pretty much if you have a portion of metal with a dent and you need to bang it out this is where these come into play. You work your way from the outside of the dent in. You use the hammer on one side while holding the dolly on the other, striking the metal in the middle to help flatten it out. Don't worry if you can't get it totally straight it's pretty hard to do. Just get it as close as you can.

Next comes some scrappers, for the body filler and maybe something to put the filler on. Once you mix the bondo or what ever kind of filler on a board or what ever you mix it on you will use the scrapper to fill in where you want to fill in. They are like putty knives but made of plastic so it doesnt harm any body work that is going on, they can be found usually right next to the body filler.

A big box of rags, and some tack cloth along with some kind of cleaner is also needed. Your work piece needs to be clean, I mean like so clean a germ-a-phobe would have no problem eating off of it. Soap and water works well, then maybe something about stronger many companies make a de-greaser that works well which takes off wax and a bunch of other crap that will harm your paint from sticking to what ever you are panting. Tack cloth is a thin sheet of material covered in bees wax, it works well with picking up very fine traces of any dust, make sure you barely touch what ever you're working with. too much contact and you'll be smearing the bees wax on your piece. That's just as bad if not worse then what was on before!

Paper and tape, huge must have, you don't need to spray your paint all over your windows, nor do you need to take them out, tape them off and that will do wonders! Now this is important don't skimp out on the tape, ya I know the 3M stuff costs more, but you know what, it will also save you way more! This stuff is awesome and it works very well. Use it to mask off all the areas you don't want to get covered. Try to do the best job you can. Tape stuff off around the outside like chrome lights, windows anything and everything that needs to be un touched. Also tape off holes from the inside if you can. When it is time to wetsand it will help keep the water out of areas water should not be. Use the paper for larger areas so you don't need to waste a whole lot of tape like over the windshield.

Now we get to the fun part, the paint part. There are a bunch of different ways to do this, some may be better for you than others.

Option 1.) Rattle Can
Rattle cans. You'll need a lot to do what ever you looking to do, look at the can and see how hot it is to be when used, also how large of an area a can will cover. Also it will tell you what grit it says to work at. No matter what this guide may say what ever the can says or the bucket says to do trumps my words. It is their product and they know it much better than my general post does. Problem though with painting with rattle cans is that rattle can's do not have a lot of paint in them. In fact they have to "water down" the paint so it's thin enough to go through the nozel.

Option 2.) Spray Gun
Now this is where it's going to get a bit pricey if you don't have some of this stuff. You're going to need a good amount of stuff for a spray gun set up. BUT you will be able to do much better things with this set up than with rattle cans. But as I said above can be VERY pricey.

You'll need something to power it all. Like a decent compressor and something that can match the PSI your gun needs and be able to stay up with it. Take a look around and see what you can find. There are many different options to compressors so see if you can find something near you that works well for you and your wallet.

There has to be a hose that runs from your compressor to your spray gun, so get a good sized one that isn't too stiff. The more flexable the better since you'e going to be moving aroudn with it, and you want it to move how you're going to want it to. No need to run around and have it hit the fresh paint you just laid down. That would straight up suck and you would most likely get the cops called on you for throwing a huge fit! On this hose line you'll need a water trap and also a dryer and a regulator. The regulator is usually installed right under the spray gun, so you can adjust it when ever you need it also usually has a gauge so you know at what pressure it's at currently. The water trap is to keep water out of your lines, out of your paint mix and off of your fresh sprayed paint on your car. It WILL destroy your paint job. So the more dry your lines are the easier this task will be for you.

GUNS well spray guns: Pretty much there are a couple different types. Depends on where you get the sprayer from and where the feed comes from. Pros and cons for each design. Today the standard in the automotive industry is the vertical HVLP gun.

There is the classic bottom feed spray gun. It's what they have been using for like for ever. Still a valid option and who knows maybe you can get one for cheap. They sell them at Lowes or Home Depot kind of stores. With these guns you have to watch for drips for the bucket, one drip from your gun onto a fresh paint job is not good. Also once you get to the point in which there is less than enough paint on the bottom of the bucket they tend to sputter, which sends out an un-even mess of paint.

You than have your standard drop feed or gravity feed spray guns. The bucket that holds the paint is found on the top of the gun. These guns are really nice for getting a lot of paint on the car. Alot of pros prefer these guns because they work so well. Problem is they can be a bit wasteful when it comes to spraying and also produce a bit of overspray.

Then you have the HVLP spray gun (high volume low pressure) this gun is now used everywhere. For two reasons it's more efficent IE less over spray and more paint on what you'r shooting. Also for automotive places it's the law! Since they waste less they pollute less. So thats why they have become the standard.

No matter what you do choose you'll need a couple different size tips for each gun. Different materials call for different tips because some stuff travels easier than others through the guns. Also you will need picks and a small set of tools just to clean your gun. If your gun is not clean and does not shoot well it's most likely dirty inside which will lead to un-even spray patterns. Which will produce more textures, runs and make it that much harder for a nice paint job.

They have different version of each gun to, like a larger one for large area spraying like the whole car, also they have little ones. The little ones are designed for hard to reach spaces such as door jambs. Price wise for a set of guns can be from 50 bucks to over thousands. No matter what before you use your gun it's good to clean them with a good scrub often at the factories they use a bunch of oil or protective stuff inside the gun which may effect the spray of the gun.

You might need more tools too. In the other sections I'll bring up other tools you may need if you have certain things that apply to you. But this has been a general list of the tools needed to paint your car or what ever you're planning on shooting.

II.) Body Work



III.) Welding



IV.) Sanding

You think painting your car is just a lot of spraying what ever paint on the car right? Well, wrong! it's a lot of sanding, and I do mean a lot! There are also two different kinds of sand paper that you will need. WET/DRY and DRY. WET/DRY can be used wet and dry, but you would want to use them wet. They cost a bit more than the just dry stuff.

DRY sand paper is good to use on a more coarse task. You can use it while blocking your body work and sanding your primer into shape. It tends to clog a bit easier compared to WET/DRY sand paper but costs a lot less. It can not be used wet.

WET/DRY sandpaper is awesome. You can work it wet unlike the just DRY kind. The water helps protect what ever your're sanding by cooling it and not letting you burn it with the friction caused by sanding. Also since it's wet it helps the sand paper from cloging up with what ever you are working with. Dry sandpaper clogs up very fast compared to working with wet sand paper. You may want to wear some rubber gloves while using WET/DRY sand paper because you'll be do it a lot. Wearing the gloves will help your hand from drying out. Also if you fold you sand paper in half the other half will be working on your wet/soft hands. It will save your hands to wear the gloves.

There is a whole mess of grits of sand paper. They start from low numbers working their way up. Each grit has a special task. With sanding you will be able to take out defects in the paint also help next layer of what ever you are spraying adhere that much better to what was ever there before. A lot of people will say to start here or don't go so high etc, but play around with it for what ever you prefer.

Do not sand with a bare hand, if you have to never do so with your fingers parallel to your strike. if you do so your fingers will make an uneven grind and you don't want that. Also don't sand along with the lines of the body lines of what ever you're sanding. Try to go at it in a diagonal approach. Try to change up the pattern every now and then to create less waves from doing the same directional diagonal strike. You can go in "X" patterns or even "W" patterns to mix it up. This will be less notice able in the final paint job. Also don't sand on top of ridges or any points, your sandpaper will eat straight through, work up to it. Never it it straight on.

Sanding takes a lot of time, it's also what will make you job stand out. Sanding is a large portion of painting your car too. It needs to be done in a way that you don't skip grits either. If you go from a low grit like an 80 and follow it up with an 800 it's not the same you need to go through each step in the middle for the product to come out right. No short cuts.

Grits and Their Job:

***DISCLAIMER: This is a general rule of thumb, not exact. Also different makers of different sand paper start and have different level of grits so the numbers may not be exact but they will most likely be pretty close.***

36: Very course, good for getting down to the metal and really digging in there. Is too course though for plastic and fiberglass filler. Dry sand paper.

80: Very course, but is good for fiber glass and plastic fillers. A bit more fine than the 36. Is great to bring the car to this before you use any body filler. The body filler will stick to a surface done up to an 80 grit very well. Just sand the areas you will be filling with body filler with the 80 grit paper. Dry sand paper. Also use this to knock down filler to make the area you are repairing straight. 36 grit will be too aggresive and will eat away at your work and leave some gnarly scratch marks.

120: Good between grit to build up to 240 from the 80. you can work this DRY.

240: Pretty course but is a great point to prime on. After you are done smothing everything out with the pads before you will need to sand what ever you are going to prime with up to about a 240 grit paper. This will be some more dry paper. You will need to make sure that the body work looks good. No dips no imperfections or anything like that other than the sanding marks left behind from your 240 grit paper. The primer will only be able to fill in so much.

320: Start at 320 after the primer is done drying. Pick it up from 320 to then work your way up to 600. Can be done DRY.

600: Is right in the middle of the road with being course. It's also a great surface for the actual base coat, IE.) the color that you're shooting. 600 will take out a lot of the scratch marks to leave you with a pretty smooth surface to work with. Don't go past 600 for your basecoat and such because you may run into a problem with your paint sticking to the piece you are working on, it will just flake off if it can't "hold" to yor work piece and that would suck after putting in so much work so far. Needs to be done wet when doing it on top of the base color, if you sand between shoots. Like you shoot so much and need to re shoot again later on for what ever reason. IE you need to take out any runs that might happen to take out orange peel also.

1000: This is where you will start to color sand to get up to the higher grits. Must be done WET.

1500-2500: This is what you will bring the base coat or the clear up to. This will leave very fine lines in your paint/clear. Which you will use a cutting compound to take out with. Which will leave more even smaller lines which you will polish out. This is to be done WET only, it will help protect the paint, save you money with sandpaper.




V.) Primer

Primer is the next step after you do all your body work. This will produce a nice base for your base coat to stick to. You can prime your whole car or even just spot prime if you are going to do the same color. Primer will also help prevent rust. Don't how ever primer what ever it is and just leave it just primered. Primer is more porous. Which means that it can hold water and if it's holding water that's not good! It can make it much easier for your car to rust add un wanted mositure to your paint job later on, which will lead to defects. It's pretty much just not a good idea. There are a bunch of different kinds of primer too with their own job.

Primer doesn't have to be the exact color you are going to paint. It's good to get the color close though. They usaully have a couple different colors, like "Red Oxide," "Grey," and "Black."

Self Etching Primer: This primer has a very strong grip. Is a great primer to start with if you have bare metal exposed that you are painting. It will change the chemicals of rust, and etch it self into the metal. Now this kind of primer you don't sand this is just to get things started if you need that extra bit of grip. Which if you have you metal exposed you do, along with it's abilities to help prevent rust.

High Build Primer: This form of primer has a lot of body to it. This is also oen that you will sand. It will fill in large scratches and does a good job of doing little body work. Don't rely on it though it just makes life easier. You'll need to do a couple good coats to make it lay on pretty thick, then just block sand it down so it is nice and smooth.

Primer Sealer: If you prime the whole car or are re-painting over existing paint and don't want the base coat to bleed into the previous paint/primer you'll need to lay down some primer sealer. Primer sealer helps your base coat from bleeding into everything before it, which will lead to different color and maybe even various different colors which won't look too good in your new paint job. This will be the last bit of primer you use on your car before you use your base coat, also this layer of primer will not be sanded. This is just to help the base coat, not for any scratch filling etc.

VI.) Basecoat

There are tons of different types of paints to sue with your car. Also there are things you need to know about your paints, and only the place you are buying them from or who ever makes them will be able to tell you. When you spray the base coat on a car you usually don't use straight paint what ever kind it is. Also sometimes you add additives to the paint to help you out.

Reducer- Reducer is also known as thinner etc. Pretty much this is added to the paint to help it spray. It will help "thin" out the paint so you spray gun can shoot it better. The paint shop or where ever you get your paint should give you a mixing chart of how much goes into what. Sometimes it will call for a 3:1 paint to reducer mix. That just means 3 parts paint to 1 part reducer. IE you need a gallon of spray able paint, it would be 3 quarts paint and 1 quart reducer. When you get your paint you will also need to get the thinner/reducer that works with the paint you are using. There are different types of paint so there are different types of reducers too! Make sure you have goes with one another. This is a huge thing what ever it says to mix, do it properly if you don't it can have drastic effects on your paint job. IE weird textures you don't want and it may not even stick that well!

Additives- There are a bunch of other things you can use to help your paint job go very smooth. IE fisheye eliminator and even hardner. etc I'm sure there are a many other things too but you'll have to check out what you can get your hands on to. Fisheye eliminator helps to take away the fisheye texture which will be talked about later on. Hardner will help the cure rate of your paint so instead of it drying for the next 48 hours it can be done in the next 24 hours! It will also cut your re-coat time down too so take heed! Some companies do not want you to use certain products with their products so also ask if this is ok to use with with ever you have bought so far. Check out what else you are able to find and red up on it!

For paint there is a bunch of different kinds as I stated above so I figured I'd give you a run down of what's what.

--Acrylic Laquer This is pretty much what they used to use. It's harder to get it's not as durable and is used manly for old school resto jobs and cars that are "garage queens." It does have a great shine to it when done up right but most likely not an option for your car unless you really really want to go this route. It is easier to spray and have come out with an awesome looking finish though.

--Acrylic Enamel This is more of an option than the acrylic laquer. This is more or less what people are using now a days to paint their car along with acrylic urethane. Acrylic Enamel is pretty affordable it's most likely the cheapest route you can go while still having a very nice out come. Also it holds up well to everyday use. It won't last as long as say the acrylic urethane but will last a decent amount of time.

--Acrylic Urethane



(***Book Mark***)


VII.) Clear



VIII.) Texture and Troubleshooting



IX.) Compond and Polishing agents



X.) Taking Care of Your New Paint Job
Last edited by Lames on Sun Jun 28, 2009 1:02 am, edited 12 times in total.
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby ten2doyle102 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:29 pm

OMG!! :) Maybe I could try to do this one my fenders.... Hmm....

How hard would it be do paint them with rattle cans??? They would be the automotive paint though of course.
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby Lames » Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:06 am

Maybe it might be something you can do, are the fenders pretty straight, no rust and such? If so that will make life that much more easier. :)
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby M20_fever » Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:05 am

Sticky Patrol has been informed we may have a new Sticky in progress.



Confirmed. 8)
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby Lames » Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:06 am

lol, Tony Imma need your help too!
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby ten2doyle102 » Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:05 am

Lames wrote:Maybe it might be something you can do, are the fenders pretty straight, no rust and such? If so that will make life that much more easier. :)



Yeah, they are brand new.. I just want to make sure they come out decent. My problem is that I never know how much to spray and I get runs. :( Is there any technique to that???
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby beemnmatt » Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:01 am

When I refinish furniture, say a dining room table, I spray 50% overlapping coats. Everything looks wet and there is no overspray. This type of spraying dries pretty quick which helps to avoid runs. Is the same technique used when spraying cars? and how long does the paint take to set up(dry to the touch)?
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby Lames » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:20 pm

the over lap changes per what kind of gun you use but pretty much same deal going on. To get it to look decent with out the runs, when it is time to paint hit your piece with a light coat let dry for like a couple mins then go over with a decent spray overlap and try your best to get what ever you can. More thin coats is better than a little thick coats. Let it dry between sprays about 10 mins or so if you're using rattle cans and then re hit it a couple times. Don't do it before by too much or you will have too much wet paint on your piece and you will get even worse orange peel when it starts to dry.

There are a ton of different kinds of paint from the older stuff to the newer paints so dry time to the touch and to the sanding point tends to vary a bit from type to type. I'm going to try to find some solid number to include into the write up. Post all questions so we can have this thing hit everything and anything that someone just starting out will need to know or wants to know.
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby Yoshi » Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:07 pm

wow you really know your stuff. Lets see you paint your car and add pix :)
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby Lames » Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:26 pm

lol sadly I know how to talk the talk, but I can't walk the walk yet. :'( At least yet!

With work slow, I have lot's of time but no money. lol So I spend a lot of time reading and then some more time reading some more. I won't add it up there unless I have heard it maybe a couple times. Worked in with me and my got to be right mind set with this bumper I've been painting.

So far what I have come into is that rattle cans are nice but should be used as a last resort. They don't hold a lot of paint in them it's more or less a great way to spray a bit of paint. At about 6 bucks a pop it can add up pretty quick. Also I hear the clear at times can have a yellow tinge to it. So watch out you alpine weiss guys!

I can't wait to use my spray guns! It's going to be soooo much more nice and easier!

More or less I'm making this thread as a note book as I read up more and can easily reference back to. You guys get to read the notes too. :)
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby Lames » Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:50 am

maybe this will need to be over a couple threads?
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby beemnmatt » Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:19 am

I asked a shop today 'how much to paint my car' you just a ball park.......


3700 was he kidding? I think he just didnt want to do it. I want to paint it black, so that means you have to do a close to perfect prep job... but 3700? Looks like I will be doing this in my garage...
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby M20_fever » Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:40 pm

I'm doing black base/clear in the garage, which is far from ideal, but with enough work I should get "near perfect" results.

James, why over several threads?
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby LEAN_E30 » Tue May 04, 2010 11:59 pm

Black is actually very forgiving, as well as white. Silver, now that, (or anything with an aluminum flake to it) THAT is a bitch. that's when you've got to be damn near PERFECT in your prep work.

Ask me how i know... or better yet ask me how many times I repainted this cause i was being a noob without good direction:

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Freshly cleared, needed cutting and polishing once cleared in that picture. Fuckin Busa.
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Re: How To: Automotive Painting

Postby Lames » Wed May 05, 2010 12:13 am

Very nice!

Ya me and my painting will be put off most likely another year. <.< I got's some stuff to get done first.
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