How To Sand a Car for Paint

Sanding is an important prep work for car painting. It takes away the old paint and primer so that the new coats will adhere well to the surface. Sanding a car takes a lot of hard work and time, so many car owners opt to have it done by professionals. But if you know you are capable of doing it yourself, why pay for professional service? To help you, here is a guideline.

  • Locate a good place to sand the car. You should do this in your garage or somewhere well-lit and -ventilated. There should also be plenty of space for you to move around. Make sure to line up all your tools in your work area, so you don’t have to periodically stop and leave the area to gather your tools.
  • Remove everything that needs to be removed. This includes trims, tail lights, and headlights. Anything that will obstruct your work or will make sanding difficult should be removed. Keep them all in a safe location. If necessary, put them in a box to prevent damages or losing any of them.
  • Apply fillers into the dents. Check your car for dents. If you see some, you have to even them out with fillers, no matter how small they are. You can use polyester filler for small dents and fiberglass filler for large ones. Make sure to apply thin coats into the dents, around 1/8 of an inch. Sand the dents down once the filler has hardened.
  • Decide how far you should go. The extent of sanding basically depends on the condition of your car. If it is rusty, you need to sand until the metal is exposed. But if the paint is only flaking, you don’t have to go deep down. You only need to remove the paint and leave the original undercoating. Similarly, the sandpaper to use depends on the extent of sanding. If you are going to bare the metal, you need 80-grit paper. If necessary, you might even have to use a power sander. Only make sure not to apply too much pressure on the car, as doing so can result in circle traces on the surface, which are likely to show up in the paint. If, however, the car doesn’t have to be sanded all the way through the undercoating, you need 150-grit to 320-grit sandpaper.
  • Begin the procedure. When everything is ready, you can now sand the car starting from one corner and work your way to the other parts. Make sure to be very thorough. You have to sand every area, including the hard-to-reach corners. If you leave even a tiny spot, the paint will not come out perfectly. Also, remember to sand in one straight direction. Sanding in circles won’t leave a good finish.
  • Inspect the surface. Once you are done sanding, check if there are parts that you have missed. Go over the trunk and all the way to the hood. You might have to check a couple of times to make sure that you have sanded the entire surface. After a thorough inspection, you can wash the car to remove dust particles. Dry it completely after.

Because sanding is a thorough procedure, it will take a few days to finish. So do this only if you have enough time. If you are in a haste to finish sanding, you need to get an assistant.


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