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Spray Painting Your 4x4 Truck?

Posted in How To on February 1, 2002 Comment (0)
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Spray Painting Your 4x4 Truck?

Back in the day, automotive spray paint was thought of as something only hack-jobbers would use on their Sanford & Son trucks. Today, improvements in aerosols, paint materials, and pigments make spray painting a quick and cost effective way to paint your favorite 4x4. Let’s face it—spray paint affords a remarkably durable, rust-protected surface with the convenience of being completely portable. We took to the streets to find a 4x4 in desperate need of some new skin and didn’t have to look far. Our paint project ’85 Toyota had all the blisters, orange peel, and rust holes that we needed to practice our newly learned paint skills on and to prove that you don’t need to go to a paint shop for a quality paint job.

Our weekend sprayfest required 24 cans of Khaki Ultra-Flat from Krylon’s Camouflage paint system. At $3.99 a can from Autozone our whopping paint total came to $95.76. Additionally we used basic paint prep materials like Bondo, a $2.99 can of paint prep cleaner, a couple of tack rags, 100- to 300-grit sandpaper, newspaper, and masking tape, making the out-of-pocket expense around $130. That’s a paint project anyone can afford. Here are a few tips that will allow you to become as celebrated as Kenny Krylon.

Tip: Protect your environment from weather elements such as excessive heat, cold, wind, and humidity.
Why:
Color lifting, alligatoring, cracking, or blistering are all caused from too humid an environment. This traps moisture below the paint film, which will appear as pimples or bubbles. Orange peel is caused from too high a temperature or because the spray can is too far away from the paint surface.

Tip: Shake can vigorously for at least one minute.
Why:
Aerosols deliver a conglomeration of ultra fine particles of pigment, solvent, and resin suspended in a propellant. The minute rule allows the particles to integrate. You will hear the internal agitator rattling, and that will signal that the particles are actually mixing. If you don’t hear the rattle, turn the can upside down and wait for the agitator to fall to the top of the can, and then proceed to shake. You should also shake in between spray patterns to maintain uniformity in the mixture.

Tip: Repair dents and blemishes, sand the surface with 100- to 300-grit paper, and prime repaired areas.
Why:
One of the main reasons that a professional paint job can be so expensive is because of the time-intensive prep work involved. Sanding and repairing dents, dings, scratches, and rust spots is time-consuming. But this is where the do-it-yourselfer can cut hefty costs. Once our sheetmetal was sanded and the repair areas were primered, it was time to don the air compressor and blow off all the sand dust with an air nozzle. After blowing off the dust, we wiped the entire surface with a grease remover and then with a fresh tack rag. The rag is impregnated with a sticky nondrying varnish that picks up impurities on the surface. Impurities such as grease or solvents will not allow the paint to stick, so make certain the surface is very clean. Sanding, priming, and cleaning is what allows the paint to adhere to the surface.

Tip: Lightly spray a mist of black spray paint over the repaired area.
Why:
A contrasting color, such as a black paint, will allow you to check your repair work because the surface imperfections will be apparent under the misted black spray.

Tip: Fully mask any area that you do not want to paint.
Why:
Masking keeps windows, keyholes, door handles, and window moldings free of paint.

Tip: To ensure you clear the window moldings, insert a small rope in between the door and molding.
Why:
This allows you to tuck the tape/newspaper down into the door to protect your molding and glass from overspray.

Tip: Make certain the paint environment is clean, warm, and dust-free.
Why:
Airborne elements such as dust and dirt contaminate the surface and become trapped in the paint film. Weather also plays a huge factor in the quality of your paint job if you are going to paint outside. If it’s too humid, airborne water droplets will become trapped in the paint. If it’s too windy, you risk getting dust and dirt trapped in the film, and gusts will also make it difficult to lay down an even coat and will increase overspray.

Tip: Hold the spray can approximately 8-10 inches from the surface.
Why:
If your can is too close or you have applied a concentration of wet paint, the paint will run or sag. This is because the coating can not adhere uniformly. Paint slippage forces the paint to form beads or droplets. This occurs because the can is too close to the surface, because you’ve piled on a heavy coat, or because you haven’t allowed enough time for each coat to dry. Approximately 5-10 minutes between coats should be sufficient, depending on your paint system. Go easy, especially in small areas like around the door handles.

Tip: Lay paint down in a pattern. Start with a side-to-side motion, let dry, then go up and down. Repeat side-to-side and up-and-down application until the finish is satisfactory.
Why:
Known as feathering, overlapping side-to-side and up-and-down passes evenly lay your pigment down on the sheetmetal. Feathering ensures application evenness. Furthermore, using comfortable passes and avoiding excessively long swipes and transitions will prevent paint thickness from becoming concentrated in the middle of the swipe.

Tip: If the paint dries before it hits the surface, it creates what is called a dry paint surface. Move your can closer to the surface and increase the speed of your application motion.
Why:
Sometimes the solvent in the paint dries in mid air, causing paint dust on the surface. If the symptom is detected early you can move closer to the surface and speed up your hand motion. In our application, and because of the ultra-flat (read ultra-dry) paint, we moved our paint spray range to 5-6 inches from the surface. If the paint has dried, you can correct it by wiping off the dust, sanding with fine-grit sandpaper, and refinishing.

Tip: Be consistent with the thickness of each coat.
Why:
Ideally you should lay down a light-to-medium coat each go around. Take your time. Apply two to five light coats as opposed to one thick coat. This will alleviate runs and drips. If you do accidentally create a blemish you can correct the condition by removing the wet paint film with solvent. Then clean and refinish. Or after the finish is completely dry you can remove excess paint by block sanding with 1,200- or finer-grit sandpaper, then smoothing and refinishing. For additional application control, you can buy a spray can gun gismo from Krylon for $1.50, which lets you control the amount of “squeeze” that comes from the can.

Tip: Clean the nozzle by holding the can upside down and spraying until there is no paint exiting the nozzle. If that doesn’t clear the nozzle, you can remove the tip and clean it with a pin.
Why:
If your nozzle is clogged, or there is dry paint trapped inside the nozzle, the paint will exit the can sporadically, giving you a splotchy and uneven finish.

Sources

AutoZone
1-800/AUTOZONE
autozone.com

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