How to Paint a Car Yourself

What You'll Need
Random orbital sander
Rubber block
Sanding paper (various grades)
Masking tape
Old newspaper
Aerosol primer
Aerosol paint
White spirit or degreaser

Although an auto body paint shop remains the best place to get your car painted, there are a few instances where small jobs can be carried out yourself. Auto body paint shops can be fairly expensive and small accident repairs can be easily completed at just a fraction of the cost.

Step 1 – Be Realistic

Only consider painting a vehicle yourself if the job is relatively small. The difficulties involved in preparing and refinishing an entire vehicle are numerous and painting a large number of panels outside of a specialist low-bake oven can be exceedingly dangerous, especially if effective respiratory isn’t being worn. Focus on 1 or 2 panels, but no more. Do not use professional guns or compressors for this task. Aerosols are much better for small repair jobs when they are being used outside of a low-bake oven

Step 2 – Repairs

  • Dents should be lifted out from the rear of a car body panel by pushing gently outwards beginning at the outer edges of the impression.
  • Work to the middle of the dent until the majority of the crease is removed.
  • Sand down the dent and surrounding area with a P80 grade disk and remove excess dust before applying a thin layer of automotive body filler.
  • Allow to dry before rubbing level with P120 grade paper on a rubber block.
  • Finish the filler with a light rub of P240 grade paper for a smoother finish.
  • Rust can be removed using P80 paper.

Step 3 – Panel Preparation

  • Feather out the repaired edges using a P320 sanding disk on a random orbital sander. This should help to even out old layers of paint to promote an entirely flat surface.
  • Rub down the remainder of the panel with P500 paper for a smooth, paintable finish.
  • The surface can now be cleaned and rough masked for priming. Make sure that masking is of sufficient size to prevent overspray from landing on adjacent panels.

Step 4 – Priming

The repaired area should be primed using a high-solid aerosol primer.

  • Apply 4 even coats to the repair making sure that each cross coat overlaps the last for a smooth, consistent texture.
  • Always wear some form of protective respiratory equipment if possible.
  • Allow to dry thoroughly before rubbing down using a piece of P800 grade wet-and-dry paper on a rubber block.

The panel should be checked in sunlight for any remaining signs of dents and imperfections before painting commences.

Step 5 – Clean and Mask

  • Clean the prepared panel thoroughly.
  • Remove all dust and thoroughly degrease the panel using an auto body paint specialist product or a diluted mixture of water and white spirit at a ratio of approximately 6:1. This can be applied using a clean lint-free cloth.
  • Mask the panel using a good quality masking tape and layers of newspaper. Make sure that the paper is masked back far enough to prevent the risk of overspray on adjacent panels once painting begins.

Step 6 – Painting

  • Apply 3 even coats of paint.
  • Make sure that each cross coat overlaps for an even finish without dry edges.
  • Allow paint to flash off for several minutes between coats.
  • If primer continues to show through the paint, simply add more coats until covered.
  • Allow to dry and unmask. Remember that effective respiratory equipment should be worn for this stage.
  • Paint can be polished after it has been allowed to cure for a period of no less than 48 hours.