Auto Collision Repair & Auto Body Paint Services
One of the most time-consuming and expensive projects you’ll ever perform on your automobile is to either paint it yourself or have it painted. Paint and bodywork have long been considered an art more than a mechanical procedure. A good paint job is certainly the result of many hours spent welding, sanding, and preparing the body for paint. In fact, rather than the common misconception that a “paint job” is a single step process, painting a car is really a multi-step process that leads up to the actual painting of the car.
Auto Body Repair Process
The first step to a great looking paint job that will last is having a solid, rust-free foundation to work from. Rust is a common term for the process of steel oxidizing and is normally caused by unprotected metal being exposed to water or water vapor. Adding salt to the process, as in salty roads in the winter or beach driving in the summer, only expedites the process and can quickly turn sheet metal into an ugly, flaking, rusty mess.
Auto Body Rust Repair
The best way to ensure that rust won’t return is to completely remove it from the car. This can be accomplished by removing the metal just in the rusty area and welding in patches, but extreme cases may require replacing the entire panel.
Auto Body Welding Process
Whether removing the metal due to a collision or due to rust, the methods are the same. Cut out the affected area, fabricate or purchase a patch panel, fit the panel, and weld it in place. The welding process can be a trick in itself as the heat created in thin, sheet metal panels can cause distortion, leading to additional time spent straightening the welded-in panels. Coating the panel with a heat-absorbing compound and stitch welding (welding short segments slowly) the panel are two ways to keep the panel from warping while being welded in place. An additional concern of welding is that moisture can be trapped inside any areas of porosity, leading to future rust problems. Priming the metal in a weld-through primer and sandblasting the area after being welded are two ways to ensure the area won’t rust in the future.
Auto Body Sanding and Paint Preparation
Block-sanding the vehicle is the critical step that makes the car’s panels look straight. The reason a block is used is to distribute the hand’s pressure evenly across the panel. Sanding without a block will leave finger grooves in the panel, which in turn will cause the panel to look wavy once painted. When choosing paint, a compromise must usually be reached between the quality desired and budgetary restraints. Most modern paints do a decent job of protecting the underlying metal, but cheaper paints can be less tolerant to sun, fading quickly if the car sits outside for any length of time.
Auto Body Painting
All new cars are painted in base/clear as it offers distinct advantages, such as protecting the pigment by adding ultraviolet blockers in the clear coat. Repairs of base/clear paint jobs can also be easier than single stage paint systems. The biggest advantage, however, of a base/clear paint job is the luster. By clear coating over the color, the paint job looks thicker and has a shinier appearance than most single stage paints. Also, rock chips and door dings are usually less apparent in base/clear paint jobs as the colored base coat is usually left intact. The actual process of painting is where experience pays off. An experienced painter knows how thick to apply the paint, and where areas prone to runs and fish eyes are and adjusts his technique appropriately. By following the instructions on the MSDS, an inexperienced painter can apply a good paint job, but experience is the key to consistent success.