Auto Paint Application Methods

Is it time for a new car paint job? Auto paint application involves several stages and follows a series of procedures under controlled environments to ensure a sleek finish. All automotive paint types follow similar procedures with slight variations.

Experts first begin by arranging the body parts which is in the form of metal sheets into a temporary assemblage. This is usually called the body in white (BIW), which is painted and baked in controlled temperatures and undisturbed surroundings.

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Read More: 6 Key Tips for How to Paint a Car

Common Steps for Auto Paint Application

The common steps for auto paint application on the BIW are:

1. Surface Preparation

To start, first ensure that the auto paint adheres to the substrate. In order to do that, the BIW must be washed with high-pressure water jets to remove all impurities such as oil, grease, chalk, and ink marks from the substrate surface. Also, prior to applying the paint, you’ll need to remove any rust, sanding, cleaning, and will need to prime of the surface to ensure good adhesion of the paint.

2. Priming

The next step is priming the surface of the car. Just before a paint layer is applied, the BIW is dipped in a primer solution for even application of the primer. The primer is essential to create an even surface including microscopic textures for the following coats and also is used to protect the BIW from rusting.

3. Base Coat Application

Next is the base coat application. Usually, 3 coats of the base coat are needed for a rich deposition of the pigment onto the BIW. Each layer is dried thoroughly before painting a new layer on top. The base coat dries to a flat finish in most paint types.

4. Clear Coat Application

The base coat is concentrated with pigments and is prone to attack by UV and other chemicals. The clear coat is a clear lacquer layer that is applied to the base coat to protect the pigments and to provide a glossy finish to the BIW.

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Types of Automotive Paint

Read More: 4 Life-Saving Steps to DIY Car Painting

3 Auto Paint Application Techniques

The process of paint application is the same for almost all paint types. Depending on the paint manufacturers and the nature of the paint and finish required, there are various paint application techniques that are widely used in the auto paint industry.

Choosing the right paint application method can be based on your budget constraints, the kind of finish you require for your car and the resources you have access to for completing the paint job efficiently. Check out our Single Stage Automotive Paint Kits to see all our fast-drying auto paint application options.

Auto Paint Application #1: Spraying

Spraying is the most economical and preferred technique for auto paint application. It has different types of spraying methods that are predominantly used in the industry. Below are the different types of auto paint application methods:

Air Atomized Spray

This is a conventional spraying technique that’s used across the industry for its flexibility in the application. With this auto painting method, the setting for the spray gun can be adjusted based on the requirements. The pressurized mist is sprayed onto the substrate evenly and works effortlessly for paint application. As this technique uses compressed air mixed with liquid paint to produce a pressured mist, it can be hazardous for workers increasing harmful airborne chemicals content. For your protection, ensure you maintain a ventilated environment for working with this technique!

Airless Spray

The paint is directly forced out of a narrow opening to create pressure, without using compressed air. This technique requires precision and skill, but does not cause loss of material like the Air Atomized spraying technique does. This method is often used for larger auto paint jobs and provides a more efficient and cost-effective alternative when compared with traditional spray painting.

Electrostatic Spray

This technique requires expertise and precision, but is highly efficient in saving material loss and even coating. The paint particle is charged with high voltage which is attracted to the body part with increased transfer efficiency. This is a modern technique that requires expert assistance as it can cause fire hazards in uncontrolled environments. It can also be used only with specific paints with specific compositions with a specific conductivity.

High Volume, Low Pressure

This method offers higher transfer efficiency. HVLP equipment propels large quantities of low-pressure air to the gun applicator and yields lesser overspray and blowback, reducing the amount of wasted paint. HVLP spraying is a good choice since it is a more environmentally friendly option than traditional spray painting. It’s also great for producing a high-quality, smooth finish.

Read More: 6 Common Auto Car Paint Problems & Cures

Auto Paint Application #2: Brushing

With this traditional paint application method, the paint is brushed onto the substrate using a brush.

This is usually used to repair finishes and not to paint the entire body of the car. Keep in mind that this method has a risk of uneven surfaces and brush strokes to the finished surface, which may not look as smooth as an air spray or dipping finish.

In addition, this is a slower process than spray painting.

However, it can be useful for small touch-up jobs in smaller areas, or for applying paint in hard-to-reach areas of your vehicle.

Read More: 5 Major Threats to Your Car Paint

Auto Paint Application #3: Dipping

Lastly, let’s talk about dipping.

Dipping is an auto paint application method predominantly used to coat the entire area of a body part. This technique requires the least expertise – the part is simply dipped in a primer solution or a coating solution and taken out and hung to dry.

The larger parts require larger tanks for dipping which is the major drawback of the method.

Dipping is best suited to apply protective layers on smaller parts.

Read More: What is Automotive Paint Made Of? 10 Tips to Maintain It

Summary of Auto Paint Application

Is your car showing signs of needing a new paint job? Various auto paint application techniques have evolved over time with new paint compositions and advancements.

Using the right application method that fits right into your requirements and budget, nature of the finish, type of paint and coat can greatly improve and enhance your overall automotive paint job.

If applicable (your vehicle was in an accident), here are 3 things to know before approaching your insurance company for a repainting.

Contact Us

Read more on the different types of auto paint or crucial painting tips here. Or, shop Paint For Cars online to get great competitive prices on quality car paint!

As always, please reach out to our knowledgeable team with questions about auto paint application.

Further Reading:

DIY Car Paint & Paint Equipment