how to paint a car

How To Paint A Car – Handy Preparation Tips

As a bit of a follow-up to our Car Respray articles I have a couple tips that I think you will find helpful during the preparation process. Nothing ground-breaking, just a couple of things that I found made the job easier.

If you have paid a visit to any of the Super Cheap stores lately you may have noticed that they are now stocking the 3M brand of body repair and paint products. I was in need of some more body filler the other day and without even thinking I went straight to Super Cheap. The last lot that I got from there was Septone brand and I found it difficult to apply smoothly and it clogged up the sand paper something shocking, even after removing the ‘slimy’ film that settles on top of all fillers. Thankfully there was this 3M gear to try.

how to paint a car

Without deliberately trying to sound like an advertisement for 3M, I seriously think this stuff is great! I found it easy to mix, I was able to lay it on as smooth as a baby’s you know what (using the same tool and technique that I have used previously) and there was no hint of sand paper clogging even after sanding three separate repairs with the one piece of sandpaper. From memory the price was about the same as the Septone product also.

The next tip I got from the Spray Painting Secrets DVD Course (an excellent course by the way if you are thinking of tackling any body repairs or spray painting). Before sanding body filler I used to scrape the first mm or so off with a razor blade to lessen the sand paper clogging, not a bad idea as long as you are super careful. What I know now is that you can achieve the same result with a rag soaked in thinners, just wait until your filler is completely set and give it a good going over. Tonight I tried this out and it works a treat, no more slimy film to clog up the sandpaper (as you can see I am just using a general purpose thinner).

how to paint a car

The next tip I have involves removing door trims. So many times I have seen people simply grab at one corner of the trim and pull until all of the clips are out, and usually they are out of the door trim and not the door!

A better way is to grab a thin metal scraper and slide it in between the door frame and trim. Move it along until you come to a trim clip and then turn the scraper sideways to pop the clip out of the door frame. When the first one is out you can then simply move along to the next one etc etc. Doing it this way will ensure that the clip doesn’t just get pulled out of the trim and you’re not left with a buggered trim and no way of securing it back on.

how to remove a door trim

The final tip I have for you is, as all the professionals know, a DA (dual action) sander is the only way to sand a car! I’ve had two broken dual action sanders lying around here for years and a couple of days ago I managed to make a working one out of the two. Previously I had hand sanded panels (with a block) or used the long block that I use for shaping filler. Never again!

dual action sander

The pad on a dual action sander rotates as well as oscillates and because of this the sand paper does it’s job quickly and without leaving sanding scratches all over your surface. Just to give you an example, I needed to lightly sand the boot lid of a VH Commodore, the surface was in very good condition and all I wanted to do was ‘scuff’ it up so the primer had a good base. Using a 320 grit I was able to completely sand the outer of the boot lid in less than 10 minutes. Try doing that by hand and not leaving any sanding marks!

The beauty of it is that you can use a finer grade of paper than you would need to use sanding it by hand and as a result you don’t have to go back over the panel and sand out any scratches that you put in it on the first go. Also, I was able to do the boot lid with one piece of sand paper, it doesn’t seem to clog up nearly as much as when using other methods.

The only draw-back to a da sander? They take a lot of compressed air to run. Our 13.5cfm compressor struggled a bit to keep up with the electric motor running ninety-percent of the time while I was sanding the boot lid. Newer versions of the sander might take less air to run, I don’t know. An air storage tank might be on the cards or I might look into an electric-powered da, if there is such a thing.

4 thoughts on “How To Paint A Car – Handy Preparation Tips

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