Whether you are just interested in re-spraying a small area to cover up some paint chips, or want to treat your car to a custom paint job that will let you enjoy envious stares from every pedestrian you pass, you will need to follow a few basic rules, and have the right tools to hand in order to carry out the work to a high standard.
The first thing to mention about auto paint jobs is that you should always work in a well ventilated area. Paint fumes can include a number of solvents that can leave you feeling light headed and even poison you if you inhale them, so make sure there is free passage of air through your work shop when you are painting. You should also wear a respirator mask during painting or preparation to avoid inhaling any paint and loose dust that you release.
To get the best effects when painting, you also need to make sure that you are able to keep dust to a minimum. You can achieve a good environment by hanging sheets from floor to ceiling in the area where you are working, and wearing overalls. You should also vacuum clean the area where you are painting at the beginning of every session.
When you apply auto body paint, the main thing is to get a good even finish that looks good, and the key to getting a good finish is having a good start. Preparation is everything in paining. Get it right, and you will be able to enjoy a fantastic smooth finish that will last for years and look great, skimp on your preparation, and your finish will look shabby straight away, and then get worse over time.
Before you paint, you need to strip off the old paint job. You can do this with a solvent based paint remover, or do it the hard way by sanding back the panels to bare metal using a sander. Whichever method you choose, you need to make sure that you have a very smooth base. To achieve this, use the finest grade abrasive paper available, and be prepared to put serious time into the job.
Once you are satisfied with your base, you can start applying the primer. Use a HLVP spray gun connected to an air compressor, as this is much more even than an aerosol, and will be much cheaper in the long run. You should use long sweeping strokes in a single direction to get a good base to paint onto. After every coat, allow the paint to dry, and then sand it back to a smooth surface. Then apply the next coat in strokes that go at 90 degrees to the previous layer, as this will produce an even color.
There are two types of auto paint that you can use on a car, cellulose based and Two Pack auto paint. Most painters now use Two Pack because it gives a better finish, and metallic colors are available, whereas cellulose paint can be tricky to deal with, and is best used on classic cars where you are trying to recapture an older style.
As with the primer, you should apply the auto paint in coats, spraying in a single direction, then sanding back to a fine surface to remove any imperfections, before applying the next layer at right angles to the previous one.
In between coats, it is imperative to clean the nozzles on your HVLP spray gun, as otherwise, small flakes of dried paint can be caught up in the spray and cause imperfections that will spoil the final effect.
Once you are satisfied that you have got a good covering and applied enough coats of auto body paint to create an excellent finish, apply one more coat for best effects, allow it to dry, and then sand back for a smooth finish. You should leave the paint to dry completely for 24 hours and then apply a wax polish to the whole body in order to protect your new paint job and give it a shine that will certainly catch the attention of anyone you pass on the road.