Test Color First
Measure twice, cut once, isn’t that the saying? It’s the same story with paint. You will need to do a color test first before painting your vehicle. Automotive Touchup provides you with a test card to do this, as an easy-to-use color preview tool. Follow the how-to video on their website for exact instructions. This way, you can view your vehicle’s existing paint alongside the touch-up color.
Watch the Weather Conditions
If you’re using an aerosol spray to complete your work, remember to avoid the cold. Spraying should be done in about 70 to 80 degree F weather. You should also do it when skies are dry, ideally with humidity levels of 50% or less.
Prep the Repair Area
It’s true, usually, you’d want to use car-specific soap on your vehicle to get it clean. This is the one time to avoid it. Car soap often contains wax. Use dish soap instead, such as Palmolive, to clean the area you need to paint. Dry the region completely with a lint-free towel, and apply some prep-solvent. This will ensure your vehicle’s touchup area is free from any oils, wax or silicone.
Need to Sand?
For projects that involve paint pens and bottles, you may not be sanding. It depends. If you are covering a large swath of metal and using aerosol paint, however, sanding is in order.
Generally speaking, primer will cover 180-320 grit sanding scratches. Stay within these grades of sandpaper. Sand the area and clear out any rust or surface irregularities. Then, move on to wet sanding. For this, you use 600 grit wet sandpaper to cover the area in which you will be putting your basecoat. In the space in which you will be blending your touch up paint with the existing paint, (the blend panel), use something finer, such as 1000-1500 grit wet sandpaper. You’re looking for a smooth finish.
If you’re dealing with new plastic parts, use a fine scuff pad over the area. New metal parts need to be gone over with a medium or fine scuff pad, depending on the paint being applied. Use medium for topcoating with solid colors. Apply a fine scuff pad for pearls and metallics.
Mask for Best Results
By touching up the paint on your vehicle, you’re trying to make your life easier. Masking your vehicle when applying paint can be tricky, however. Consider these tips. You do want to prevent the good areas of your vehicle from being painted accidentally when you spray the region that needs fixing. Overspray isn’t your friend. Limit your tape lines when masking off adjacent panels. In small areas, use 1 ½ or 2-inch masking tape and never apply tape mid-panel, or you will leave a line once it’s removed. If you absolutely have to apply tape in the middle, avoid spraying directly against the tape’s edge. This will help ensure the best results. Tape lines are difficult to fix, and so prevent them from taking hold in the first place.
Create a tape line first, and then secure paper over it. When spraying, beware of heavy coats of paint leaking through your newspaper, if you’re using it. And be especially careful when working indoors- you don’t want to paint the entire vehicle. It can be a good idea to mask your vehicle fully with plastic sheeting to prevent overspray from tainting areas that don’t require fixing, when indoors.
Priming your vehicle is straightforward. If you’re coating plastic or fiberglass parts with aerosol paint, you’ll use plastic parts adhesion promoter first, before priming. Two light coats are enough. This is only done when using aerosol paint and isn’t needed when using paint in pens or bottles.
Next, shake your primer well and apply it over your sanded areas. As a general rule, apply three or more coats. Let each dry for 5 to 10 minutes in between. Once your final product has dried for an additional 30 minutes at the end, sand the primer with 600 grit wet sandpaper. You can use plain old water to clean off any dust that results. Let it all dry once more. Replace the dusty masking tape and paper. Use a tack rag to collect any remaining lint and debris.
Paint and Blend
You’re almost there! Double check your color match. Shake your paint well and spray a test panel with basecoat and clearcoat to do this. Cover your area with medium coats, waiting 5 to 10 minutes between each, for drying. Wait an additional 30 minutes before using a clearcoat.
What about lines and blending? Automotive Touchup provides useful how-to videos on the best approaches to making lines disappear in your paint. The goal is to blend your new paint thoroughly with the existing color for a flawless look.
What about tri-coat paint repair? There are a few more steps to painting, with this process. Tri-coat means the vehicle manufacturer used a groundcoat plus a very transparent color with a higher density pearl on top, for a specific effect. There are usually three steps to follow. They include a base or groundcoat, a midcoat and a final clearcoat. Practice this method before trying it out on your car.
Finish With a Clearcoat
Make sure you’ve waited at least 30 minutes for your basecoat color to dry before applying your clearcoat. Shake your aerosol, pen or bottle well and apply two to four wet coats. Wait 5 to 10 minutes in between layers for drying and up to 20 minutes for bottles and pens. Allow your clearcoat to dry entirely overnight. Wait a full 24 hours before applying any rubbing compound. This will bring out a high level of gloss on your vehicle.
Check your color match and paint technique by practicing your touch up, first. You can do this on a glossy sheet of paper or extra metal, such as a can.
Avoid applying heavy coats as they can drip. Stick to many layers of light coats.
Always apply paint in a well-ventilated area.
Store your paint properly, in a cool, dry place, (ie, not your vehicle).
Wait at least 30 days to wax your vehicle after touching up.
Avoid spraying primer, paint and clearcoat in direct sunlight.
Remember, it can take your project longer to dry in cooler weather.
Use a respirator mask and safety goggles.
Keep all products away from children.