Painting your car doesn't have to be a horrible experience. It is a relatively easy task to get the same results as the professionals without paying the professional prices. All you need is a free weekend, a few simple items, and a steady hand. Follow these simple steps, and you'll have a car with a showroom quality paint job.
Materials and Tools:
- Masking or painter's tape
- 4—Plastic tarps
- Lots of old newspapers
- Wax or grease remover
- Car Washing Detergent
- Clean soft sponge
- Clean soft rags/cloths
- Sandpaper (Thick and fine grits)
- Paint Sprayer (can be purchased or rented)
- Urethane based automotive paint (color of choice)
- Clear Coat
- Putty knife
- Automotive body filler (i.e. Bondo)
- Dust mask
- Prepare. If at all possible, use a garage since the area inside can be protected from the wind while maintaining a decent airflow. Lay out your four plastic tarps. Place one on the ground and the other three on the three interior walls leaving the garage door up. This ensures that you do not accidentally paint something that is not meant to be painted.
- Wash. Thoroughly wash and dry every inch of your car's exterior using the sponge, car wash detergent, and wax/grease remover. You don't want any harsh abrasive left on the car, nor do you want something painted that is going to eventually flake off.
- Sanding. Using the sandpaper, sand any area that looks rough or damaged. You want to use the rough grit paper for the tough jobs, and the finer grit for the easier locations. The preferred method is to totally remove all of the paint, taking it down to the primer, but that can be extremely time consuming and strenuous. To make the job easier, use an electric sander. During this process, if you notice any dings or dents, repair them.
- Prepping. This process can create a bit of static electricity so you want to make sure that you have properly grounded the car. Run a wire from your car frame to a nearby object that is grounded. Cover anything on the car that you don't want painted with the newspaper and masking tape. This includes windows, bumpers, mirrors, chrome, tires, and so on.
- Prime. Make sure you are wearing your goggles, dust mask, and coveralls. This is to protect your lungs, eyes, and clothes from the primer/paint. If possible use a paint sprayer to apply the primer, or use spray can primer to evenly coat every inch of the exposed chassis. Allow the initial coat to completely dry. This should take 10 to 15 minutes. Sand the car lightly to ensure an even distribution of the primer.
- Paint. Use the paint sprayer to paint a nice smooth layer of base paint and allow it to dry completely, about 15 minutes. Repeat this step until you are satisfied with the results. If you are going for the show-car look, you are going to want to use 20 coats. Once you are satisfied, let the paint dry for a minimum of 90 to 120 minutes before applying your clear coat.
- Clear coat. Clear coat is what really allows your car to shine. This "paint" also protects the real paint from the harsh environment that it is forced to operate in. Apply the same way you applied the paint. It should take no more than three coats, with about 15 minutes separating each coat for drying. Allow your car to sit for up to 120 minutes so it can dry completely.