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Preparing to Paint - Any Advice?

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Sheet metal work is just finishing up on my 77 so I'm getting ready for paint and I'd like to know my plan is decent before I commit myself any further.


Car will be a driver, so I'm not looking for a showroom finish, just something nice enough to make me look back whenever I leave it in a parking lot.


I don't have a paint color picked out, but I want white. Currently the plan is to use Summit's single-stage pure white. The hope is it will be easier for a beginner like me to spray and I can easily repair any mistakes or damage.


Planned sequence:

1. Strip - get the car sanded to a good base with 80 grit. Feather any cracks or chips so I don't get flaking, and fully remove any questionable material.

2. Filler - Thinking of Summit again here, their "Lightweight Autobody Filler" is $17/gal. I've watched a few videos on filler and it looks like you do a nice thin skin and then block sand it back flat again.

3. Epoxy primer - Seal the whole car, inside and out. I understand I can do this before or after filler, but I think I want to do it after. I already have a gallon of this and catalyst.

4. High build primer?

5. Base coat - Single stage, so the clear/base are effectively one.

6. Color sanding - Sand up to 2000grit and then buff/polish.


So a few questions:

Is the Summit "system" decent quality, or am I likely to regret using their stuff? Will the chosen color look good, or will it look like I fleet truck? Is the high-build primer step essential, or does it depend on the car? Anything I should change anything about my plan, use different products, do a different order?


I understand this is a lot of questions at once. I'm grateful for any amount of advice given.

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Well to answer the simple question, I recommend sourcing materials from your local auto paint supplier. They typically have a range of products depending on your budget, have plenty of advice, and might even be cheaper depending on the quality you desire. Plus you can run out and pick up another can when you need it.


A small book can be written for each of the 6 topics above but it is possible to teach yourself. Just don't underestimate the time it takes to learn a skill and then apply it to a whole car. I think I spent close to 250 hours on the first car I painted. Painting is the easy part. You can spend 2 years prepping and 4 hours painting.  Most shops will paint really cheap if you do all the prep and supply materials. 


Without going into too much depth, I would say don't strip unless you need to and you feel the foundation is not stable enough.  I paint my race cars white with $40/gal industrial paint and they look great. But I wouldn't say white is easier than any other color to spray.

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OK thanks, that's really helpful. I understand the advice about not stripping it, and I'm staying far away from any chemical strippers, but there was some choice bodywork by previous shops that demanded the bare metal treatment. I'm avoiding it where the foundation is still good (not many places).


I know it's a lot of information at once, and the prep is definitely where I plan to spend most of my time, effort and money. I might even have a shop do the final coats since I don't have any arrangements for a paint booth, but that's still a way off.


As far as the general sequence of things, does that seem sane?


And when painting a car inside and out, should I treat them as separate jobs or just spray it all in one go? The inside will be receiving significantly less prep and attention, since most will be covered. No glass or interior during painting.

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Thanks for that link, that's a great looking resource. Any particular reason to recommend filler after epoxy versus the reverse? I have a white epoxy primer so I was sort of hoping to have that directly under the paint for a bit of extra brightness in the final product.

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I've reviewed that PPG painting guide as well as a few more forums and I think I have a more solid game plan now.


0. Finish metalwork (this was sort of implied, but I'll add it here)

1. Strip, sand, grind, etc

2. Epoxy primer to seal metal

3. Filler/blocking

4. primer surfacer/more sanding

5. Seal coat of reduced epoxy

6. Base coat

7. Finish work


For anyone curious, the reason epoxy is recommended before filler is because the filler is porous and can trap moisture against the bare metal, causing eventual rust under your paint. Epoxy first ensures the metal lasts as long as it possibly can. I want a tough, uniform color underneath my base coat in case of scratches or rock chips, so I'm going to reduce the epoxy and apply it as a sealer right before I shoot color, which should give me what I want while still giving me the most durable foundation possible.

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On 6/14/2018 at 11:49 AM, Sam280Z said:

I recommend filler after epoxy. Read the following:



Even if you don't use PPG products, it's a good resource on the steps from stripping to painting.


Another good resource is: https://www.autobody101.com/forums/




Thanks for posting this! Great info.

Now, instead of getting work done, I read the entire thing. 

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