how to prep car for painting

How to Prep Car For Painting [Step by Step]

Before painting any car, the preparation plays an integral part as it decides the quality of the job. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional or a do-it-yourself enthusiast; there are a lot of things required to get your car prepped up.

No stage is unimportant – the prepping process is as important as the painting process. Therefore, to avoid repainting your car, it is essential to give it the perfect prepping before painting it.

Without further ado, let me quickly show you how to prep car for painting.

How to Prep Car For Painting

It is crucial to follow these processes if you want a successful outcome. Remember, if your car is an old car, it may require cutting some areas. The cutting process involves using abrasive compounds to remove thin layers of paint.

1. Strip the surface

preparing car for painting

Before you even consider the color of paint to use, your first decision is to strip the surface. Most times, cars require a certain amount of sanding before the application of the paint. Sanding helps in removing the top layer of the car’s paint.

This process involves using abrasive materials and worth every investment, you may think. In sanding your car, you have two options – to use an electric orbital sander or to go for the sandpapers.

Remember, the sandpaper comes in various grades, and a high grade will amount to a quality sanding process. Nevertheless, an electric sander may get the job completely done, as it will and the entire surface of the car without you wasting time and effort.

If the painting process involves the metal of the car, then you have to sand certain parts and use sandpaper to finish the job.

The entire process is time-consuming and can take up to three hours to complete. The ultimate goal of stripping the surface is to get a perfect surface before painting irrespective of the time frame invested in sanding the car.

2. Cleaning the Surface

After sanding the car, the next thing is to ensure the surface area is free of any dust or particles. If your goal is to paint the exterior of the car, you can use a hose with water to wash the surface of the car properly.

Nothing including grease or road grime should be on the surface of the care. Furthermore, allow the surface to dry before taping the areas of the car that requires painting.

3. Priming the surface

Priming the surface of your car is a critical phase not to neglect. This should be done before applying the main paint. If you are doing the painting yourself, ensure you choose an excellent automotive primer, which is designed for metal surfaces.

I assume you have already cleaned the surface thoroughly. The thumb rule is to apply two or more primer coats in order to ensure the metal is covered completely. For those painting plastic areas, ensure to use a plastic primer designed for a purpose.

Additionally, you have to protect yourself by using a dust mask, eye protection, and cover any exposed part of your skin. Apply the primer consistently to all areas of the car that requires painting. Ensure you alone it to dry.

4. Painting the car

how to prep car for painting
Repair and painting car mechanic

Unless you are a professional in using a paint gun, you should tape every area that you don’t want to paint. There are special tapes designed for this purpose. You can choose to invest in one of these before your painting affects areas you don’t want.

Apply these tapes to the plastic edges of the car. With this, you can have the opportunity of painting the other areas conveniently without consideration of the unwanted part. There are many paint guns available in the market.

Ensure you invest in a quality paint gun as it affects the quality of the painting. Before the paint dries finally, remove the tape used during the sanding process and this should be done carefully as you don’t want the paint to have access to areas you have sealed off.

5. Performing light coating

Painting a car takes patience and time to get the perfect result you desire. Most beginners make the mistake of painting the car once; however, professional painters know that multiple light coats of paints are better than using thick paint.

Another thing to watch out is that most painters are tempted to apply a large amount of paint in order to minimize the time investing in painting the car. Notwithstanding, the outcome won’t be what you expect if the paint runs and builds up.

Therefore, to avoid such situation, you should hold the spray nozzle 10 inches far from the car before applying even strokes. Furthermore, the strokes should be in a horizontal pattern. Don’t apply the paint in vertical strokes.

Inspect your job to ensure there is no imperfection to the finishing. If after this, you discover a setback, you can redo the whole process on that affected spot.

6. Choosing the perfect Paint

Before starting the entire process, you should have put this into consideration. If your goal is to match the current color, ensure you know the particular color type and its different shade.

However, if you are unsure of these, you can consult a professional or read your car manual. Doing it yourself can be hectic because we have over 7,000 colors with different shades, and finding the exact one for your car can be a considerable challenge.

Because of this, most car owners decide to use new paint to avoid this stress. Whatever, the situation, give your car the new appearance it needs.

Finally, the video below shows you how to prepare a car for painting:

How do you prep a car for paint before painting?

Sand the paint either to the bare metal, the original primer, or at least sufficiently for the new paint to adhere. Dry sand using 180-grit sandpaper to remove rust or surface damage before moving on to a 320-grit paper to remove your previous 180-grit scratches.

How do I prepare my car for body painting?

How to Prime Your Car Before Painting

  • Pause and inspect the area. This is the ideal time to take stock of the situation and work out if any further surface prep, such as sanding, needs to be done.
  • Remove any bumps or rough patches by re-sanding the area. Clean and re-apply the primer.

Can you paint over existing auto paint?

If the existing finish is still relatively new and in good shape, and you just want to change the color or put something like a pearl coat over it (as we show later), then sanding down the existing paint and recovering it should be fine. If so, it can be painted over like the rest of the car.

How long can primer sit before painting car?

around 24 hours

Most primers should sit on a car for around 24 hours before applying the base coat of paint. Some primers may dry in as little as 30 minutes, but experts say to apply the primer 24 hours before painting for the best results.

Do you have to sand primer before painting car?

If you are applying a primer, you should wait about 24 hours before applying a base coat or enamel based paint. Also, between primer and paint applications, you should wet sand the vehicle with a 1000 – 1200 grit piece of sandpaper. Just make sure that you allow the paint to drive before correcting the mistake.

Do you sand after primer on a car?

It may be necessary to sand down your car again after the primer is dried. Many times applying the primer can cause mounds or dips in areas and you want to smooth these out as much as possible. Only use fine grain sandpaper for the primer as you do not want to sand off the primer.

Do you sand primer before painting metal?

It’s important to apply primer before painting because it protects the surface and enables the paint to adhere better. Whether you’re priming a porous substance such as wood or a smooth substance such as metal, you need to sand the substance beforehand.

Can you primer over old car paint?

Different types of primer for a car are available. To get the primer to stick over paint could take up to four or five layers before being able to fully stick and cover up the under paint. Taking even a light wet sander over the original paint will help with the High-Build primer process.

Is primer needed to paint over paint?

You probably don’t need a primer. If the current wall is smooth, clean and covered with the same type of paint (both are oil-based for example), you can head straight for the paint.

What automotive primer should I use over old paint?

Top 5 Best Automotive Primers to Cover Old Paint

  • U-POL High Solids High Build Urethane Primer Kit With Hardener.
  • Speedokote SMR 210/211 – Automotive High Build 2K Urethane Primer.
  • Speedokote Epoxy DTM Primer Sealer Kit SMR-260G/261.
  • Evercoat 713 Gray Feather Fill G2 Primer.

Preparing Car for Painting | Conclusion

Understandably, prepping your car before painting it involves time, money, and other resources. However, engaging a professional can be expensive for most people.

No matter what the choice may be, the right prepping will increase the lifespan of the car body. The process requires skill and perfection.

Notwithstanding, with a paint sprayer, electric sander, paint of your choice, and dedication, your car can get a new lift.