Three Stages of Automotive Paint

by Horacio Garcia
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A good paint job involves the process of painting an automobile correctly. A three-stage paint job actually takes more than three processes with the exception of the final paint job. Calculating the stages of an automobile paint job includes the number of times the surface of the car is painted with a different color.


Preparing the surface of the automobile for painting is just as important as painting the car. Removing surface rust or any dent must happen before anything else. Utilize a suction cup to remove small dents and dent removing tool to straighten out larger dents. Once the dents pull back into place, use a filler to smooth out the surfaces. Polyester filler is the best filler to use when resurfacing the body of a car. After filler dries, use a fine sandpaper to smooth out the filler. Remove rust spots by sanding the rust completely from the surface of the body.


The next step in preparing a car for three-stage painting involves applying primer to the automobile. The primer allows the final painting to remain consistent in color over all surfaces of the automobile. The color of the primer varies, but is generally gray or black. Mask or tape the automobile to prevent primer from getting onto the windows or chrome of the car. Apply the primer over the entire surface of the automobile. It may take more than one coat of primer to ensure that all surfaces are prepared for final painting.

Stage Painting

Three-stage painting happens by first applying one color and then applying another color over top the first coat. The final stage is applying the clear coat, which seals the final paint job. For example, when painting a red metallic color, the first color applied is generally yellow, then red and finally a clear coat. Painters apply each color approximately two times to ensure the entire surface of the car receives an even distribution of the same color. Different automobile manufacturers utilize different mixes of colors to produce a particular blue, red, pearl white or other car color.


After the three-stage painting job is finished, the automobile requires 24 hours to completely dry. Metallic, flaking or sparkles will take longer to dry and become vibrant. A paint that has metal flakes or sparkles mixed into the color is considered metallic paint. The contours or curves of the body of the car are brought out dramatically with a metallic paint job. As the sun or light shines onto the surface of the automobile, the paint seems to change color or sparkle. The first two stages of the three-stage paint job include metal particles in the color applied when painting these stages. The clear coat used in stage three, brightens the surface of the automobile as well as seals the paint.

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