Optical orgasms – Vehicle Painting 

Assuming that you have had all of the body work completed. Here is a guide to what you will require to achieve painting a vehicle yourself. Read here about the acrylic and two pack information.


A clean and dust free work environment when spraying, well away from children, pets and heat sources. Efficient and clean spray equipment and tools. A continuous supply of clean rags and tack rags for wiping down surfaces to be painted. Do not re-use rags over and over. Always use regulation spray masks, not dust masks. Ample ventilation. A clean project (vehicle) free from grease, dust, hand marks, etc. prior to application of any coatings. Do not use bargain store tools. Spend extra time on all stages of project, do not set unachievable time targets. Read all manufacturers carefully prepared data before proceeding. You can do it! Take the challenge, you won’t believe the satisfaction and the money saved. 

It is strongly recommended that the use of high quality sprayguns and painting accessories when applying any high performance paint coating such as are detailed in all manufacturers data. So called “Bargain Store” units, old worn guns, etc are to be avoided completely. If your gun/parts supplier cannot offer a 12 months warranty or 12 months replacement warranty, the quality should be challenged.

I won’t go into detail of the advantages and disadvantages of acrylic and two pak enamel, but for a home painter I will talk about acrylic here. The putty, say a two pak hi fill should be baked or left for a month or two to cure totally, so you end up with very minimal shrinkback at a later date. The final rubbed back product should be 600 grit wet for acylic finishes or 800 grit wet for two pak enamel. 

Acrylic has an ease of application for anyone demanding a showroom appearance. Finish coats are available in all manufacturers coded colours. Available in metallic and pearl coatings. No messy two-pack mixing. No baking required unlike two-pack automotive finishes. Thoroughly recommended for the backyard enthusiast or restorer. 

Description & Directions – If you are using a premium quality single pack acrylic lacquer you will get excellent gloss direct from the gun. Formulated for the repair or refinishing of all vehicles. that have been previously finished in baked enamels, acrylic lacquers and baked acrylic lacquers. Unlike many automotive lacquers no thinners are added at the point of colour mixing, allowing a more generous paint coverage when applied. A compressor unit producing 8CFM or more is required to apply successfully. Use premium or AAA thinners when thinning. Do not apply over nitrocellulose lacquers or air drying enamels. 

The paint should be thourougly stirred. If you are using metallics or pearls, when you think the paint is fully stirred, then you should stir for a few more minutes so the constituents of the can are evenly stirred. Buy your thinners in a drum with a tap so the job is a lot easier. You will need about three times more thinner than paint/ primer so that you have extra for cleaning etc. Only buy the best premium grade thinners, as the results will be worth it. Always use the recommended thinning ratio of paint to thinner. Don’t fill the pot to the very top though, as it may leak out as you paint. A retarder should be used in very hot and humid conditions. 

Most finishes require 45-50 psi at the gun, so set your regulator for about 25% more. Always use a filter/ regulator on the compressor. Most standard finishing guns can spray primers, colour coats, clear etc. Check the sealing washer between the pot and the gun doesn’t leak. If so replace. Beware of hired or loaned guns. With a spraygun you will get what you pay for, but make sure you are getting the right gun for your needs. Maybe get a spraypainter friend to help you choose one. Check the two adjusters for fan and material work by screwing them in and out, and noticing the change in the spray pattern. High pressure will create heavy overspray, paint waste and orange peel or spatter finish. Spray pattern length around 9-12 inches. Gun-around 8 inches from work surface. Practice on a sample panel to get the feel of these adjustments. If you have never painted before, it will take a lot of practice to get the hang of it. If it is only a quick respray on an old bomb, then all the better to practice on. 

Apply three double header coats, allowing 10 minutes dry time between coats. Each coat should be extended beyond the edge of the previous coat and blended into surrounding finish. Paint about eight coats of colour, making the last couple really wet. Mist coat to assist the blend. Any metallic colours should be allowed one hour drying under normal conditions prior to application of up to two double header coats of clear acrylic. Can also be applied over the normal solid colour range to add extra depth of colour and protection. 

Always clean the gun by running through about 30 seconds of thinners. These thinners can be sprayed onto a rag to clean the outside of the gun. Remember clean, clean, clean. At the end of the day you will only get out of the job what you put into it. Let the paint dry for a couple of days at least, preferably a couple of weeks, and you are ready for cutting and polishing. There you have it.