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The Perfect Paint Job

The Perfect Paint Job Published: 23rd Mar 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

The Perfect Paint Job
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Get that warm feeling of a new coat, and for a lot less than you think

  • For many restorers this is the one job where they’ll always look to a professional because a bad paint job will ruin everything that’s gone before it and also be a waste of effort and money. Sadly, to do it right costs thousands!
  • There are no short cuts to respraying because the final paint job is only going to be as good as what lurks underneath. A typical professional prep can take up to 100 man hours.
  • You can save a fair bit by doing as much of the prep and repair work yourself although bear in mind that the sprayer may not guarantee the finish as it didn’t do the prep, so it’s swings and roundabouts…
  • Obtain as many quotes as possible but obviously look for recommendations at the same time as a low price isn’t the be all and end all. Typically, a bare metal respray can range from £3000 to over ten grand depending on if you carry out the prep work or let the bodyshop do it all. A simple flat and ‘blow over’ can cost £1000, again depending upon the level of work the sprayer needs to carry out.
  • Before painting, offer up any new trim pieces etc for a dummy run fit. That way you know everything will fit properly – because last thing you want is for the new parts to cause damage to that lovely new paint job…
  • If you want to save a packet – do it yourself. There’s no reason that, if you use the appropriate paint, you can’t respray at home in a garage or under cover at least.
  • Respraying requires a goodsized garage or work area that needs to be clean, dustfree and properly vented; the latter a vital point when dealing with the likes of paint strippers and ‘Etch-primers’.
  • Cellulose is the oldest and the most suitable finish for ‘home use’ due to the less dangerous fumes it gives off, although you still require a proper protective mask. Alas, this type of paint is becoming harder and more expensive to obtain.
  • As there is no need for a top lacquer coat, you simply apply as many coats as you desire before cutting back with a compound and finishing with a polish. Many still prefer this trad finish as it isn’t over glossy so perhaps more in keeping with the era of the classic being sprayed. Furthermore, it’s much easier to touch in.
  • Two-pack offers top results straight ‘from the gun’ plus it requires little burnishing afterwards and the finish is much tougher than cellulose. The downside is that it cannot be applied at home without special breathing apparatus (although people have done it) using a separate air supply. It is also harmful to the environment so watch that you don’t run the risk of prosecution.
  • Water-based paints have taken over bodyshops because it offers similar standards of finish yet is kinder to the environment. Two-pack generally requires a lacquer which is where a lot of the ‘danger’ lies to you and the environment if you don’t possess the right protective equipment.
  • An alternative is a ‘2K’ high gloss base paint that doesn’t need a lacquer. It goes on like cellulose but has the gloss of two-pack. However, it requires flattening and polishing like cellulose (no bad thing) and some say that, without the protective lacquer, prone to fading unless regularly treated to compounding and polishing – again no bad thing. Speak to a paint expert for best advice before deciding.
  • Before you sneer at brush painting, it’s actually keeping in period with some eras. So long as the preparation is thorough and a good selection of brushes are used, the finish can be entirely acceptable. Plus it requires less masking, is cleaner, doesn’t require a mask – and can be a heck of a lot cheaper; an important point on cheap classics worth less than their respray!
  • In theory, you can respray just using simple aerosols, but if you do this, opt for the larger panel spray cans that professional body shops rely upon (contact one or a paint supplier for details). Like brush painting, the finished product is only as good as the preparation – but in the right hands, there’s no reason why an aerosol can’t achieve the same quality as an average respray yet work out appreciably cheaper. Typically 10-15 cans will sufficiently cover an average saloon. If you don’t mind the colour, you often see bulk bought cans at autojumbles selling for just a few quid.


There are several types of spraying equipment on the market which even includes DIY electric-powered guns which, while inexpensive, can achieve a perfectly good finish. That said, most guns are air-fed via a separate compressor. Some folks advocate buying a compressor to power the spray gun because it also doubles up to power air tools (always worth having). You can pick a compressor up for under £200 (and a lot less second-hand) but ensure it has a 50-litre tank as anything less won’t have enough in reserve to spray a complete car.


You can save a fair chunk of money by preparing the shell yourself. Paint stripping requires special paint stripper (always use gloves and a breathing mask when doing this) and is a thankless laborious job but it certainly will save you a fair chunk of money. Even if you don’t want a bare metal respray, making good the body and flattening it down will save you money. An alternative is to have the body blasted by a variety of substances such as sand, soda etc or chemically dipped and primed. Or you can try thermal stripping ( When masking up, refrain from using newspaper as the ink can react to the paint plus when it gets wet makes life doubly difficult. Proper masking (brown) paper is the answer. Similarly, always use good quality masking tape and not some of the cheap rubbish you sadly find at autojumbles!

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