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Car Spray Painting Process: Step by Step

How to Paint a Car

Below you will see how we respray a car step by step. This article is for informational purposes only and any car painting should be done by a qualified car spray painter or panel beater. The article gives a basic outline of some of the steps we take to give cars a brand-new paint job.

Step 1: Preparation

Step 1.1: Remove the Trim

We remove chrome or plastic trim on the vehicle, as it can be difficult to mask during the painting process. Removing door handles, mirrors, headlights, etc. can also make the masking process easier.

Tools and Consumables Required

Trim pad remover, panel tools, heat gun, screw drivers


Step 1.2: Repair the Dents

In this step, we use hammers and dollies to repair the dents and return the car body to its original shape. We then use body filler and an orbital sander to smooth out the car body for a smooth finish.

Tools and Consumables Required

Hammers, dolleys, pin dent pulling machine, orbital sander, body filler / putty

Step 2: Sanding

Step 2.1: Sanding Down to Bare Metal

To sand the car down to the bare metal, we will be using an orbital sander. This tool allows for quick and efficient removal of the car's paint. This step can take several hours to complete, but it is crucial to ensure a smooth final paint finish.

Tools and Consumables Required

Orbital Sander


Step 2.2: Clean and Degrease

After sanding, it is important to clean the car's body to remove any dust and debris. To do this, we will use a wet cloth to wipe down the car's surface. We will then use a degreaser to clean away any oil or grease on the car's bare metal.

Tools and Consumables Required

Cloth, degreaser


Step 2.3: Masking

Once the car is clean and degreased, we will move it into a spray booth. In this step, we will mask off any parts of the car that will not be painted. This can include the headlights, car windows, and other areas, using masking tape, plastic sheeting, and newspaper.

Tools and Consumables Required

Masking tape, plastic sheeting, newspaper

Step 3: Priming

Step 3.1: Applying Paint Primer

Here we apply 2 - 3 coats of paint primer, allowing about 20 min – 1 hour time between each coat of primer to cure. Between each coat, we sand out any rough spots or blemishes.

Tools and Consumables Required

Spray gun, spray booth, paint primer, fine grit sandpaper, cloth


Step 3.2: Let the paint primer cure

Once we apply the paint primer, we wait an hour or two to allow the primer to cure. Curing times vary so it is best to look at manufacturer recommendations.


Step 3.3: Sanding

We use a very fine grit of sandpaper to sand out any blemishes or rough spots. We sand the primer lightly with a very fine grit of sandpaper.

Tools and Consumables Required

Fine grit sandpaper


Step 3.4: Wipe and Degrease

Here we give the car a quick wipe with a degreaser to ensure no dust or oil is on the primer. This is the final step of preparation before painting.

Tools and Consumables Required

Cloth, degreaser

Step 4: Car Spray Painting

Step 4.1: Spray Painting

At this stage, the car is ready for painting. Here we apply 3 - 4 coats of paint, allowing about 20 - 30 minutes of drying time between each coat.

Tools and Consumables Required

Spray gun, spray booth, car paint


Step 4.2: Sanding

Once the final coat of paint has been applied and dried, we look for any blemishes and will sand it down with a super fine grit of sandpaper and wipe it down.

Tools and Consumables Required

fine grit sandpaper


Step 4.3: Clear Coat

We will apply a clear lacquer coat 1 - 2 times ensuring every part is covered so that the paint is fully protected.

Tools and Consumables Required

Spray gun, spray booth, clear coat


Step 4.4: Buffing and Polishing

At the final stage, we buff your car using an orbital buffing machine to give your car's paint job a nice and shiny mirror-like finish.

Tools and Consumables Required

Buffing machine, polish