[ccpw id="5"]

HomeClassic Car InvestBasic body work part 4: Wet sanding, buffing and polishing | Articles

Basic body work part 4: Wet sanding, buffing and polishing | Articles


Paint work is more than just a wafer-thin candy coating. It’s a complex surface treatment that fills holes, reflects light and protects your car’s metallic structure. A DIY paint job isn’t over when you’ve sprayed your last droplet of paint—there’s still plenty left to do to make the car shine, even if it doesn’t quite come out the way you intended. 

After the paint is fully cured, you can remove contaminants like bugs and dust, sand down runs and orange peel, and even fill small holes with more paint. The trick is understanding that the human eye is trained to notice inconsistencies and differences in a finish; if everything looks similar, even if it’s similarly irregular, all that registers in most people’s minds is good paint work. 

Step 1: No Runs, No Drips, No Errors

A paint run or sag is simply a place where the paint’s viscosity can’t support its own weight on a vertical surface. The more thinner or reducer the paint contains or the thicker it’s applied, the more runs you’ll see in the finished product. 

You can use a hand-held paint planer to remove fully cured runs. A paint planer is a small piece of file that is mounted on a block of wood. There are also versions that use a razor blade to cut off the top of a run. 

Step 2: Paper or Plastic?

Extremely fine grit sandpaper can be used to knock down surface irregularities. For rough texturing, you should start out with 1200-grit and work up to 1500 and 2000. If the finish is pretty good, just go with the 1500. Sand until the surface of the paint is uniform—uniform irregularity like a light orange peel can be good enough. All you’re trying to do is fool the eye into thinking that everything is level.

Step 3: Slippery When Wet

Don’t just start sanding bare paint. Liberally use water to lubricate the sandpaper as it removes excess paint. We’ve had good luck adding a few drops of soap to a bucket of water to make the paint even easier to sand. Make sure that you don’t sand all the way through the paint—be especially careful around ridges and edges.

Step 4: Polish to a Shine

After the car has been wet sanded, you can break out the polishing compound. We have successfully used inexpensive polishes to bring the shine back to our paint. It can be applied by hand or with a random orbital polishing tool. 

Step 5: Tools of the Trade

Polishers like this inexpensive model from Harbor Freight don’t accomplish much more than hands do. However, a polisher can save you some muscle energy. Keep in mind that polishers are much less likely to burn through thin paint than high-speed buffers.

Step 6: Wax On, Wax Off

After the paint has been polished, it’s time to put a coat of wax on it. We’ve had good luck with P21S carnauba wax—it’s not inexpensive, but it applies very easily and creates a nice shine.

Step 7: Maintain the Finish

Maintaining a paint job is a matter of making sure the paint is clean and well-waxed. Use a paint cleanser or a clay polishing bar to remove surface contaminants before the next application of wax.

Step 8: The Finish Is Finished

All done. Now go get it dirty!


View comments on the GRM forums


VW ID.Aero Concept Previews an EV Sedan, and It’s Coming to the U.S.

The Volkswagen ID.Aero is the latest member of VW's electric ID family.It's a mid-size sedan with similar styling as the ID.4 SUV and a...

Escapade Silverstone | Property Develompment

With a record 400,000+ Formula 1 fans heading to this weekend’s British Grand Prix, construction is well underway on 60 exclusive residences that come...

Why We Can’t Get Enough Of John Cena’s New LS-Swapped 1969 MGC GT

John Cena is a famed WWE champion and is also now gaining recognition as a fine actor. But it is seldom known that this...

Test Drive Gallery: 2022 Genesis G80 3.5T Sport Prestige | The Daily Drive | Consumer Guide® The Daily Drive

2022 Genesis G80 3.5T Sport Prestige in “Siberian Ice” paint 2022 Genesis G80 3.5T Sport Prestige Class: Premium Large Car Miles driven: 335 Fuel used: 19.5 gallons CG Report Card Room and ComfortA- Power...

Most Popular