After you have applied your final coat of clear you will more then likely have some imperfections in your paint that need to be removed. If you were diligent with your preparation then that dust or hair should be located only in the top clear coat of your paint and can be removed by sanding and compounding.
If you find that you missed a run or dirt in the primer or finish base coat you are going to end up doing a touch up to your nice new paint job, This is why it is important to keep your work area clean and remove all the dust you can from your work surface with wax and grease remover and tack cloth.
One of the worst culprits will be the paper and tape you use for your masking. a way around this if you are working fast is to tape another piece of paper over the old and continue painting if you can. This will reduce the dusting from dry over spray that is partly attached to your mask paper but gets set free when you hit it with air.
Sanding your clear
To compound out orange peal or imperfections you can use a finishing grit wet sand sandpaper rated at 1000 or above. The grit you select should be the least aggressive paper to get the job done. 3000 or 2000 will work well in most situations to get the paint perfectly level and remove any dust. A run or sag may take some additional steps including a UV lamp to cure the paint better in the problem area before you begin sanding.
If you are in a full shop with a booth that can bake the paint you should bake it as the manufacturer recommends for about an hour then let it set and cool before you begin.
Always use an absolutely clean bucket 1/3rd full of water and a drop or two of soap to help keep the wet sand paper free of clogs. Using a sanding block or a rubber squeegee for sanding is up to you. Keep your work area clean with water and wipe with a clean cloth to check your progression. Make sure you are only removing the high areas and don’t sand through the clear.
Buffing Once finished you will need to compound the area to bring back a shine to the clear. Just like while sanding you want to use the least aggressive compound available and an electric buffer will help speed the process. Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze and other manufacturers make a line of compounds that are graded from 0 to 10 and a swirl remover which is used to remove the buffer marks. You need to use a water friendly compound with NO SILICON and it should say paintable on the lable.
Set the buffer to 1200 to 1800 rpm the slower the better for a beginner and professional buffers usually have 2 speeds so use the slow setting. You need a fresh wool bonnet for your polisher, synthetic is ok but may burn the paint . A foam pad is not the best for this work and should be reserved for waxing. You also need a squirt bottle of water to keep the area wet. You should have this from your sanding but make sure its clean.
Apply a small amount of compound to the area in a snake shape and wipe it with the bonnet on the buffer to spread the compound and get it on to the buffer bonnet.
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS keep the buffer moving and don’t stop with it touching the paint. Use the least amount of work that you can to get the shine up to match the rest of the car.
Once you are done you will need to clean the compound from the car.
Do not WAX over fresh paint. Fresh paint needs at least 3 to 5 months before wax can be applied even if you bake the paint. Make sure that anyone using the car knows this not to apply wax or use a car wash that uses wax. You need to hand wash for the first 6 months.
Sometimes when you are curing a problem on black cars you will see swirl marks that look like buffer trails. Swirls are pretty ugly but can be removed either by hand or with a buffer by using liquid swirl remover. Read the directions closely and make sure it wont harm a fresh paint job. With more practice you will leave fewer swirl marks but don’t feel so bad sometimes there is no getting away from them.
The techniques described above can be used on single stage and a variety of projects using professional paint products. Buffing is also used for wood finishes and stone counter tops to restore luster and repair marks from joining pieces.
The YouRepair Store carries a full line of automotive tools and products everything from paint to swirl remover to let your car look the best it can.
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