Having a scratch on your car is a nightmare! When they occur they compromise the entire car’s paintwork, however scratches are not only eye sores, they can also decrease the value of your car. In many cases having paintwork restoration work performed by professionals seems excessively expensive. Utilising spray paint to disguise a scratch on your car’s paintwork, provides an effective and low cost means of restoring your car to its former glory.
To have your car looking as good as new with spray paint needn’t be hard, simply follow our ten step process beneath.
The best way to obtain an exact match of your car’s paint colour is to look in the manual. Within here you should find the exact factory paint code, if you are unable to find the paint code within the manual then asking a local dealership or car parts shop should provide the answers.
Failing this, a number of dedicated spray paint retailers provide a colour matching service. This enables for an exact match of your car’s colour to be obtained, even if the paintwork on the body is faded or has lost some of its gloss due to aging.
Even though you may be convinced that you have obtained an exact match of your car’s colour it is best to test it to make sure. There is nothing worse than finding out that your spray paint does not match the colour of the car’s bodywork following application. This is something to be aware of, especially with spray paint, as these cans often contain mixed paint, therefore results can vary.
Even if you have obtained the exact match of your car’s factory paint code, it may not match the coating of your car’s bodywork as it may have changed slightly due to factors associated with the aging process, such as becoming lighter due to exposure to sunlight. Again testing it prior to application will avoid disappointment.
Once you are satisfied that your spray paint matches the colour of your car’s bodywork, you are ready to prepare the scratch and the area surrounding it for recoating. The first stage in this process is to clean the scratched area. In order to do this you will need a cloth, mild soap and some water. Then, gently clean the scratch and surrounding area using the cloth, ensure that it is damp but not overly wet.
Cleaning the scratched area is important, as when you seal the scratch during the painting process you do not want to trap any dirt. Equally, you do not want to trap any moisture in the scratch either, which can actually compromise the coating, therefore it is important to ensure that following cleaning the scratch is allowed to dry naturally. The best way to do this is by cleaning the scratch the night before you intend to spray paint over the scratch so that it can dry overnight.
To do this you will require a can of spray based degreaser and a clean rag. Take the rag and apply degreaser to it, then apply gently to the scratched area. This will ensure that any grease or wax which may have entered the scratch is removed.
In order to complete this process you will require a toothpick. Take it and gently run it along the edges of the scratch. If you find any loose paint during this process, gently push it off using the toothpick. This process is essential, as in order to provide the best results, it is imperative that the spray coating is applied to a fixed, static foundation.
For this step you will require a sheet of sandpaper, if the scratch is small you will also require a pencil. In the case of small scratches we advise you create a “sanding pencil”. This can be achieved quickly and easily, take a sheet of 1200 grit wet and dry sandpaper, then punch a hole in the sandpaper. Glue the dot of sandpaper which is produced to the blunt or eraser end of a pencil using rubber cement. For the best results, allow the cement to dry overnight prior to use.
In the case of larger scratches, then simply use a section of 1200 grit wet and dry sandpaper which is of an appropriate size. In both cases, take the sandpaper and wet it slightly, then gently rotate of the scratched area until smooth.
This time cleaning should be done using a foam swab and denatured alcohol. Take the swab and dip it lightly in the alcohol, then apply to the scratched area in gentle circular motions. Ensure that the area is allowed to dry properly before proceeding.
If not metal is exposed as a result of your scratch then this step is not required. In cases where metal is exposed then you will require a toothpick and some primer. Application of the primer is simple, take the toothpick and gently dip it into the primer. Then place the toothpick in the centre of the exposed metal area, allow the primer to run from the toothpick until it fills the exposed metalwork.
Ensure that enough primer is used to fill the exposed metal, whilst ensuring that you don’t apply too much. Too much primer has been used if it begins to overflow at the sides and edges of the scratch. Once satisfied, the primer should be allowed to dry for between 2 to 3 hours.
Prior to the application of spray paint, further preparation is required to prevent overspray. If not prepped correctly, overspray can result in paint on areas of the car where it is not desired, such as alloys, mirrors and windows.
In order to protect the car from overspray, take some newspaper and tape. Apply the newspaper to the areas susceptible to overspray, use tape to hold it in place. If the area is too small to be effectively covered in this way, just use tape.
Once the car has been sufficiently protected from overspray you are ready to apply the spray paint. When using spray paint, the most effective process of application is short bursts in a side to side motion. This process not only prevents paint from building up it also prevents excess paint from overrunning on the edges, to provide a nice even coating.
Do not worry about trying to cover the entirety of the scratch during the first coating. Some of the grey primer may still show following the first coat, this is fine. Prior to applying the first coating wait for the advised time, as shown on the side of the paint can, this is usually 10-15 minutes. Once this time has passed apply a second coating, some primer may still show, this is fine.
The key is to apply a number thin, even coatings, it is important to take your time. Heavy coatings can undermine the whole process leaving your car looking messy and uneven.
Once you have allowed the final coating to dry it is time to finish it. This involves two stages, the first of which is to use a sanding block to level the coating, this should be done using a 2000-2500 grit paper, using the technique as outlined in step 6.
The second stage of this step is to buff the area using polish. This can be achieved using a machine, or using polish and a clean cloth gently applied to the area in circular motions.
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