Spray Painting Tips for Candy Colors

by Don Kress
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Candy paint jobs, unlike standard or metallics, require a mid-coat to be applied over a base coat on the vehicle. With careful preparation, the process is quite simple. Without that preparation, painting with candy color paints can be an intimidating and altogether frustrating experience that isn't worth the aggravation. Whenever possible, candy paint jobs should be applied within the confines of a sealed-atmosphere paint booth to prevent debris from getting into the candy or clear top coat.

Prepare the Vehicle Properly

Preparation of the vehicle for applying candy coat paint isn't different from applying regular paint. Use a grey scratch pad to lightly scour the surface to ensure proper paint adhesion, and then thoroughly clean the entire paint surface with wax and grease remover. It's important to thoroughly clean the surface because any imperfections in the base coat will be magnified by the candy mid-coat. Once imperfections are in the mid-coat, they can't be repaired without stripping the paint down to the base coat and starting over again.

Spraying the Base Coat

Spray the base coat onto the vehicle. Use only the base coat prescribed by the paint manufacturer for use with that particular candy color. This allows you to match the color later--if you have to--without having to tint the base coat. Apply two coats of candy base to the vehicle to ensure proper coverage as well as to avoid having stripes in the paint. Allow the base coat to dry slightly and then use a tack rag on the surface to remove any dust or other debris that has settled on the paint.

Applying the Candy Coat

Apply the candy coat to the vehicle in two coats. It is best to spray the mid-coat in a sealed spray booth, if possible. If this is not feasible, take pains to keep the candy mid-coat clear of dust or particles that may become lodged between the clear top coat and the candy coat. Allow the mid-coat to dry according to the instructions found on the paint can before applying the clear top coat.

Applying the Clear Top Coat

Spray the clear top coat onto the vehicle after using a tack rag to gently sweep away any dust or other contaminants from the paint surface. Apply three moderately heavy coats of clear top coat to the vehicle to seal in the candy mid-coat. This allows you enough room to sand and buff the surface without danger of breaking through the clear and damaging the candy coat.

Final Sanding and Buffing

Sand the clear top coat after it has fully dried using 1000-grit wet/dry sandpaper with water and then with 1500-grit sandpaper with water. Keep a dry rag handy to dry off the surface of the clear coat. Remove most of the orange peel, or texture from the surface, but not all of it. Orange peel helps reduce scratches in the surface of the vehicle. After sanding, apply polishing compound to an orbital buffer and buff away the sand scratches until the candy paint job no longer appears hazy.

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