By: Paul Kearney
To be completely honest, even the hardest working do-it-yourself-er cannot do a perfect paint job. But don’t feel bad about it, because there are even some specialty workshops that cannot do that. The great thing though, if you would see it, is that you do not have to get a paint job as perfect as the one a factory or one of those car shows on TV would. Just a few gallons of paint, and a lot of hard work, can get a car so close to perfection that no one would be able to tell the difference if you were cruising by. In fact, you can get it so close that even on close scrutiny, as long as the lighting conditions were not perfect, say on a cloudy day or late in the afternoon, most people could not tell the difference.
The secret of an excellent homemade paint job is in the quality and time you take to get the car and the painting environment ready. For one, you will need a shed or a garage of some sort that you can empty out completely and get it so clean that you could have an operation in there and not worry about infection. Next you need to get the car ready and here are the tools you will need to do that.
There is just one thing that ruins an existing paint job to the point where you will need to repaint the car, and that is rust. If your car is completely rust free and the paint is just faded you may want to consider simply giving the car a good polish. However, if you are dealing with rust you need to make sure that you can get rid of it all before moving on to a paint job or else you will see that rust coming back in less than 6 months; and that is if you are lucky. So you will need to use a rotary tool or a drill equipped with a wire brush and just clean up as much of the rust as you can. After that you will need to use some chemical cocktail that you can get at your local paint store, to eradicate that rust. Next you will want to use some filler to smooth out the rusted area, and then you will need to move on to the next tool.
If you want to get a near perfect paint job, you will end up spending so much time with an oscillating tool in your hand that you will grow to feel naked without one. First, you will need to use the oscillating tool or the orbital sander to clean away the excess filler that you have used on the previous stage. Next you will need to use it to give the entire car a good key and you can do that by using 800 grit wet and dry sand paper. After that you will want to paint some sort of primer on the entire car, and give that a good once over with your sander tool of choice. And then, depending on how good you want to get your car to look, you will cover the car with anywhere between 2 and 5 coats of paint. After each layer, you will want to let it dry, sand it down, and add the next layer, and then sand it down, a new layer of paint, sander, and so on. Eventually, you may even want to put on a layer of clear coat, but, if you have done your job right with all that sanding, and seeing how clear coat has its own extra challenges, you may want to skip over that. And that leads us to the other important tool you have been using so far.
If you are to have any chance of actually coming close to a flawless paint job, you will need a good quality paint gun, and, since those only work with air compressors, you will need to get one of those too. You cannot really count on one of those electric spray guns because they do not have the ability to spray a thin enough layer of paint – perhaps this is where we should tell you that the paint needs to come out more like a mist than an actual layer of paint. Also, if you are planning to use paint from a spray can, you might as well just forget about every other step in the preparation process and just go for it because the end result will only be good enough for the scrap yard.