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norcalfocus01 01-31-2009 03:59 PM

The Complete "How to Paint" Thread
*I will be updating this, as I plan on it taking awhile to complete. If you have pictures of a certain painting process that I do not have please PM me the link and I will post it. I hope to have up soon painted plastic interior pannels, headliner.* [thumb]

So for those of you that don’t know, I have worked in the paint industry for the last eight years. I am by no means a expert on all painting topics but I do have more experience than a lot of other members and wanted to share some knowledge. I wanted to write a general “how to paint thread“ but this will go into some depth. I will cover as much as I can in this first post, but by all means I would love to keep this a evolving thread were we can discuss any painting questions. Please feel free to ask any questions or if you think I have something wrong please let me know so I can fix it. Also do not be afraid to shoot me a PM.

1) Paint & Primer Types:
  • Plastic Paints
  • Exterior Body Paint (single stage and two stage)
  • Engine Enamels
  • Brake Caliper Paint
  • Sound Deading Rubber Paint
  • Fabric Paint
  • Vinyl Paint
  • Rusty Metal Primer
  • Clean Metal Primer
  • Filler Primer
  • Adhesion Promoter
  • Clear Coats
  • Metal Etching Primer

2) Cleaner & Solvents:
  • Alcohol
  • Lacquer Thinner
  • Acetone
  • Degreasers
  • Wax Removers
  • Lightly Soapy Water

3) Prep Products:
  • Sandpaper
  • Steel Wool
  • Sponge
  • Body Shaping Tool
  • DA Sanders
  • Orbital Sanders
  • Palm Sanders
  • Dermal Tool

4) Fillers:

  • Regular Bondo
  • Fiberglass Reinforced Bondo (kitty hair)
  • Glazing Putty (a ready to use bondo like product, usually for final filler coats)

5) Misc. Products:
  • Rubbing Compound
  • Rags
  • Paint Polish
  • Drop Cloths
  • Fans

6) Saftey Materials:
  • Saftey Glasses
  • Gloves
  • Dust Mask
  • Paint Respirator
  • Shoe Covers
  • Long Sleeves and Pants

General Prepping for all Surfaces:

Before any sanding you always want to clean before. This is because if there is any contentment’s of the surface sanding will only force the contentment into the surface you will paint. For metal and exterior painted surfaces I like to use acetone for a good cleaner, lacquer thinner also works well, but the acetone will dry off faster. Using acetone and lacquer thinner on plastic is not recommended, most of the time it will eat away at the plastic. I found the best cleaner for plastic is lightly soapy water, do not use too much soap or it will leave a residue on the surface that will affect adhesion.
Sanding for most of the things we do can be done with no heavier than 150 grit paper. Most plastic projects will take the use of 400 grit and higher, while metal 220 is a good start. I also prefer the use of wet sanding on most of my painting projects. Dry sanding is usually is only used when removal of paint or rust is needed. After sanding wiping the surface done with a damp cloth is a very good idea. Again plastic use water and metal use acetone (water on bare metal is not a good idea most of the time). I also use the water hose to rinse my cleaning solutions and sanding dust a lot of times when doing plastic. I would use these same sanding procedures between coats.

General Masking & Protection Information

Masking and proteting area that you do not want painted is very important. Even with spray cans the overspray can carry a few hundred feet in the wind. When painting outside make sure you note the the wind speed and direction before spray the paint. The last thing you want is your neighbor telling you you need to pay for a buff job on their car. Painting indoors it is still very important to cover anything you do not want paint on, as the overspary will settle onto thing across the room.
When applying masking tape make sure your hands are clean. I've seen where someone with greasy fingers lays down tape and it doesn't stick right due to the grease transferd onto the tape. There are several types of masking tape...
  • The white or plain masking tape is usally the stickiest and works well with all types of paint. However if left on more than a few hours it can leave glue behind when you remove it.
  • There are two differant types of 3M blue tape, 2090 and 2080. The 2090 is the original blue tape and has the same paper as the white but with less tack, for cleaner removal. 2080 is for freshly painted areas. It has an even lower tack and a thinner paper for cleaner lines. To tell the differance 2090 has a blue cardboard center while 2080 has a orange center.
  • The one that I recomend for the painting that most of us do is the 3M 233+ green automotive tape. It has great tack, you can leave it on for a few days, and the edge of the tape is very low, which gives a lower paint line.

Finally I'd like to note when to remove masking tape. If you remove the tape at the wrong time the paint can pull with the tape and not leave a clean line. It works best if you remove the tape while the paint is still wet or completly dry. If you've done multiple coats its best to wait for the paint to dry. Also you do not want to just rip the tape off, you want to pull it slowly at a 90* angle.

General Priming Information:

Primers have two purposes, one to create and promote adhesion, two to seal for surface, to prepare the substrate for the top coat. Plastics can be prepared with adhesion promoter and then top coated with matching body paint, or if the color does not need to match anything there are an array of plastic paints available. Metal, if clean and free of rust, can be primed with a bare metal or clean metal primer. If rust is present, after removing 95% of it, should be primed with a rusty metal primer or rust stopper.

General Paint Information:

Make sure that the paint and primer you use are compatible. Some top coats have stronger or hotter solvents that will wrinkle a non compatible primer. Also make sure to follow recoat times! I have had projects go completely wrong due to recoating to soon.
When spraying use light multiple coats, in a constant sweeping motion. Hold the can at a constant distance for the substrate. If a lot of spraying is needed the use a of spray gun is a great idea or using a trigger handle for sprays cans can save your fingers.
Make sure you use the correct paint for the exposure it will receive, i.e. don’t use plastic paint on a valve cover.
I recommend this very highly, do not use the matched paint for you body color that you get at the auto parts store. Nine times out of ten it will not match well. I strongly suggest buying custom filled spray cans from an automotive paint supplier. There is one locally almost everywhere.
Lastly there is a differance between dry time and cure time. Dry time refers to when you can touch or the paint. Cure is how long it takes before the paint is completly harding thru. This is important when re installing peices, because if the paint is not cured it will easily scratch or peel. So take cuation on planning your time out when you will have to re install a piece, or put the item back into use.
Paint and clear coats need to cure fully before polishing and/or waxing. In most cases a few days is good enough. Just keep in mind your application tho, type of paint, number of coats, and weather all play a factor on when your paint will be fully cured.

How To Paint Exterior Body Pannells:
1. First sand area to receive filler down to bare metal.
2. If needed remove dents with a slide hammer or body hammer.
3. Fill holes and minor dents with body filler.
4. Sand the filler smooth and repeat steps 3 and 4 if necessary.
5. Prime filler and surronding areas with clean metal primer. Two or three coats is good, lightly sanding between coats.
6. Paint with matched body paint, two to three coats. Lightly sanding between coats.

7. Clear coat using the same procedure as painting the body color.

8. Use rubbing compound to smooth out any orange peel that the spray cans or spray gun may have left. Let it dry for about a week before appling any wax or buffing.

How to Paint Engine Parts (I had more pictures of this job, but they must of got deleted off PB)
1. Of coarse you will want to use Hi Temp Engine Paint.
2. Clean the metal with a degreaser to remove all oils and etc. Steel wool is helpful for hard stuck on grease in this process. Rinse the cleaned surface with water to remove degreaser and give a final wipe of acetone. This is a cleaned valve cover.

3. Prime surface with engine enamel primer. Multiple coats is a good idea, I believe I did three on my valve cover.
4.For extra flare I decided to have the raised letters on my valve cover a different color. To achieve this I first painted the letters with aluminum paint, let it dry, then used Vaseline to mask off the areas I wished to stay aluminum.
5. After painting the red over the entire valve cover, use a soft cloth to remove the Vaseline covered letters and the red paint over them.

6. Clear coat the entire painted surfaces with hi temp clear. Again three coats.
7. After letting the paint cure for two days, install and enjoy.

How To Paint Mirror Caps, Door Handles and Side Moldings

1. Clean the surface with a light soapy water mixture. If you had use a plastic polish in the past, (like amoral or black magic) use a wax remover first to get all the residue off. Then rinse toughly with water and let dry.

2. Sanding on this plastic is optional but I recomend it. Sand with 180 grit paper to remove the texture from the palstic. YOu dont need to get it perfectly smooth at this point. Below is what the plastic should look like after sanding.

3. After sanding rinse the surface with clean water and let dry. Then prime with a primer made for plastic. (I like to use Rust Oleums Plastic Primer, but you can also use adhesion promoter.) Only one or two thin coats is needed as all your wanting is adhesion.

4. After the plastic primer is dry and ready for recoat, you want to spray the item with two coats of filler primer. Filler primer is made to fill in slight surface imprefection and give a smooth surface. A light sanding with 400 or 600 grit sandpaper can also be done after the filler primer has dryed for a day or so.

5. Now is the time for the base coat and clear. I recomend getting a custom filled spray can with your cars color code from a automotive paint store. Others use paint from online stores. Make sure to follow the paints recoat and dry times.

6. With door handles and mirror caps I really recomend that you let the paint dry for a day or two before installing, jsut to avoid messing up the paint while its still soft. If you can the best thing to do with door handles is pick up an extra set. It took me about 4 days to do all the work on my handles.

The end result is a super clean look, just like a SVT.

Painting And Dealing With Rusty Metal On Your Car.

*The only ture way to get rid of rust is to cut out the pannel and replace it. What I'm covering is the cheaper DIY way to slow down and reduce rusting.

1. First all the loose rust needs to be removed. You can do this with a few differant tools, a wire brush, a wire wheel on a drill, or sandpaper. The tool you will need depends on the amount of rust you need to remove. Again this is to remove the loose rust only, if you have some tight rust on the surface that will be taking care of with the primer.

2. If you have a large amout of rust I recomend using a rust converter first. Like this one. Then using a rust inhibator primer after that. If you have only light surface rust after the wire brush a normal automotive quality primer will work fine.

*Note* The key to rust is putting enough paint on to cover it completly. Think of rust as mountains, you need to flood the mountains with enough paint to cover the highest peak. Once that is done the rust shouldn't be an issue for a long long time.

3. After the rust removal or repair is done move on to normal body reapir and painting.

zx360 01-31-2009 05:16 PM

good write up, helpful info! good work, i see this getting put in the how to asap!

boarder 01-31-2009 09:42 PM

You should do a write up on brake calipers and whatnot! Expecially older break calipers! ya know...

norcalfocus01 01-31-2009 10:07 PM


Originally Posted by boarder (Post 2561192)
You should do a write up on brake calipers and whatnot! Expecially older break calipers! ya know...

will do as soon as i get wheels. unless someone else has pics they want to share than i'll post that.

NAD23ZX3 02-08-2009 08:03 PM

Valve cover looks really sharp, very 50's- but not garish. Almost makes me want an spi.

norcalfocus01 01-09-2010 09:40 PM

I really need to finish this how to up LOL

theheat 01-09-2010 10:04 PM

alot of good information in here... mabye add what an etching primer does... and mabye some brands or something.....

norcalfocus01 01-09-2010 10:11 PM

Thanks, I fixed the gramer errors. I dont really want to promot brands, because there is only one brand I use [:D] Rust Oleum.

I'll glady describe what etching primer does as well.

theheat 01-09-2010 10:17 PM

no prob... yeah, i figured that alot is rustoleum, im thinking of painting my new to me auto x wheels eventually..... and noticed etching primer somewhere.....

kjsoccerdude 04-08-2010 12:10 PM

Do you have a how to on painting door handles? I thought I remembered seeing one by you a while back.

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