How to Paint and Clear Coat your Car : Exterior Car Care

January 25, 2023,

If you have ever painted a vehicle before, you will have no problem with this project.

If this is your first paint job, just makes sure your read all of the instructions on your varnishes and take your time; you will do just fine.

Before you begin this job, make sure that you are familiar with the airbrush equipment; there is a lot of preparation work to be done first, but when it comes time to apply the paint you do want to make sure you are comfortable with the equipment and its operation.

Difficulty Level: Difficult

Make sure to read all the directions on the products you buy for this project. Make sure they are exactly what you need.

Things you'll need for this project:

Airbrush equipment
Air compressor
Masking tape
Old newspapers
Hand and electrical sander with fine, medium, and coarse sand papers; if the old paint on the car is in moderate condition, a 360 grit sandpaper will work fine
Putty knife
Base coat color paint
Bucket of clean water
Clear coat paint
Electric buffer
Buffing compound

Step 1:

Set up for your preparations somewhere outside. You will need to have a lot of maneuverability around the car to reach those hard-to-reach places; also, make sure you are in a place that can be easily cleaned, as you will be leaving a mess behind.

Begin by stripping the car of the old paint. Use a small putty knife to chip off large strips; brand new straight razor blades can also be used to pry difficult spots off the body.

Be careful not to gouge into the metal of the vehicle, as any and all dents and dings will be blatantly obvious when you are finished painting; by then it will be too late to fix them. Strip away as much as you can with the putty knife and razor blade; you should see bare metal when you are finished.

Once you have all of the large areas scraped clean, follow up with the sandpaper. Test your assortment to find out which is the most effective; the best sandpaper for any given area will change depending on where on the car you are working at.

When you are finished the surface should all be bare metal.

Step 2:

Move the car indoors; somewhere that there is still enough room to maneuver around the car as you work, and somewhere clean enough that there will not be any flying dust or debris in the air, because any and everything sticks to wet paint; with that said, also make sure that you have proper ventilation while you work.

Wearing a breathing apparatus and proper filtration masks must be used to ensure your safety while painting. Make sure that any other exposed surfaces in the area are covered with drop cloths to prevent them from becoming coated with over spray.

Step 3:

Using the masking tape and newspapers, completely cover all windows, outside mirrors, headlights, tail lights, and turn signal covers that you don't want to paint. Using the tape, cover any and all chrome or aluminum trimmings that you don't want painted. The only thing left exposed should be the bare metal that you want to paint.

Step 4:

Mix your primer into your airbrush gun following the manufacturer’s instructions. When ready, begin working in sections about a foot long, covering all of the exposed metal in even, steady strokes. Consult your manufacturer’s directions as to how long the primer needs to be left undisturbed to dry. Clean out your painting equipment thoroughly and allow it to dry while you are waiting for the primer.

Step 5:

Mix your base paint into your airbrush gun following the manufacturer’s instructions. When ready, as with the primer coat, begin working in sections about a foot long. Holding the gun about 6”-10” away from the body, begin applying the paint in even, steady strokes.

Make sure that your passes overlap to avoid seaming; you should come about halfway back and pass over a previous area before moving forward. Think, “Two steps back, one step forward” as you work.

Again, refer to the paint manufacturer’s directions in regards to drying time. As before, clean out your airbrush equipment thoroughly and allow it to dry before moving onto the next step.

Step 6:

Dipping your sandpaper in the clear water, begin to wet-sand the color coat until it is smooth. Usually the finest grade sand paper you can find will work best. Keep it sopping wet throughout this process to get the best result. Let the car dry completely before moving on.

Step 7:

Mix the clear coat varnish and load into your airbrush gun according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Using the same application method as before, completely cover the base coat surface with a coat of the clear varnish. Allow to dry completely, referring to the paint manufacturer’s instructions as to time. Once again completely clean your airbrush equipment and let dry completely.

Step 8:

Using your buffer and buffing compound, polish the clear coat until it shines like it’s ready for a showroom floor.

Stand back and admire your job well done!

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