How to Spray Paint a Car Using Rustoleum Paintsby William Zane
While painting a car with the conventional method of using a spray gun and a spray booth results in a terrific paint job, it is also expensive, time consuming and takes considerable skill and experience to get good results. Rustoleum makes a very durable spray paint that comes in a can and that can be sprayed onto a car for a decent finish. If you take your time and are very methodical, you can get good results for a fraction of the cost of a professional paint job.
Remove as much of the car's exterior trim as possible. This will result in less taping off and a better overall look for the finished paint job. Remove items like bumpers, grills and headlights.
Examine the body closely for dings and dents. Just about any used car is going to have a few dings, regardless of how straight the body is. Use a white pencil or something similar and circle all of the dings and dents.
For larger dents, use a hand dolly to work the metal from behind to restore the shape of the metal. If there is serious bodywork needed, you might want to have a professional shop fix it before painting, since bodywork requires special tools and knowledge.
Use a guide coat and a sanding block to find low and high spots in the bodywork. Spray on a light coat of primer and then sand with a sanding block, which will then show imperfections in the metal. Fill small dents with Bondo, sanding the Bondo once it has dried with 220-grit and then 400-grit sandpaper.
Fill any small pinholes or dings with spot putty, sanding with 220-grit and then 400-grit sandpaper.
Using masking tape and newspaper, tape off the windows and any trim that has not been removed and that you do not want to be painted.
Clean the entire car very well with mineral spirits. This is a very important step and it is necessary to remove any excess oils from the surface of the car before painting begins.
Apply a light dusting of primer to the car, working on one panel at a time. Let the primer dry and then spray on three or four coats of Rustoleum primer. Spray back and forth in smooth motions six to ten inches from the surface and do not apply the paint so heavily that it runs or sags. Getting the right coverage will take some experimenting. Wet-sand the primer with 220-grit and then 400-grit sandpaper between coats.
Spray on a light dusting of the color coat. Allow it to dry and then apply three to four coats. Rustoleum takes far longer to dry between coats than standard spray can paint, usually at least a few hours to overnight. Wet-sand each coat with 220-grit and then 400-grit sandpaper.
After the final coat is dry, wet-sand the final paint with 600-grit, 800-grit, 1200-grit and finally 1400-grit sandpaper. What you are sanding away is the orange peel, which is the textured finish of unsanded paint. The less orange peel, the better.
Let the paint dry overnight, then polish it using a high-speed buffer and rubbing compound.
Change the pad on the buffer and then use a machine glaze of polishing compound on the entire surface of the vehicle. Try not to buff sharp edges too hard with the buffer, as that will remove the paint. Focus instead on the flat areas of the body.
Give the paint a week or so to fully cure, and then wax it with a high-quality finish wax, using the high-speed buffer.
Reassemble any trim that was removed. For an even better look, paint any trim parts that are faded before they are put back on the car.
Things You'll Need
- Masking tape
- Mineral spirits
- Rustoleum spray primer
- Rustoleum spray paint
- 220-grit to 1400-grit sandpaper
- High-speed buffer
- Rubbing compound
- Machine glaze or polishing compound
- If you paint a car with Rustoleum paint and ever want to go back to conventional automotive paint, the entire car has to be stripped to bare metal because of the chemical reaction between the Rustoleum and normal paint.
William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.