Step 2: Prep Work

Picture of Prep Work
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Once all of your materials are in line you can begin the paint prep process. First and foremost, you need a large, clean area to do the paint work in. Living in a townhouse community I was a little shy on space, but I was able to make it work. I did the majority of the prep work in my driveway, and did all of the painting I could in the garage. I laid a few coats down in the driveway, but there you are exposed to all sorts of dust, leaves, dirt, etc.

First, wash the car and all pieces to be painted real well to remove any loose dirt. (Pic 1)

Next, remove anything from the car that you can, this will help avoid the possibility of getting paint on things you don't want it on. This is to include headlights, tail lights, trim pieces and more depending on the car. (Pic 2) I took off my bumpers and side mirrors as well. The bumpers because they have a few "style indents" in them that I wanted to be able to paint in a horizontal manner as opposed to vertically while mounted to the car. The side mirrors I painted as well so having them off of the car made that a lot easier. I also removed my body kit pieces as not to drip on them while I painted the car itself. I guess what you need to remove will be personal preference depending on your painting style and needs. Once everything is removed, you can really get to work.

Everything that is going to be painted needs to be wet sanded with 600 grit sand paper. This will help to further remove any impurities from the paint's surface giving you a clean slate to work with. Move down to 400 grit if you have a problem area. Make sure to use a sand paper designed for wet use. Once the sanding is complete you will need to look for any spots where the paint has chipped off or the sanding has exposed some of your base metal. If you find any, spray them with a quick coat of the spray primer. This will help make sure you have a nice even looking finished product. It will also help to ensure the finished paint resists cracking and peeling from the damage to the old paint. Of course, if you have any body work you need done, now would be the time to do it. (Pic 3)

Any trim pieces that do not easily remove you can tape up with the painter's tape. Make sure to double check your tape job before you begin. You do not want to be in the middle of painting and realize you did not tape something up! (Pic 4)
wonkette5 years ago
2 questions:
We have a beater car that we want to improve the look.

1) Were you limited by the choice of colors from Rustoleum?
We were considering buying a professional series of Urethane BaseCoat/ClearCoat system, but was priced at between $240 (TCP Global) - $700 (PPG)

2)  Do you need to topcoat with a clear coat? We live near the ocean and the salt air is causing the clear coat to peel on our current car. I suppose if you paint with a one-stage system, you don't need clear coat at all, so nothing to peel off? But doesn't the clear coat make things last longer?

Clear coat didn't seem to work on your car, so why would you think it would make paint last longer? It's only necessary in a clearcoat/basecoat system.

I'm a pro painter of 40+ years...it's likely that the peeling clear coat on your car was a waterborne formula. They've got these to where they last 5 years and that's it.

Rust-O-Leum is paint I love to hate, but after seeing this Instructable, I've got to give kudos to the author. Tip: stay away from dark colors. Also, there are many high-gloss enamel paints with high pigment content that would also work. Rust-O-Leum is known to be brittle once dried, and stone-chips easily!
Styluss (author)  cardesnr993 years ago
Thanks for the props! And I am happy to say that there is no more chipping than you would see on any car with standard automotive paint.
Styluss (author)  wonkette5 years ago
1. Yes. However I have seen people mix Rustoleum colors to get the color they desired. And if you are even considering buying the fancy paints... I dotn think this paint application process if for you. go somewhere and have them do it right. You did say it is a beater car after all...

2. I am not a paint savvy person. All I know is that I have had Rustoleum on my car now for 2 Colorado winters... no issues. I do not have any sort of clear coat on my car. It is simply Rustoleum.
ursan Styluss4 years ago
My local ACE hardware sells Rustoleum and they can add pigment to the white paint to make it almost any color.

I bought a gallon and the matched the color for my when I removed the gas door from my car (cleaned it, polished it) All they did was scan it and they add the pigment. For my car is was 4 units of chroma yellow, 1 part blue and 1 part red. My car is an off white cream color and it matched fairly well.
vcsekhar7 years ago
For those who are hesitant on removing all the no-paint parts, I guess 1) sticking a self-adhesive Vinyl sheet(similar to those they sell in dollar shops) 2) cutting off unwanted danglings from the stickered sheet would be a lot easier because after the paint , we can just peel off the vinyl sheet and more over the adhesive wouldn't stick to the bumper etc..we just need to clean it again to remove any little adhesive traces. any comments?
You know, Saran Wrap works nicely for smaller areas and with your method of covering, there might not be any need to remove much of anything.
chriskarlo5 years ago
Great tip! Can this paint be used on fibreglass bodywork? I have a peely Renault Espace (a godawful thing, worst car I have ever owned - click this http://image.nettiauto.com/extra/carimg/2771401_2771500/renault-espace-2771485_b_313e9264e7ae1066.jpg) and this has an almost entirely fibreglass body. Many thanks.
Styluss (author)  chriskarlo5 years ago
You know, I am not sure if it can be used on fiberglass or not. Honestly, I dont see why not. But you may want to seek out someone with a pocitive answer before you commit to the project.
shortw5 years ago
I painted a van with Rustoleum blue paint a long time ago , but first off the paint stayed sticky for a long time and second after a while it developed a white dull hace. Is there a way to avoid this? I used a small roller to put it on and it worked really good.
Styluss (author)  shortw5 years ago
Did you not thin out the paint first? That would make it stay sticky for quite a while as it dries. The dull haze I cant speak for. I have had this paint on my car for almost three years now and it is still shiny.
shortw Styluss5 years ago
No , I did not thin out the paint. Like I said that was years ago, besides the hace the paint was good for many years until I sold the van. Thank you so much for the info and for your quick reply. I don't have a car or anything else to paint right now, but if that happen I will try again and I will use your directions and your instructables. You done a very good job.
yocornflake5 years ago
I saw this instructable and decided i would do it, it was a on the fly decision and have been progressing relatively well.  I have a few concerns however,  right now i am finishing up my wet sanding and have noticed that the sanding isnt very uniform, it appears that all areas have been sanded but some areas are sanded more than others.  My question is how can you tell if the area is sanded enough to allow the area to hold the paint well?

Also i am painting the vehicle yellow but want to add a few black stripes to it, can i just paint these right over the yellow rustoleum/mineral spirits paint without sanding or other prep work?
It's best if you paint your stripes first, and then mask them off and do the paint over them.
I would recommend painting the stripes right over the base coat. If you paint your stripes on within 18 to 24 hours of the basecoat application, it will create a chemical bond. If not, you could rough the surface with a 3M scuff pad to allow for a mechanical bond. I do high-end custom paint jobs, and this is how I shoot graphics. It would be really difficult to paint on stripes and mask around them for the basecoat.

Anyhow, have fun and don't be afraid to be creative. I started out with Rustoleum and tried to shoot it with a paint gun (not smart). This brush-on method is a great idea. I started with a home-made shed and eventually built a custom body shop. I closed it 2 years ago, but hoping to start another one. Wanna see how extreme this can get? Check out my custom 1992 Lumina. I bought this car for $800. Look how overboard I went ---> http://carltonzone.com/blog/my-1992-lumina-project/

(yes, I am a Chip Foose Wannabe!)

Write back if you have any questions, I'd be glad to advise.

Styluss (author)  yocornflake5 years ago
As for your sanding... Really, as long as the surface has been roughed up a bit, you should be fine. There really is no need to go crazy with the sanding. I think I had my entire car sanded in well under a day's time. you just want to make sure to take off the top layer of old paint and settled in dirt that digs in over time. You'll be surprised at how the paint looks even after simply sanding it.

As for the stripes... well, I have never done that so..... one would think you can paint them right over the yellow with no issue. If anything, just use some painters tape to mark off your lines and then paint'em up!
jake096 years ago
I have 1982 bmw ihad to take all the way to bare metal on hood,trunk,roof because it had pits all over them should I still mix mineral spirit to the priemer
Styluss (author)  jake096 years ago
You should not mix mineral spirits with the primer, ever. That is no where in this write up. Unless you are using a rustoleum primer I guess. I would still thin the paint of course.