Tips For Doing Your Car's New Paint Job Yourself
If you're restoring a car, one of the biggest hurdles to finishing the project is going to be getting the body prepared for paint and finishing the paint job. When you decide to do the work yourself, you might be surprised to find out how easy it really is. With a little bit of preparation and effort, you can create that crisp, flawless finish you've been envisioning. Here are some tips to help you get the job done.
Start By Clearing Rust Away
Particularly when you're dealing with older cars, rust can be a common problem. With persistent exposure to things like snow, salt and other hazards, it's no surprise. Unfortunately, rust is also damaging to your existing paint job and will interfere with adhesion for a new paint job. When you leave rust on the metal surface, it will cause that new paint to flake and bubble.
Getting rid of surface rust is easy. Just sand the rust spots lightly to clear them out completely. Then, you can coat the entire surface in a rust inhibitor to keep it from coming back. You can opt for spray applications or even a gel coating. Rust inhibitor contains phosphoric acid, which changes the rust to iron phosphate. This prevents the spread or continued growth to help preserve the integrity of your new paint.
Any rust that's set in needs a bit more effort to get rid of. When it's below the surface level of the metal, you can either cut the offending section out and weld a new one in or replace the entire body panel. If you weld a new section in, grind the welds down until they're smooth with the surface.
Smooth The Body Panels Out
Over time, body panels are vulnerable to dings, dents and other surface flaws. Before you paint the car, you'll want to smooth these out. If you don't, every flaw will show in the reflected light from the new paint job. An uneven finish isn't going to give you the look you're after.
Get rid of all of the old paint by sanding or grinding it away. Then, you can fill in the surface flaws with a soft, pliable body filler. You'll have to mix the filler right before you apply it, so make sure you follow the instructions on the product that you choose.
After you apply the filler, let it dry. That way, you can sand the whole thing smooth. This is an important part of the process, because the sanding not only smooths it all out, but it also roughs up the surface panels to help the primer and paint adhere. Use a block sander to do this so that you don't get uneven pressure from your fingers or your palm.
When you check the surface to be sure it's smooth, don't do it by eye. It's too easy to overlook small flaws. Run your hand over the surface to be sure that everything is even. If it is, then it's time to clear away all of the dust generated by the sanding process. Wipe it all down with a tack cloth so that you get rid of the dust without introducing any water.
Prime The Panels
Once everything is prepped, it's time to create the surface for the paint. A quality auto primer is the best way to do this. Take your time to spray the primer in an even, thin layer. The primer will cover the body panels and produce a solid foundation of consistent color for the auto paint. Apply one even coat, then let it dry according to the product manufacturer's recommendations. If there are any uneven spots, apply a second coat.
Once the primer is dried according to the manufacturer's instructions, you can apply the paint of your choice. Finish the paint application with a clear coat to protect that new paint job from sun and weather damage.