Auto Paint

A step-by-step guide to the basics of a good auto paint job.

There are a couple of keys to doing a good auto paint job. Selection of materials is important, as is knowing what you are actually doing when you start to apply sandpaper and chemicals to your car! It can sometimes be a daunting thing, but if you have an understanding of the process works, it really isn't that difficult. The golden rule is: know what you are doing before you start!

First, sort out your working environment. It is best to have warm and dry conditions if you want the paint to dry quicker. Good ventilation is essential, too. With auto paint, and all spray painting, there is some danger of fumes, so be careful. It also goes without saying that you should wear clothes you don't mind getting messy. Goggles and a mask are essential too.

Next, prepare the area. Remove all existing paint, using aluminium oxide paper, so you will be putting the paint directly onto the metal surface, rather than overlaying existing layers of paint. It is important, too, that you remove any dirt or wax that may have built up- use cellulose thinners. If you live in a humid region, it can be a good idea to apply a rust treatment product at this point. If you do this, let it dry completely before moving on to apply your primer.

The last step before you begin to paint is to block off any areas that you are not painting, using paper and masking tape. A good tip on masking is that to make a new painted area blend into an old one, move the masking back with each layer of paint you spray on.

Now you can begin! Hold your can of primer about 25cm away from the surface, and apply several light coats, leaving 15-minute intervals between each one. To ensure an even coating, move the can smoothly back and forth over the metal. It helps to go about an inch over the original layer of paint, or peel back the masking tape slightly, to soften the join.

Next, leave it at least 24 hours. Then you need to rub the surface down with wet and dry paper until the finish is smooth. Then clean with warm, soaped water, rinse and dry.

Now comes the actual auto paint job! Shake your can for about two minutes to mix the paint, and then slowly apply a number of coats, leaving 15-minute intervals, and re-shaking the can each time.

If your paint is metallic, leave the paintwork 24 hours and then rub it down till it loses its initial gloss. Then clean, rinse and dry as you did after the first rub-down.

The final stage is two coats of lacquer, with 15-minute breaks between each coat. Then review the finish- if it's patchy, apply another coat or wait for the lacquer to dry, rub down and re-do the lacquer.

And there you have it! Follow this simple process and your auto paint job won't go far wrong.

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