Full body paintwork is a job often left to the professionals and there are a great number of good reasons for this. It is not a simple or straight forward task and although this can be a DIY job, the results will never be as good as a professional job. The work and effort involved in full body paintwork is not to be underestimated, there is considerable laborious preparation plus the use of specific expensive equipment. Not to mention of course, suitable locations for both the preparation and spraying.
Preparing Your Bodywork for Spraying
A suitable workshop is needed, it must be well ventilated as well as dry and clean. The vehicle will need to be fully stripped down for a full body respray, all traces of old paint must be completely removed. The metal work will then be sanded down; this process produces large amounts of dust, appropriate safety gear should be worn to protect against inhaling fine metal dust. Having thoroughly sanded all over, the metal is prepared with a rust inhibitor.
Even more preparation will be needed if the respray is required due to damage to the car from a collision or bump, panel beating may be required (although this is a separate process) and then body filler may also be needed to smooth out any remaining dents, as even the slightest will stand out once the car has been resprayed. Body filler of the highest quality should always be used.
The next step is a thorough clinical clean of the whole vehicle, this is done to remove any oily residue. Oil leads to poor paint adhesion and ultimately bubbles and flakes.
Masking is the next task, any areas of the vehicle that are not to be painted must be completely covered. This is not as simple as it sounds, masking a vehicle properly can take a lot of time and attention to detail to ensure the paint only covers the areas you want it to. There are various different types of masking available that are either: dry masking (paper or plastic) or liquid masking.
Having masked up the vehicle well, the following step is to apply the primer. Primer provides an even neutral base coat. It also helps the coloured spray paint stick, coloured spray paint doesn’t stick well when applied directly to metal. The primer also protects the body of the vehicle, as colour spray paint when applied directly, can cause oxidation. Many body shops opt for a 2 part urethane primer – providing chemical protection against the corrosion process. Thorough inspection and further sanding may be needed to even any imperfections out. Note: Most body shops apply primer using a spray gun, therefore adequate safety precautions are needed to protect the sprayer.
The Spraying Process
The vehicle is now ready for spraying, this process is done in stages and requires a specific type of location as well as specialised equipment.
There are many different types of paint available, however the most widely used on the majority of modern vehicles is 2 Pack Acrylic Enamel, containing melamine and acrylic. It is popular due to its long lasting finish and damage resistant properties. It also contains highly toxic substances, and appropriate preventative safety measures must be taken to protect the sprayer. Other types of paint are usually the preferred choice for Classic Cars.
Spray Booths and Spray Rooms
A spray booth is an enclosed room specifically designed for spraying vehicles. They have a sophisticated ventilation and control system, specifically designed to dilute airborne concentrations as well as retaining the invisible paint mist that spreads like smoke across the whole room, when the spraying process begins. Spray booths usually contain a heating system, used to bake the paint or an infrared system, both are used to accelerate the drying process.
Health and Safety
Commonly used 2 Pack Acrylic Enamel spray paint contains various toxic components, among them Isocyanate – a substance used in its hardener. It poses serious health risks, and is one of the leading causes of occupational asthma in the UK. This paint should only be used in a professional spray booth/room with the sprayer using Air-Fed RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment). Inexperienced sprayers are often tempted to lift the visor whilst spraying, to check the paintwork, therefore exposing themselves to the toxic fumes.
Good spraying requires a high quality spray gun and an experienced professional to apply the paint evenly over the whole body. Paint is usually built up in various coats, with drying intervals between each coat. Spray booths use heating systems to bake the finished job or infrared to cure the paintwork, reducing the drying time. One the body is dry, it is then polished using high quality tools to achieve the best results and shine.
Full body resprays are an incredibly difficult thing to get right, and is best left to the professionals.