There are aspects of automotive technology that are undoubtedly intimidating and take years of practice to master. Without question, painting has always been considered an art, and laying down a quality paintjob on any vehicle is no exception. There are literally hundreds of factors and steps that go into a good paintjob, but their complicated and intricate details can be eased with a little education and care. Although our 4x4s may be scratched and creased by trees and cactus, dented and gouged by rocks and dirt walls, there’s no reason we can’t have them looking pretty at the trail head or learn a new skill set!
Being the lucky chaps that we are, we recently had the opportunity to hang out at the Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Training Center in Reno, Nevada. Sherwin-Williams has a number of schools in the U.S. that train and certify professional painters and the occasional enthusiast bent on honing his or her painting skills. We ducked in the facility for a few days between classes and received some one-on-one schooling by Clint Baker, the training center manager, and Robert Dinkel, the school’s training center specialist.
We were exceedingly impressed with the school, its equipment, the high caliber of training, and the knowledge they had to offer. The school was remodeled the week before we arrived, and we found it more sanitary than some hospitals and superior to our usual home garage spray booths. This brings up two cornerstone principles of a great paintjob : A clean and sanitary setting drastically reduces flaws, and careful surface preparation is key to paint adhesion. We doubt most home painters will get their garages as clean as the Sherwin-Williams school, but a little cleaning, washing, proper ventilation, and masking off walls and ceilings with plastic will dramatically improve any paintjob.
Equipment is another important part of the equation. In the past we have shown you how to paint with cheap spray guns and cut costs with bargain tools. Those tips will definitely get color on your rig, but with an inferior paintjob. However, if you’re trying to impress your sweetheart and trail buddies, or if you need to sharpen your painting skills, then invest in quality painting tools.
We hauled some Jeep body parts to the school in Reno and set off on a two-day marathon of bodywork, priming, and painting. We decided on a Martin Senour brand of paint that’s manufactured by Sherwin-Williams. The great part of the Martin Senour line is that it’s quality paint and it can be purchased or ordered from any NAPA Auto Parts store in a number of colors.
We also chose one of the new lines of waterborne paints, which are limited in availability in certain areas but also required in some areas because of VOC (volatile organic chemical/compound) regulations.
Waterborne paint is the latest paint technology and was in part created to meet regulations to lower the VOC content of paint. By 2020 all states will be mandated to use waterborne paints. Waterborne doesn’t mean water-based; water is used as a reducer that’s a replacement for petroleum-based fillers and thinners, which lowers the VOC content of the paint. A waterborne basecoat reduces with a co-solvent, which makes it far more durable than water-based paints. The benefits of waterborne paint are that it gives off a less offensive odor, is excellent for color matching, lays down easier, provides quicker coverage, and has a cleaner appearance.