How to Prepare a Car for Paint: What You Need & 7 Easy-to-follow Steps

Renewing the beloved car is a task that everyone wants to perform at the end of the year. When its “jacket” is worn out or when it starts to look boring, you think about restoring or changing its color.

The color of the car point out many things, including the interests and personalities of its owner. Scratches not only give your car a bad appearance but also allow dust to cling on, as well as rain to soak and oxidize. In worse cases, your car will be corroded and the rust will spread out.

Painting a car requires strict preparation

Changing the coat of your car means to recover the scratched paint. It is not complicated but time-consuming. Whether you decide to repaint the entire car with the old color, apply a completely new paint color, or just restore some of the deep scratches, the process is the same.

Although the skills and experience of technical painters are fundamental, you should be aware that the preparation step is the determining factor to improve the beautiful gloss of the new coat. Therefore, the painting process before applying primer should be strictly controlled.

Now, with the development of professional services, you only have to spend a few hundred dollars to “buy” a new high-qualified coat for your car. However, do not give your car to painters without any attention unless you want to get back a “disaster” with the scraggly loose paint. Let’s read these tips and require the workers to notice all of them.

Performance in a Suitable Room

The car painting roomFirstly, before mentioning painting tools, it is essential to take note about the place you intend to renew your car. It should be a room with enough ventilation, good lighting, minimal dust, electricity, and large space for painters to move around the vehicle.

Keep in mind, you have to turn off all furnaces and water heater in the room to prevent the paint fumes during performing as well as detrimental effects on the workers’ health.

Prepping Necessary Tools

Good preparation perfects your performanceAfter finding a well-equipped room, painting materials should be considered. We will introduce some must-have tools as follows:

  • Air compressor and paint gun should be chosen based on the concentration of paint. Moreover, a gravity feed spray gun is more economical.
  • Power sander and sanding pads are used to remove all of the remaining paint and rust on the vehicle body.
  • Hand sandpaper and sand blocks are vital tools for prep work. So, please refer to the next part “How to choose proper sandpaper and sand blocks”.
  • Single-edged razor blades are employed to pull out stubborn stains.
  • Cleaning solvents are beneficial in removing residual oil and dirt on the surface of the vehicle.
  • Masking paper and tape are stuck into windows and other areas you do not want to apply primer or paint on.
  • Primer is a kind of paint used to protect metal. Besides, it serves as an adhesive substance to stick the exterior color.
  • Putty is a filler substance. Painters use an applicator to fill it in any pits, dents, or imperfections on the metal surface, ensuring the consistent shape of the vehicle body.
  • Mask and protective clothes are to keep the paint fumes and contaminants from entering your lungs, skin, and eyes.
  • Soft materials and sponges are utilized to clean the car before painting thoroughly.

When you have all of the above tools, it’s time to start the paint prepping process.

How to Choose a Proper Sandpaper and Sand Blocks

Prior to replacing the car coat, the old paint or rough scratches on the surface should be removed. To do this well, important tools are sandpaper and sand blocks. Here are some tips to help you choose the right method for sanding:

Choose Sandpaper with a Suitable Grit

Choose sandpaper with a suitable gritYou always make sure to use the correct grit of the sandpaper when sanding the car. It must be abrasive enough to quickly remove old paint and other materials on the surface of the vehicle but do not damage the object.If you want to take off all paints and primers, the tool with 80 grit is preferable. The lower roughness may scratch your car. Then you should use the 150 -300 grit sandpaper. Or you should purchase the paper with 800 – 1000 grit to completely remove scratches.

Sand Blocks

Sand blocks are as essential as sandpaperA sanding block is one of the most necessary materials during repainting a vehicle. The excellent tool is about 12 inches in length. The plane of the block is covered with sandpaper.So, how to use a sanding block properly? Hold it with both hands and slowly sand the flat surface of your vehicle. Keep in your mind, sanding is done very slowly. This allows you to take away and control the paint and primer. While you carefully sand, you will know higher or lower points on the surface if any.

Wet Sandpaper

To get the best results when sanding your car, you should employ wet sandpaper. Although you can use the papers with 300-400 grit, the 1,000 – 2,000 grit papers give outstanding work. You should make sure to keep the paper wet throughout the sanding process.

Steps to Preparing the Car for Paint

#1: Clean the Car

Clean the carCleaning the vehicle is the first compulsory task. You need to take away all the debris accumulated on the vehicle during moving. It includes not only dirt and mud but also petrol, fingerprints, beetles, insects, and all the small pieces on the car.Dishwashing liquid can solve these problems well; however, it is better if you use specialized car wash ones. To ensure cleanliness, wash the car twice before going on the next steps. If the soft materials and sponges are less likely to treat the contaminants,  the single-edged razor blade is helpful instead.

#2: Evaluate the Car Shell and Sand the Old Paint and Rust

Evaluate the Car Shell and Sand the Old Paint and RustIn this stage, you can use power sanders to handle the large areas with many scratches. Sand blocks are applied to the smaller points. However, for the corners, sandpaper are the best tools to remove old paint. The more carefully you clean your car, the more greatly primer and mastics adhere to the steel.Also, you can add cleaning solvents on the bare metal during sanding, such as alcohol or denatured alcohol. This ensures that there is no residual oil on the vehicle’s surface.

Distorted areas or a deep dent will be fixed to reform the original flat surface.

#3: Apply Anti-Rust Paint

Apply Anti-Rust PaintAnti-rust paint is a primer used to protect iron and steel surfaces from corrosion and rust by the impact of the surrounding environment.It prevents moisture and dust from damaging the metal. After the paint is dry, you should apply the sandpaper one more time to enhance the adhesion of the putty or coating.

How to apply anti-rust paint properly:

Step 1: Thin anti-rust paint: Paint mixing tools include paint cups, paint sticks, and electronic scales. You need to follow the right proportion given by the supplier.

Step 2: Spray anti-rust: Use a 1.5 mm gun to spray a paint layer on the metal surface. Make sure not to spray on old paint strain and to coat all of the space.

Step 3: Dry anti-rust coat: The process is done with a temperature of about 60 Celsius degrees for 5 minutes or let it dry naturally for 20-30 minutes.

Step 4: Clean the surface: You spray gasoline on the surface and clean with a soft cloth to prepare for the application of putty in the next step.

#4: Plaster Putty to Return the Standard Car Form

Plaster putty to return the standard car form The putty is put on the surface to fill in the scratches and dents and reform the original layout. Then, the painter will flat the surface.The process of applying putty includes:

Step 1: Mix the putty: Before starting, you need to mix putty with hardener substances with the exact ratio specified on the labels.

Step 2: Apply the putty: After well mixing, you should make the putty usually from 3 to 4 layers. The first ones should be thin and you should press it tightly to stick it well. Then, the deeper the dents are, the more putty is applied. It is noted that you do not put the putty on areas without sanding.

Step 3: Check the surface: Specialized rulers are in use to check the filling capacity of putty. If there is no tool, you can touch your hands on it to find out the rough points. To do this well, the sufficient light is very important so you should check under lights or sunlight.

Step 4: Dry the finished layer: Infrared lights are employed to dry for 15 – 20 minutes at a temperature of 60 degrees C.

Step 5: Mask ink: You use a foam sponge to film over ink on the surface of the mat.

Step 6: Slightly sand the putty layer: You should sand toward the exterior with sand blocks or power sanders and make sure not to leave scratches on the surface.

Step 7: Re-check the surface: The imperfect areas should be enhanced and repainted with anti-rust substances if the steel reveals due to over-sanding.

Step 8: Clean the surface in details: You can use an air gun, soft clothes, and spray gasoline to wipe small dust and other pieces on the car.

#5: Paint Primer

paint primer carPrimer is indispensable in process of automotive paint. It allows users to mask the putty layer, increase the intensity of the color, and make the paint more beautiful and perfect.The steps to prime your vehicle are as follow:

Step 1: Cover the areas you do not want to paint using masking tape and masking paper. A useful tip is to turn the lid of the paper upside-down to avoid creating lines after painting. Please cover the whole area and do not use newspaper to shield.

Step 2: Mix the primer: The paint should be thinned in accordance with the instruction on the labels.

Step 3: Spray the primer: Finding a gun with proper air is necessary. Two or three painting turns are enough at 3-5 minutes intervals.

Step 4: Dry the finished primer: Like the putty layer, the primer is dried at a temperature of about 60 degrees C within 15 minutes.

Step 5: Check the surface: You should check the primer under sufficient light to find out faults. If there are any tiny holes, use a knife to squeeze it.

Step 6: Coat ink: The surface is filmed over covered-ink by foam sponges.

Step 7: Buff the surface: A buffer is used to increase the adhesion of the next paint layers. It should be held at a right angle to the working areas. After buffing, if you see the putty, please re-prime.

Step 8: Cleaning and detailed inspection: After all, use an air gun and a soft cloth to blow dust, remaining tiny particles, and leftover oil on the surface of the car which may be attached during priming.

#6: Paint Thinning and Drying Techniques

Thinning automotive paint is also considered as an art that requires extreme meticulousness. The painter must measure to find the standard paint color so that the color painted is as beautiful as the original color in the catalog. Currently, paint thinning is made on specialized computer software. There are mainly two kinds of color liquid including two-component paint and non-gloss paint. With the different paint, we have according ways to thin it. For the two-component paint, it is added gloss oil during thinning.This type is suitable with the white, black, and red vehicle. The other refers to the colorful paint without gloss oil. After painting, the worker will apply extra gloss paint. It is better for the car with emulsion. The painting rooms are well-equipped with high-power dries. After finishing, it is essential to dry timely in accordance with the international painting standard. Thus, the drying process should be carefully monitored.

#7: Spruce Up the Car

In order to shine the old paint and fade the new layer, you should polish the entire surface of the automotive body by specialized machine. By this way, your car has an equal colorful coat.

How to Preserve the Paint Coat on the Car

How to Preserve the Paint Coat on the CarThe owners always want their cars to look like new in every moment. So, we will introduce you some helpful tips to protect the paint.

  • Keep water and sunlight away from your car from a half or a full day after painting (Because the paint layer is not completely dry, the surface is not stable).
  • When the vehicle is not in use, store it in a garage.
  • If you have to leave your car outdoors, please park in a covered area or with shielding facilities or mobile roof.
  • During washing the car, the water source should be clean and free of impurities. Do not use high-pressure hoses close to the paint surface, which may rub off paint. Furthermore, you should use specialized detergents instead of soap or strong ones, as such substances are harmful to your car’s color.
  • Do not park your car under trees without any covers because the waste of birds and other insects can damage paint surfaces.
  • It is advisable to polish cars periodically (at least every year) to maintain the color and quality of the car body.

FAQs

When should owners repaint their cars?

When the top paint layer is damaged by deep scratches or discolored, you should paint the whole car. It is because such marks make the internal metal oxidize in a short time. Therefore, the rust highly spreads which has negative effects on your car body.

Should I paint your car in original colors or change new paint colors?

This depends on the preferences of the vehicle owner. If you only intend to fix scratches or patchy areas, of course, the first suggestion is preferable.

In contrast, if you want to repaint the whole car, you can choose the original color (if you still love the old) or choose a completely new paint (if you want a change).

How do I correctly define the original paint color?

In order to thin the paint in the extremely exact proportion, you have to base on the color code of the manufacturer. Some car brands have attached a code under the car hood or the driver’s glass. On this piece of metal, in addition to some information about the car, you will find the paint color code. In case the code is absent, you spray paint on a panel and compare it with the car before giving the final decision.

How do I evaluate a workshop as a professional place?

Everyone wants to find a good workshop to have their car painted. So, which standards you should consider?

The sophisticated painting centers have all the necessary equipment for car painting. It includes at least paint drying ovens, paint room to avoid dirt during the process and keep the necessary moisture to achieve the best adhesion in all weather conditions. Besides, paint mixing tools, spray guns, and polishing tools are necessary as well.

How many  paint layers are there?

The cars are usually painted with from 4 to 5 layers. The first coat is anti-rusted. The next are a primer, color paint, and gloss paint in the outer layer. In some high-end cars, the metal surface is coated more layers to create depth, special effects, or decorative patterns.

How much time does the paint process take?

The painting time depends on the damages of the car surface. If there are too many scratches, it may take several days. Certainly, you must spend more time painting the whole car than just working on some areas. Whether you repair entirely or partly, the preparation lasts about 12 – 24 hours or more.

Which legal procedures need I do after repainting my car?

If the car is repainted in its original color, there is no procedures required. However, if the vehicle appears in a different color, you should register the change with the authorities before circulating the vehicle.

Conclusion

In short, car paint preparation is one of the most important steps to have a good result. Not only you need to have enough tools, but you also conduct the above steps in order. By this way, the paint layer will “live” for a long time without any blisters.

If you repaint your car by yourself, please read and do as the instruction. Or, if you have the worker do it, you have to require them to take notice of the mentioned basis.