This is going to sound like a topic, but in an increasingly globalized world in which everything is on the internet, if we try to do a search for how to paint a car in a professional way we find a lot of tutorials that give us tips to paint the vehicle yourself with “professional results.”
But unfortunately, no matter how much they promise you, no matter how much skill and implication you dedicate, and no matter how much material you bought, the result will never be worthy of a factory car. Neither for quality of finish nor for durability.
Repairs are Simplified
A few years ago, and also now but to a lesser extent, going to the trade school to receive the necessary training to be a vehicle painter almost guaranteed you a job, and that guild’s devotion to their work made the simple task of painting a car as the last step of repair in a handicraft.
Today, in an economic context where economies of scale is popular, with the prices of the cheapest parts of vehicles are mass-produced and globally-distributed, even sharing platforms with other brands, repairs are increasingly simplified.
The work that the plater used to do based on working the metal to take it to its original state is now often limited to changing the panel to a new one, or it is filled with a few kilos of putty. A more drastic but cheaper repair if we talk about total costs.
Painting a Car is not Cheap
Painting a car is not a cheap process if we stick to the prices of brands or companies specializing in painting vehicles. But why? Well, for the work to be of quality it is necessary to have, in addition to the personnel with the appropriate qualification, the material, and the facilities.
The price of painting is approximately only a quarter of the cost of a job well done.
The price of the paint can be around, depending on the price that can be achieved and the quality of the materials, between 400 and 700 dollars. The big difference in price lies in the amount of work hours spent on preparing the body.
The working hours exclusively for the painting process range from 17 to 22, to which we would have to add another 3 or 5 hours for the disassembly and assembly of parts, pilots, etc.
They also estimate that with a price between 70 and 100 dollars per hour of work in good brand dealers in Phoenix, the total amount could rise to a range that goes from 1000 dollars to 2000 dollars, plus VAT and more Materials price.
In any case, this would be in a hypothetical situation in which the car plate was perfect, without having to repair or mask anything. Simply disassemble, prepare and paint. To get to know the right price you will have to take the car to the workshop and they can evaluate it in detail.
What is needed for a professional paint job?
Although there are many offers of “professional painters” that leave cars as new, it is vital that we do not get carried away by excessively good offers. It may be that cheap jobs can pay off at first, it is possible that if we look closely we will find details that give away a mediocre job that possibly in the not too distant future begins to show why it was so cheap.
Sometimes we simplify our reasoning about the prices of things thinking exclusively about the cost of materials, but many more things have to be taken into account in painting work. The cost of painting is only about a quarter of the price of a job well done. Let’s talk about them.
Perhaps this is the only point in common between those who do professional painting work and those who do not. A qualified painter, with all his qualifications, his skill and his experience can paint cars in his house, but there he doesn’t have everything he needs to make the finish really good.
Professional painters usually receive training courses from manufacturers of paint products on the new materials used. Their experience thus increases and they can undertake cutting-edge work that a “normal” painter may not know how to do exactly, what blowing pressure to use, exact proportions of the mixture.
Material for Repairs
Welding equipment, putty, orbital sanding machines, proper lighting, masks, suits, glasses, gloves, paper and tape to cover. Many elements are required that make the difference between something well done and something simply done.
Surely you have ever seen a vehicle that had part of the exhaust pipe painted in the same color as the bodywork, right? That is a job just done, not well done.
Auto Car Elevator
To leave everything ready before painting with an elevator can make things much easier. Can you do a good job without an elevator? Of course, but they can also be done without the specific tools of some brands, although it is not the most appropriate precisely.
The booths are possibly the most expensive and, at the same time, vital material that we are going to find throughout the process. Also known as paint ovens, the booths have a double function. On the one hand, they maintain an environment free of particles since they absorb the air and filter it to prevent both the impurities in suspension from the environment being deposited in the pieces that we want to treat and that they go outside.
On the other hand, the booths maintain a constant temperature inside to control or accelerate the drying processes of the paint. Another relevant function is the good lighting inside the cabin to have an impression as accurate as possible of the state of work we are doing.
Needless to say, but to paint we need air to throw the paint from the gun to the part we are working with. But not only that, because the tools like drills, radials or sanders that we can use in the repair process also work with air.
With a compressor and a hose we can manage, of course, but professionals need an environment where they have air intakes to connect to depending on the work area they are using. In addition, to power the entire installation without running out of pressure, in the professional workshops the typical compressor with wheels is not used, an industrial one is needed.
This is the painting process
Preparing the surface
The first step in painting a car is to prepare the surface. Applying paint hands on a careless surface is a guarantee of imminent disgust. Either by undertaking a repair or by rejuvenating the appearance of the body, the sheet must be treated.
If the surface is not well finished, putty and sand should be applied until we have a uniform finish. The sanding process of the putty has its substance and so that the paint that we are going to apply later grips correctly and does not reveal impurities, we must sand from coarser to a finer grain. Ideally, start with a P-80 grit sandpaper and finish with a P-240, passing between them a P-150.
Before painting, prepare
And now that we have the surface with a perfect finish we start painting. Well no, it’s still too soon for that. Before we have to leave the surface even more perfect and for this, we are going to use the rig.
Painting a car is more than spraying paint. First, you have to repair, prepare and homogenize the surface
The rig is a product that we will apply on the caulked surface that acts thanks to its mixing with a catalyst. After allowing it to dry during the hours indicated by the manufacturer (about 8 hours usually), it must be sanded with a very fine grade to give it a perfect finish and equalize the entire surface by homogenizing the parts of sheet metal with which they are masked, for example. Now it works with even finer grain: P-400, P-600 and P-1000.
When everything is ready you have to clean the piece completely, first removing solid waste with a good blow and then passing a cloth with a degreasing agent. So that the particles suspended in the air do not deposit again in the piece to be painted, it is necessary to have a booth with a particle filtration system.
Time to paint
With everything ready, it’s time to apply the paint. Obviously the first of all is that the color chosen is appropriate. If we want an identical finish to the series we will have to know exactly the tone, and for this we can resort to a sticker that is placed in some hidden place of the cabin as the frame of the doors where the color code of the painting is shown.
The paint is applied in successive layers , the first one being a layer applied very smoothly. This is done to discover imperfections and to ensure the good grip of the paint. In case any mistake has been made it is always easier to solve if the first layer is light.
After allowing the first one to dry according to the indications in a controlled environment without particles in the air and with a homogeneous temperature, the rest of the layers are applied.
The final bit: varnish
To provide a shine that dazzles as soon as you take it out of the workshop you have to use a good varnish that enhances the work that has been done during this time. Typically, two coats of varnish are applied but allowing to dry well between hands.
If all this we have told you is done step by step and with the appropriate materials we will have guaranteed a first level result for the vehicle, but of course, that to achieve it we must have all the materials, products and personnel that allow it. And all that has a price.