Detailing Car Paint: What To Know To Be A Excellent Paint Corrector
One problem I see time and time again is that detailers will perform the prep stage of a car detail and then just tackle the paint with a polisher and their go to products. While after dozens of details you will begin to better understand what a certain cars paint will require to correct. It can be very helpful to understand what is going on with the paint in order to correct it properly.
Primarily we want to know four things. One, what is the overall condition of the paint? Items such as swirls and scratches, haze, and chemical etching. Second, does the paint have any oxidation. Third, how much thickness do you have to work with-primarily clear coat thickness. Fourth, is the paint hard or soft.
Car Paint Defects
We have discussed this item in fair detail in lesson 4 when we went over polishing the paint and how to remove defects. With car defects you want to know how aggressive you need to be in order to remove them and how much of them can actually be removed. Your test panel will give you this information in addition to using a paint thickness gauge to ensure you do not cut through clear coat.
Car Paint Oxidation
Heat and oxygen combine to break down the molecular structure of the paint leaving a waste behind on top of the remaining coating which is in the form of a white chalky substance. The danger of oxidation is often detailers grab a wool pad and heavy cut compound and go to town.
What is incorrect in this method is that if the oxidation has been developing over time you may not have much clear coat left over and can burn through the paint very quickly—or what is left of it.
Typically, horizontal surface like the hood, trunk, and roof are the most susceptible to oxidation and the top aspect of side panels that catch more sunlight during the day.
Let’s touch on the topic of removing oxidation. This does not have to be an intimidating task and having some knowledge can increase your confidence when tackling oxidation on a cars paint.
To begin ensure the paint is clean and clay the area. Claying helps remove surface oxidation without the need of a polisher initially.
Start with a higher-level polish usually in the mid-cut range and your orange lake country foam pad or something equivalent. Work a small test section no more then 12-inches by 12-inches. After you have cycled the product inspect the area to see how much is removed. If you only have a tiny amount left, I would continue by cleaning your pad and making another pass with a couple more dots.
If your polish does not seem to make much of a dent you can move up to a compound. You can jump to a microfiber cutting or finishing disc but ensure you utilize a DA Polisher as it will not produce a lot of heat and the DA action will prevent burning of the paint. You may have to make a couple of passes.
Once the oxidation is removed you will surely have some solid haze. Finish off the panel with your polish and foam pad combo.
After your correction is complete ensure the paint does not develop any more oxidation by letting it sit in the direct sunlight for a couple of hours while you work on the rest of the vehicle. If after a couple hours the panel is still clear and holding your results it is recommended you coat with a ceramic coating.
Ceramic coating is far superior to wax in its ability to repel the sun and prevent oxidation. However, if you or the client wishes not to invest in the cost of a coating then use a high-quality wax like Daddio-O paint sealant and top with Clutch to give it the best protection you can below a full ceramic coating.
Car Paint Thickness
While I do not always check paint thickness if you are working with an older vehicle (greater then 4 years) or you know the car has been cut and polished a couple times before you want to ensure you have enough clear coat left to adequately remove defects without cutting to deep to leave no protection and/or cutting through the clear coat.
There are a lot of great paint thickness gauges on the market from around $100 to $500. The higher end models will give you more information such as each layer’s thickness (Primer, Base, and Clear). It is all dependent on your budget and preference.
Use the door jamb to check the initial thickness of the paint. This gives you your base thickness since door jams are rarely polished heavily. You then will compare that reading to your panels.
When you perform your test section for results you can take a second reading to see how much is removed with each step-compound and polish.
Say you remove 1 Micron when you compound and only ¼ when you polish and you have 5.8 microns total. Then you know you are pretty safe. However, keep in mind that if you have to make multiple compound passes you should continue to check remaining thickness.
What does this mean for correction? My truck on the tailgate has been cut to many times while making videos and fixing dog scratches to be cut anymore. The most I can do is a light polish to reduce swirls.
This tells me what the maximum results I can get are on that panel. This is an expectation you can relay to your clients to give them a realistic idea of what type of results you can achieve based on the paints current condition.
Hard Car Paint vs Soft Car Paint
Hard vs Soft car paint primarily tells you what type of correction will be required in order to achieve the desired results.
Often harder paint requires heavier compounding while a softer paint may only require a higher-level polish
To make this more informative check out this fantastic video by AMMO NYC detailing.
There you have it. A little more information to better assist you when it comes to removing oxidation from a cars paint and more tips on better assessing a vehicle to help use the least aggressive method possible in order to achieve the desired results.
In addition to understanding your tools by also understanding the material you are working with you can prevent costly mistakes when correcting a cars paint and restoring it to a beautiful finish.
Have a Questions?
Is there something I missed? Something not clear? Drop a question below and I will gladly answer and update this page as needed.
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