How To Paint A Wooden Boat

One of the great increasing mysteries of today’s modern boatbuilding is the amount of hi-tech gobble-de-gook that the average home boat builder is expected to wade through when the time comes to paint the boat after the horrendous amount of sanding, fairing and hard work is (mostly) over and the fruits of your labour now require a shiny deep lustre that the painting now promises to bring. This part, to my mind at least, is one of the best parts of boatbuilding, the finish! (Well, at least the start of the finish!)

Painting a boat used to be a reasonably simple task. All one needed was a fine dry day, one of Dad’s paintbrushes, some turps, a roll of masking tape, a bit of pink primer left over from the decorating and a half gallon of shiny blue enamel paint from the local hardware store…they were the days!

Not so today, my friends! The unsuspecting boat builder who toddles off to the local chandlery or superstore best be prepared for the very worst- not only will he (or she) face a huge financial onslaught on their wallet but a mind boggling array of hi-tech whiz wow balderdash that the (generally) uninformed shop assistant will proceed to throw in their general direction in the faint hope that you will give in under the stress and buy several litres of the latest polurethanicalslitheryaminomolecular goop that’s just come in. For example, you’ll be faced with trade names like ‘Interlux Interthane coating’. I mean, come on, it sounds like a new space invaders game! This is bloody paint! There are many others but I’m sure you get the gist of what I’m saying.

Another example of the kind of thing that drives me nuts is that you can expect to buy several litres of a iso-cyanate two pack marine polyurethane paint only to be cheerfully told its illegal to spray it unless you have a proper licenced premises to do so, drone drone!! I suppose they have to make up new names to go with the new paint company policies of charging up to $150 a litre for some of these new fangled paints! What the hell have they discovered that’s so expensive to put in this stuff? I was under the impression that paint was a few litres of linseed oil, turps, some drying agents and a few ounces of pigments for colour…can I really be so out of touch?

BACK TO BASICS

So, why do we paint wooden boats? Or any other boat for that matter? The first part of that question is easy. Boats look much smarter and better if they shine and gleam a bit… it’s only human nature after all. The second part to that question is: We want to protect it. Ok, from what? Well, wood rots if you don’t paint it, right? – wrong! Wood left to its own devices does not rot. Wood only rots as a result of its environment. There are multiple cases of how, plain untreated wood can last for centuries as long as it is in the correct environment. There are basically only a few elements that start wood rotting. Biological attack from spores, fungi, temperature, high humidity or total absorption, physical attack from marine borers and crustaceans that allow ingress to all the other elements aforementioned.

Don’t let’s forget that polluted waters can degrade timber to the point where it will rot….we’ll add chemical attack to that list too. So, in view of all these very compelling reasons we protect our boat by painting it to coat it fully against these assaults.

PREPARATION OF TIMBER

The actual preparation of timber can cover a range of differing requirements. If your boat is a new build you won’t have to go through many of the preparatory stages that an older boat may have to go through. With some forms of boatbuilding where a boat has been built by a different method such as strip planking or cold moulding, we paint the boat as if it were a fibreglass boat, due to the fact that either layers of fibreglass cover the timber or that the timber has been coated with epoxy that does not allow conventional paints to adhere to it properly. However, if we wish to protect bare timber then we use a different tack. Timber in its bare natural state has millions of thin hollow tubes running through it, constructed of cellulose in its natural form. We have to seal these tubes to prevent the ingress of water into them. Therefore we seal and coat the timber first of all.

The first thing we do is to clean and remove any loose and flaking or damaged paint plus any dirt that remains on the hull – sounds easy if you say it quick but it must be done! If necessary (and most times it is) degrease the hull using a proprietary paint degreaser after removing all dust preferably with a vacuum cleaner. Don’t forget it won’t be absolutely necessary to get all the hull back to bare wood just dry, clean, grease and dust free.

FILLING AND IMPERFECTIONS

Obviously, not many timber craft are perfect on the outside. There are many blemishes, cracks, imperfections and splits both large and small to deal with by filling them and sanding them flush before priming the boat. It’s a bit of a chore but time spent here will reward you with a boat that will certainly look better plus have a longer life. Some folks fill these holes and imperfections in timber with epoxy filler but it is not a good idea. Sometime later, for example, when the boat has to undergo a repair, it will be the very devil of a job to remove the epoxy from a fastening hole. It’s best to use some kind of proper timber filler that dries hard and fast but is never that hard that it can’t be removed later on. For example, painter’s glazing compound is a fairly hard setting soft paste that can be quickly applied then sanded and painted satisfactorily. Carvel boats usually have their seams filled fair with a special seam compound AFTER the boat has been primed. Once the boat has been filled and faired smooth and all dust removed we are ready to put some actual paint on. Remember, the difference between a professional paint job and an amateur is the PREPARATION!

WOOD PRESERVATIVE

There are two schools of thought about treating bare timber with wood preservatives. I’ve heard stories that primers and paints don’t adhere to many of them. In my case, I have never personally had that happen to me, so I am generally in favour of using them. Nevertheless, I am convinced that in many cases where the paint refuses to stick to timber is because the wood has not properly dried out after application. There is a definite percentage of humidity level that every timber has (and most of them differ slightly) where paint of any description simply won’t stick. It can be up to fifteen per cent in some timbers. Above all, ensure that your timber is dry enough to allow any paint or filler to adhere to it. Remember too that salt deposits on timber will readily contain water and keep it damp…. if your boat was in salty water wash it off in fresh before commencing painting. When and only when, your timber preservative is dry the next stage is:

PRIMER

The first coat of primer to go onto your hull is metallic grey primer. It is a good primer to use because it is made up of millions of microscopic flat metal (aluminium) plates that lie on top of each other giving water a very hard time to pass though it…Pink primer for example, has circular molecules of substances therefore allowing water to ingress a lot quicker…fact! Grey primers also contain certain oils and most have anti-mould agents contained within (biocides to you and I) We put two coats of grey primer above the waterline and three, no less, below it.

SOME OTHER OBSERVATIONS ABOUT PRIMERS

There are a whole world of paint primers out there and confusion about their qualities are very common. For basic dry timbers, the grey metallic primers are good as previously explained. Also many oil-based primers from well-known companies are also very good and will do the job perfectly well. Hi-build primers however must be approached with caution and I must say that I have never personally got on too well with them. Most of them contain Titanium Dioxide (that’s talcum powder to us lot) and even when it is fully cured can absorb copious amounts of moisture that can prevent really good paint adhesion. To avoid this only paint hi-build primers on good clear dry days and avoid excessive atmospheric humidity levels. Then, as soon as is possible apply the topcoats to seal them in. Note too, that hi-build primers are a soft type of paint and can suffer badly from scuffing over stony or shingly beaches and even when launching from boat trailers. When sanding these primers remember that huge clouds of white dust are released so be aware of where you sand and wear appropriate safety masks.

TOPCOATS

Once again, there are many types to choose from. Let’s get the two- packs out of the way first. TWO-PACK POLYURETHANES have to be applied over a two-pack epoxy undercoat first of all. They have a fantastic finish and that’s fine but you must be absolutely sure that the timber underneath is not going to move because the paint cures so hard that it can and will crack (strip plankers and cold moulded boats are your best bet here…apart of course from glass boats). The primary reason is that timber constructed boats move or ‘work’ as it is known. You may well get away with it if your timber boat has been glassed from new….not glassed over later as a preventative method to stop leaks. Rarely boats treated thus dry out properly and are still susceptible to movement as the timber inside the glass either rots because it was wet or it dries out too much and shrinks. Also boats that have been chined properly, that is, strips of timber glued in between the planks instead of being caulked, stand a reasonable chance of not moving.

Ok, what else? One pack or single pack polyurethane paints can be a good choice for a topcoat…they are almost as glossy and as durable as the two-packs but not quite! They are however, less expensive and far easier to apply than the two-packs… there are a multitude of them out there, so a bit of research is required plus your own personal choice…I’m not going to get involved in a slanging match about which ones are the best! However, remember most major well-known paint manufacturer’s products are usually ok! It’s your call!

So next on my list are marine enamels. Once again, it pays to remember that anything with MARINE in front of it is usually expensive…a good place to avoid in this quest is the large hardware chain stores that sport one or two paints in this category and I’ve fallen for it myself before now. It’s the Name we are looking for!

Even with decent quality marine enamels some of the whites have been known to yellow with age and the way round this is to buy the off-white colours such as cream or buff. My last choice in Marine enamels proper, is a relative newcomer…a water-based enamel. I personally have never used any but I have heard some good reports and there has to be a few advantages with them, quick cleanup for one and you can even drink the thinners!

ASSORTED CHOICES

There are a few types of paint systems that are different to the abovementioned and as usual they probably will draw a lot of flack from those types that love writing to the editor for some reason or the other. Mainly I suspect, because something isn’t quite conventional. Each of the following paints has their different uses and attributes.

HOUSE PAINT ENAMELS

Over the years the quality of house paint enamels has been increasing dramatically to the point where many yachties I know paint their boats with it. It’s a bit softer (and definitely cheaper) than most single pack polyurethanes and some colours, mostly the darker hues, tend to fade earlier than others. However, the fact remains that they can be an excellent choice especially if you own a small boat and don’t mind repainting it every couple of years….cheap to buy, easy to apply!

WATER BASED ACRYLICS

A few years ago you wouldn’t have dreamed of painting your boat with acrylic paint….it would have peeled off in great strips. That does not apply today however. My own boat, The NICKY J has been painted using Wattyl’s Acrylic semi-gloss “CANE” and it is really amazing. I used gloss for the hull and semi-gloss for the decks over white epoxy primer single pack and it has been really good. Never once has it even looked like delaminating. I paint the boat once a year with a roller and it takes less than a day…and she’s forty two feet long! It is yet another choice!

Well there’s your main paint choices but I urge you to remember one thing…preparation is King… it will save you plenty of money in the long run, for sure.

HOW TO APPLY YOUR PAINT

There are of course, three main methods of applying your paints; Spraying, brushing and rollering. There’s another that many people use, a combination of the last two, rolling and tipping, we’ll deal with that one later.

Let’s take a look at spraying. There are several pre-requisites for a decent spray job. These usually are a decent workshop complete with suction fans and half decent ventilation using good spray gear (cheapo underpowered stuff just doesn’t cut the mustard) and most importantly, adequate and proper safety gear. There are always exceptions to the rule and there’s one chap who works in Edge’s boatyard outside in the weather and he does a fantastic job…imagine how much better he might be if he worked indoors!! You will also have to watch the weather, high humidity is not good and also where the overspray goes…not over anyone’s car as is so often the case! A good excess of paint is lost and wasted in the process. If you have a driving need for you boat to look like your car then sprayings for you! Oh yeah, it quick(ish) too!

Brushing by hand can yield incredible results if you are patient and also know what you are doing. I’ve seen boats that at first glance look like they have been sprayed only to find out that they were hand painted by brush…….Dust free atmosphere and bloody good brushes (I mean expensive) are an absolute must here.

Last of all, rollering especially the ‘roll and tip’ method. This requires two people working together as a team. One rolls the paint on thinly and the other follows closely with a decent brush and ‘tips’ out the bubbles left behind by the roller – unbelievably good finishes can be obtained by this method.

A word of warning, no matter which method you use. Don’t be tempted to retouch runs or sags in the paint or you will ruin the finish….wait until the paint has fully dried then deal with it! It’s tempting but paint always seems to gel quicker than you would think!

A SUMMARY

There are many facets to the successful painting of a boat. We can’t be good at all of them and you have to choose the method most suited to you own particular capabilities. A lot depends on the facilities that you have available at your disposal. Some people have the garden to work in others may have huge sheds and even access to a warehouse! I will say that a few basic rules apply to painting even the smallest boat. Often, too much, too clever or too sophisticated is often detrimental to what you are trying to achieve.

I have seen boats that cost twenty grand to paint and they were just really average…why? Wrong choice of painter, that’s why. If you are going to choose a painter it’s not a crime to ask him to show you some examples of his work. If he’s any good there should be plenty…there are plenty of chancers and cowboys about, rest assured. All boats, every single one of them will need retouching or even a repaint within years. Just how long you get for your money is the trick. Unless you put your freshly painted boat in a museum or garage and lock it away you can bet that from day one, it will collect nicks, dings, scratches and scars, it’s inevitable. Beware the painter who tells you, ‘yes it will be ten grand, but it’ll outlast you and me’. The need for repainting is directly proportional to how badly the boat is treated over the years. The only way of keeping your boat pristine and perfect is never to actually put it in that dirty old water once it’s done! Be realistic about your own abilities and your expectations. Simple can be better in many cases.

A SIMPLE FORMULA FOR CALCULATING HOW MUCH PAINT YOU NEED (FOR ONE COAT)

This is interesting if not exactly exact! But it gets very close indeed. This is applicable to brushing and rolling only NOT spraying. There’s a different formula for that and I don’t know it!

THE FORMULA

ONE COAT = The boat’s length overall x the beam x 0.85

Divided by square feet covered per litre listed on the paint can instructions.

If you can’t work it out the paint manufacturer will tell you if you ring the company hotline.

Over the years, wooden boats have survived the elements in spite of very crude and primitive forms of paint. Many early vessels were simply daubed in pitch, bitumen, turps and beeswax. An early Thames barge had survived for over a hundred years in perfect condition as she was originally used as a bitumen tanker!! The dark brown shiny finish was the most perfect example of preserved wood that I have ever seen. One of the most interesting boats I ever saw was painted with fence paint…the owner reckoned he’d only ever painted it once in thirty years! Another old boat builder I knew once told me the secret of painting a wooden boat was to paint it with as many coats of paint that you could afford!

How To Paint Your Car

Masking & Preparation

To begin this venture we need to clean the metal on the car. After we clean the metal, make sure it’s dry before we begin to mask the car, also do a last minute check to be sure it’s free of all dirt grease and other contaminants.

Now it’s time to mask the car, and be sure to mask all that you don’t want painted leaving no masking hanging of the car, that would get in the way of a nice paint job. The main idea of the whole thing is to produce the best quality paint possible with the given surroundings, it is preferred that you have a paint booth, but if not, make sure that the area that you use to perform the work is ultra clean and dust free.

After the car has been masked it’s time to get ready to spray the primer, once again make sure that you have cleaned your surroundings, it’s best to have some water on the floor to keep the dust down, once you are confident that the area is clean then you can begin checking the spray guns to be sure that they are clean. This is a very important step especially if they’re not your guns, dirty guns will make an ugly paint job there for wasting all of your time.

Now that you have determined that the paint guns are clean, make sure that your respirator is in good working order. Now be sure that you have all the products that you need to perform the primer job on the car. You will need primer, reducer and catalyst, you will also need strainers, stir sticks and a measuring device.

It’s best not to have to leave the paint booth during the time that your priming the car. Reducer comes in different temperatures and you need to know what temp is best for your working conditions.

The temps are as follows, their is a high temp that is designed to dry slower when it’s hot in the area where your working, high temp is good for 80 degrees and up, theirs also a mid temp, this probably the most popular temp used this is best used from 55 to 80 degrees and is designed to dry faster to make up for the colder temp, due to the fact primer will run easier in the cold weather. Now we have low temp reducer this will dry extremely slow therefore for giving the primer a better chance to run. I tell you all this in an effort to help you better understand the products that you are working with, the more you know the better armed you are for problems when they happen.

Now it’s time to enter the paint booth, and as you do pay attention to the booth filters and be sure that they sure clean also. Now get your can of primer and read the instructions on the side, usually the mix is 4:1 or 4 parts primer to one part reducer and a cap or two of catalyst and for the best results follow these instructions. After you spray the first coat of primer, you will need to wait 15 to 20 minute before you can spray the next and so on, the way I like to do this is to give the body work areas a coat or two first to build them up. The whole reason we use primer is is to give the paint a smooth surface to stick to and give the metal some protection from the elements, it’s usually a good idea to get 4 or 5 good coats on the car.

If you are really serious about the way that you want it to look the you might want to take the primer one step farther and use an etching primer before you spray the urethane or epoxy primer, an etching primer will give the top coat just a little more to stick to. Etching primer has no building qualities there for it’s not used for smoothing out waves in your work, but it will make the primer stick allot better.

I do suggest that you always use a urethane primer,and not lacquer type,as lacquer can and will shrink urethane or epoxy is recommended for best results. Epoxy is a very hard primer to sand but it’s extremely tough, and urethane is I think probably your best choice,because it’s high building and easy sanding, their are a lot of brands to choose from, I use DuPont euro myself but it’s all up to you to choose that.

Now that your card is primed, it’s time to remove the masking, and I like to do this while it’s still a little wet for the sake of ease, just be very careful about how you do it, you don’t want to screw up all that nice work, so just take it slow and easy while pulling the masking off your car.

(Sanding)

Well now the hard part is here, before you start to sand the car you’ll want to be sure that it’s been guide coated, this will make it easier for you to get an ultra smooth finish. Heres where we weed the boys form the men, if your trying to do a show finish on the car that your painting, you will want to sand it by hand with water running on it all the time.

This is the hard part,and you will have lazy people that will want to use a machine to do this, this is just a word to the wise, you have allot better control over a hand block. The best way to produce this type of high quality work is to have the best control over it that you can, offten a machine will go through your primer. If your trying to produce show quality work this would mean priming that area again I.E. more time spent, this is time that could be spent better doing other things.

Now I will explain a bit about what a guide coat is, this is it in a nut-shell. The guide coat is the step right after the car has been primed, you should do this before you pull the masking, what this in tails is misting a light coat of black paint over the primer so that you can see the low spots in your work, and no matter how good you are, you will have low spots. The idea behind this is to sand all the guide coat off with out going through to the metal on your car.

Now it’s time to start the actual sanding of the car, you need to pay close attention to detail on this part of the paint job, the better you sand it, the better it will look. I usually start with 320 grit wet paper on a medium hard block, this grit is good for getting the guide coat smoothed out, their will most likely be some small low spots that will require either spot filler or more primer. This is one of those areas where you need to pay a little attention to detail, here you will need to look at the depth of the low spot and think about it, how low is it will primer alone fill it, or will it take spot filler and then primer.

Now that you’ve finished that part it’s time to move on to the next grit of paper, I usually move to 400 grit on a medium- hard sanding block from here, you don’t want to move up to far because it can leave scratches form the previous grit of paper, so a word to the wise, don’t get in a hurry and move up to far a once this will leave seeable scratches in your work. After you’ve sanded the whole car with the 400 grit wet paper then inspect it for bare metal and guide coat still there.

The whole idea with sanding is to make the primer look the way that you want the paint to look, I sand my primer until it has a smooth shiny finish on it, as if it were the paint on the car.

You need to have a vision of how you want it to look, the one thing that you need to know is, the better you want it to look, the more you will pay for materials. Just a word of caution cheap paint materials are just exactly that cheap!!!!! and don’t use them if you want a nice paint job.

You might save some money but you will not save the agony of a crappy looking paint job. Think about this before you go and buy cheap primers and paints, do I love my car or is it just some turd to push me to work and the old ladies and back, if you love your car then don’t put cheap crap on it.

Now that I’m through with my little lecture on low quality products, it’s time to move on to the next sanding step. From 400 grit I usually move up to 600 grit wet paper, this is where I usually stop unless requested to go one more step, this is really as far as you need to go with the sanding. After you finish with the 600 grit do one final inspection of the work before cleaning it.

Well now it’s time to clean the car, for this just use soap and water, just like washing a car normally. You should blow it dry though, this being the main difference between this and a regular wash job, be sure to blow all the water out of the little cracks in the car, like the cowl area, under the hood, between the doors and in the trunk lid. Believe me this will blow water on your paint during the actual painting of the car, so be very through about this step.

If you miss some and it happens to get in your paint during the spraying process it will bubble the paint, the paint will look horrible so be sure to get all of the water out of the car first.

Now it’s to mask for the actual paint, for this refer back to the top of this page. Masking right is an art and you better take this part very serious if you want a good job.

Now that you’ve masked your car it’s time to put it in the paint booth, hopefully this is a temperature controlled booth, in any case when you roll that car in the booth all you should have to do is clean and spray, again before you put your car in the booth make sure that it’s ultra clean in there and ready to go.

Now make sure that you have everything you need in there to paint the car I.E. paint, reducer, catalyst, stir sticks, strainers and stir sticks and a measuring stick. Once again check your respirator and be sure that it’s working properly, tie your hair back and if you have a beard cover your face.

Follow all instructions on the back of the paint can to the letter or it could cause problems with the out come of your paint.

Now that you have the car in the booth, be sure to double check the masking on it, what you are looking for here is perfection and nothing less.

This means everything that if you don’t want it painted it must be masked for sure, their is no room for error here. Now you need to take a look at the supplies that you have to do the job with, and inventory them to be sure that you have everything you need to complete the job, the last thing you need is to find that you don’t have something right in the middle of painting the car. Here’s a list of what you will need for the job.

Supply List

1) Paint

2) sealer

3) reducer

4) Catalyst

5) Tack Cloths, preferably designed for clear coat

6) Measuring Cups

7) Stir Sticks

8) Measuring Stick

9) Strainers

10) Respirator in working order

Now I will give you a few things to think about, if your painting with metallic paints then you must pay allot attention to the settings on your paint gun. Metallic paints will tend to get lighter if the pressure goes up and darker if it goes down, your fluid flow and fan on your gun will also effect this.

Now I will give you a basic mixing chart, most paints will follow this chart.

Instructions

1) get your paint ready to pour.

2) make sure that your mixing cup is clean.

3) Get your strainer and sticks.

4) Put a strainer in the top of the measuring cup.

5) Now pay close attention to the level of paint in the cup.

Paint Mixing Table. Always be sure to read and follow the paint manufactures mixing guide lines. These mixing ratios are just a basic idea of what to do, things will change with different manufactures.

Recommended Air Pressure At Gun Head. Paint Mix Ratios. Paint Product.
25-40 PSI Mix 4:1:1 Base Coat

25-40 PSI Mix 4:1:1 Sealer

25-40 PSI Mix 4:1:1 Clear Coat

25-40 PSI Mix 2:1:1 Primer Coat

When using a paint gun, you try to achieve a certain spray pattern without any heavy or light areas, in the pattern chart above you would try to achieve pattern (A).

Now a lesson on gun angle. Their are only two angles you should ever need to use when holding a spray gun, and they are 45 and 90 degrees angles to the surface of the car that you are spraying, these angles will give you the best outcome possible, and also you should try to keep the spray gun at about 6 to 8 inches from your work. If you get much closer you will more then likely cause a run in the paint and, much more distance and you will get a dry look to your paint job, you also need to get a feel for the speed that you need to move the gun according to the air pressure and fluid flow of the gun.

How to Paint a Car Picture

So why is painting a picture of a car so hard compared to say a flower? Well, the main thing here with cars is if you don’t carry out every line in perfect proportion, if you just happen to make one little mistake then it can completely ruin the whole painting. The reason behind this is our brains are very good at remembering shapes and details around it. While a pink tulip can have different shades, come in different sizes, have different leaves etc, a car model remains the same, so when faced with a difference our brain will tend to spot it right away.

The idea is when you decide to start your next car painting, try to take your time and don’t rush the early stages, i am referring here to the part where you try to get all of the proportions right before starting to shade or paint your creation. Don’t let it get you down if you are not extremely talented with shading techniques or not the even the best with colors when you draw cars. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t manage to get the proportions right at the beginning the end result is usually a disaster. So you need to understand before going any further how important it is to get the proportions right. Which leaves us with the question of How do you do it? How do I do it?

Your first step is to start out with a clean sheet of paper, most preferably a pretty big one. Then go and find a picture of a car that inspires you to draw, a good picture of a car. This picture will now be used as a reference for your car painting or drawing.

Start of by drawing some soft lines on the paper, you want to try and get the general box proportion right. By box proportion I am referring to the most basic lines of the drawing such as the roof and bottom of the car. After having accomplished that, then start by adding on to your picture the front or rear of the car. This will probably be determined by how the car is positioned on your reference picture.

When you feel like you have done this and feel as if you have really nailed those lines well, then the next step will be to move on and start adding the small details to your picture such as the door handel’s, windows and the headlights etc. The next tip here is to not start doing the wheels to early because those are usually the hardest part. When you are happy with your overall lines of your car painting/picture then do the wheels. Then you need to take a well deserved break. Yes you heard right, make a cuppa take a time out. Why you might be asking? Well, this is an important step of the creation process as when you come back in an hour or so you will probably start to notice little things that need to be corrected which you didn’t happen to notice while you were drawing the car. So now add the small details and remember don’t start to shade and paint the car until you feel very satisfied with the cars shape and details. When you fell like you are happy with your design, then I would suggest you start to shade it carefully. Now how you shade it correctly is whole other topic topic, which I will be covering on my next article.

Drop Coating Metallic Auto Body Paint

Drop coating is an important skill that every auto body paint sprayer should aspire to master. Drop coats are administered during the last phase of the spraying process when metallic paints are used. When applied to an auto body panel correctly, drop coats offer full color coverage, perfect metallic content distribution and a better paint base that can accept lacquers with ease.

Applying Metallic Paint

Drop coating should be used with all metallic auto paints. Many paint sprayers apply metallic base coats using the same methods with which they apply solid colors, and this is a common error that compromises an otherwise perfect job. While horizontal arm movements are perfect for most solid color spray jobs, metallic auto body paint should be dropped onto the panel as soon as basic coverage has been achieved, and it is equally as important to cross coat the final application in horizontal and vertical directions.

Ensuring Uniform Paint Coverage

Before drop coats can be applied, the prepared car panel must be adequately covered with metallic auto body paint to help avoid primer transparency. Once the color is activated, a full wet coat of paint should be sprayed to the surface of the panel. It is essential that each horizontal spraying movement blends into the previous one to guarantee uniform coverage and distribution (overlaps of 30% to 40% are perfect). As soon as a single we coat has been applied, the auto body paint must be left to dry for around 10 minutes. Never spray a second coat until the first one has achieved a matte appearance.

Applying a Second Coat of Metallic Paint

Personally, I like to spray the next coat of paint in a different direction to the first, especially when the panel has been taken off the car. Sometimes, this isn’t possible on vertical panels, such as fenders and doors, if they are still fitted to the vehicle so don’t be too concerned if you are happier using a typical horizontal spraying pattern. The second application must be sprayed in a similar manner to the first coat, but try to achieve 80% wetness in comparison to the earlier application. Once more, the auto body paint must be left to dry for around 10 minutes until matte.

Applying the Drop Coat

If the metallic paint is still transparent, an additional coat may be required but this won’t be necessary in most cases. To spray the actual drop coat, position the spray gun 18 to 24 inches away from the surface of the panel and reduce gun pressure by 20% to 30%. Spray the auto body paint horizontally, moving the arm slowly across the panel so the metallic color drops (or falls) onto the surface. Maintain uniform coverage until the spraying process is complete. Recoat the panel from a similar distance straight away, but swap the horizontal movements for a vertical direction so the subsequent coat crosses the first. As well as guaranteeing even paint coverage, crossing the drop coat offers uniform metal distribution and a superior surface that will accept lacquer correctly.

Tacking the Drop Coat

Allow the drop coat to dry before visually inspecting the metallic auto body paint. Check for patches where coverage might be inconsistent and spray a further drop coat if necessary. With solvent-based auto body paint, it is always a good idea to run a tack rag over the vehicle panel as soon as the drop coat has dried. Specialist tack rags can be purchased for water-based auto body paint, but it is preferable to waive the tacking process as high paint build-up can peel back the color and this can lead to frustrating rework.

How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car?

These days there is something you can do rectify this situation. A new paint job works wonders but when you start looking around for an auto paint shop you realise that the cost to paint a car can be prohibitively expensive depending on what needs to be done. Or it can be relatively cheap but remember that old adage – you get what you pay for. There is a big variation in the quality and level of workmanship out there and all these factors directly influence how much it will cost to paint a car.

Decisions That Influence The Cost Of Painting Your Car

The first order of the day is to decide what sort of quality and end result you are looking for in the finished product. Do you want a high-end paint job complete with customized airbrush artwork and two-tone metallic paint using top of the range paint? Or are you just looking for a good basic repaint using good quality, durable paint that will stand the test of time, at least for a few years. Your answer to this question will determine whether you look for a specialty high-end paint shop or one of the more middle of the road ones and whether it's going to cost you a small fortune or somewhere in the vicinity of $ 1000 to $ 5000.

Secondly, can you do any of the preparation work yourself? Before any car can be successfully repainted there is a fair amount of prep work involved and this is where a lot of the expense is incurred. If you have the time, the skills, the tools and the knowledge to do some of this work yourself you could save yourself quite a bit of money. If not, don't even attempt it because you may just create a mess that will cost you more money to have fixed.

What Contributes To The Cost To Paint A Car

Most of the costs involved in repainting a car can be narrowed down to two main components – the quality of the paint and the amount of prep work that needs to be done.

Paint Quality

Auto paint varies hugely in quality and cost so you really need to ask each repair shop what quality paint they use. At the top end of the scale are the expensive ones that usually have reduced chipping and peeling qualities, are very durable, don't fade as quickly and will withstand the elements for a good number of years. These types of paints can cost several hundred dollars a quart and usually come with a lifetime warranty.

More economical auto paints, such as those used by many of the middle range auto shops, still offer excellent value and quality for money. They're durable, have a reasonable life span on the vehicle, can withstand normal wear and tear and generally come with at least a few years guarantee.

At the bottom end are the cheap paints. These types of paints are rarely guaranteed to last, will chip and peel easily and fade relatively quickly. However, they're super cheap in comparison to better quality paints and may 'do' the job if you're just looking to smarten the car up for resale.

Preparation Work

This is the other big expense involved in the cost to paint a car. The old paint has to be sanded back from the entire area being painted, which in a total repaint job is the whole exterior of the car at least. Dents, bumps, rust and scratches have to be fixed before the new paint can be applied and this is labor intensive, time consuming work.

Things on the car like the windows, mirrors, lights, trim, door handles, bumpers, antennas, tires and spoilers also need to be removed or masked to avoid over spray damage. The more upmarket paint shops will often remove what can be removed to give a cleaner, more professional finish and only mask what they can't remove. Again, this is time-consuming work and so the costs mount up. Discount paint shops may cut costs here by simply masking everything rather than removing, resulting in a less professional look.

So the bottom line here is that if a good, clean, professional looking finish is what you're looking for, choose a quality painter.

General Price Ranges For Painting A Car

A bargain basement paint job can cost as little as a few hundred dollars – anywhere from $ 300 to $ 900. However, the paint will inevitably be generic, cheap synthetic enamel and there will only be a minimum number of coats applied. Some areas of the car, like under the hood and inside the doorjambs, may not be painted at all and protected areas will have likely just been masked rather than removed. Dents and damage to the paneling will probably simply be painted over rather than repaired first.

A better quality job will set you back somewhere between $ 1,000 to $ 2,500 depending on make and model of the vehicle, its condition and how much needs to be painted. The paint will be higher quality, usually brand named and there will be enough coats laid to create a quality finish, including several clear coats at the end to protect the colored paint and produce a glossy, smooth finish. More care and attention will be paid to protecting areas that aren't to be sprayed and to repairing panels prior to painting.

Right at the top end is the 'show-room quality' auto paint job, costing anywhere from $ 2,500 upwards depending on the model and make, vehicle condition and how much you want done. The vehicle will be prepped to within an inch of its life, including a complete sand back to bare metal. Every dent, scratch and bit of rust will be repaired if required and everything that is not to be painted that can be removed will be removed. Up to 18 to 20 layers of high quality professional brand name paint will be applied with another 6 to 8 clear coats applied over the top and you can expect the entire process to take a month or more to complete.