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Wet Sanding and Buffing Automotive Paints
Wet sanded and buffed paint Finally, let’s take a look at this ’60 Pontiac color
sanded and rubbed-out by Bill Larzelere. The final
rub out, done carefully and properly, is what takes
any paint job—done by a pro or done by you at
home—from the level of “as good as factory” to full-
on custom paint. Anybody who knows cars and
knows paint will immediately see the difference. And
the best part about this final step is that it doesn’t
really cost anything other than a little polishing
compound and a few sheets of sandpaper—plus
your free time and effort. Yes, you can do all of this,
and be proud of it.
This is finally it—the step that makes all that other work worthwhile. Many painters get real
satisfaction from learning how to lay down a smooth, glossy, wet coat of paint with no orange peel
or runs. But, even for a first-time amateur, seeing that glass-smooth gloss appear from the dull,
color-sanded paint after a few passes with a buffer and compound is exhilarating. And it gets even
better from there. The rub out with compound is good. But the polish step with a good sealer/glaze
is nearly miraculous. And adding a coat of your favorite car wax by hand is frosting on the cake—
that you can continue doing for years to keep that shine just as good as new.

Even early brush-painted lacquer paint jobs, or those applied with bug sprayers or vacuum-cleaner
attachments, can—and have been—color sanded and rubbed out to perfectly smooth and glossy
finishes. Things have improved since then. In fact, the chances that you’re using lacquer paint are
slim these days. If, by chance you have acquired and used lacquer paint, including clear, then you
must finish the job by rubbing it out, because lacquer does not dry glossy. Lacquer, however, can
be hand-rubbed, while most other paints these days can’t be, easily.
Of course, you don’t have to rub out your paint if it’s not lacquer, or if it’s base coat with the
requisite clear coat. Nearly all types dry or harden very glossy, and you can leave it that way.
Factory paint jobs are not rubbed out. Neither are most body shop jobs. But one thing that truly
denotes a custom paint job is the rub out. Even on basic colors like black or red—in fact, especially
on such colors—a glass-like rub out makes all the difference. Anybody who knows paint or cars,
and most who don’t, see it immediately.

But a couple of caveats: We cover all levels of paint jobs in this book. The color sand and rub out is
for the top level. That means you have to do all the preliminary steps fully, and to equal quality, too.
This refers primarily to bodywork and block sanding. If you’re going to make the paint surface as
smooth as glass, it immediately shows every ripple, dimple, sand-scratch, or any other imperfection
that lies underneath it. If you don’t rub out the paint, imperfect preparation won’t show nearly as
badly. As usual, it’s your choice.
Rubbing out straight colors (red, yellow, black) is no problem. In fact, I see no reason to put clear
coats over them, though people do. On the other hand, while you can rub out metallics, pearls, or
candies, it is not recommended without adding a few liberal clear coats first. Paints with micro-
particles in them (metallics, pearls) can do weird things when you rub on them, possibly flipping-
over or “rearranging” those particles. Sanding and rubbing directly on transparent paints (candies)
can possibly cause thin spots, which lightens the hue of the color. In both cases, it is much better to
sand and rub on a clear coat on top of them, and it is imperative to put enough clear on so that you
won’t sand or rub through it at any time during these final steps.
Fender wet sanded and waiting to be buffed There are at least as many ways to color sand and
rub out your car as there are ways to put your
pants on in the morning. And, given the title and
scope of this book, you might think we’d want to
show someone doing it at home. But why not show
how one of the best does it, so you can learn some
tricks? Bill Larzelere, who calls his business
“Automotive Grooming” (Burbank, California), has
detailed and rubbed out countless Pebble Beach
classics and other well-known show winners over
the past 30-plus years. Our demonstration subject
is a cinnamon red ’60 Pontiac.
The hood has orange peel
This low-mileage original needed
little more than a new paint job, which the owner
had resprayed in base coat/clear coat by a
less-than-excellent painter. A good rub out person
can save a mediocre paint job (to a point). But Bill
had partially sanded this one when he realized the
hood really needed to be resprayed. Unfortunately,
as you can see, it still has plenty of orange-peel in
the clear, but this is where we begin to follow the
Sand papers
In the old days of lacquer, you could color sand it
with 600 paper, hand-rub it with paste compound,
and you’d be ready for wax. Today’s paints, either
1-stage or 2-stage, generally require color sanding
in stages, beginning with 1000-grit and working up
to 2500-grit or so. All color sanding should be done
wet, and paper for it comes already cut in half-
sheets, ready to fold in thirds. The best paper has
the most uniform grit.
Soaking containers for sand paper
Soak your wet-sanding paper at
least 30 minutes, to soften it up,
before use. Since he does this
every day, Bill keeps various grits
soaking in labeled, sealed
containers in a cabinet in his shop,
along with a variety of buffing
compounds and polishes.
Using a squirt bottle to rinse sand paper The entire rub out process can be quite messy.
For color sanding, many painters keep a
dribbling hose in one hand to continually rinse off
sanding grit with clean water (if you do, a good
tip is to tape around the metal hose end to avoid
any paint scratches). I prefer a handy bucket of
water to dip the paper in. Either method is best
done outside, though hot sun doesn’t help. Bill
works inside, and prefers to apply small amounts
of water directly to his pre-soaked paper from a
squirt bottle.
Wet sanding the paint
Most color sanding should be done
with some sort of block. Bill cuts a
semi-hard rubber squeegee slightly
smaller than the folded paper, so he
can hold the paper by the edges as he
sands in back-and-forth strokes,
starting with 1000 grit on this fairly
rough paint.
Adding water with a spray bottle
He also keeps a spray
bottle of water handy to add
more, if needed.
Wet sanding the paint
Color sanding is basically a visual
process. The first step is to sand
evenly until all the orange peel
disappears. But to see what you’re
doing, you must continually clean the
surface. Bill, like most, uses a small
rubber squeegee to wipe off the water
and grit. I like to use a chamois. Or you
could even use a towel.

This has been a sample page from

How to Paint Your Car on a Budget How to Paint Your Car on a Budget
by Pat Ganahl
If your car needs new paint, or even just a touch-up, the cost
involved in getting a professional job can be more than you
bargained for. Fortunately, there are less expensive
alternatives-—you can even paint your own car at home!
In How to Paint Your Car On A Budget, author Pat Ganahl unveils
dozens of secrets that will help anyone paint their own car. From
simple scuff-and-squirt jobs to full-on, door-jambs-and-everything
paint jobs, Ganahl covers everything you need to know to get a
great-looking coat of paint on your car and save lots of money in
the process. This book covers painting equipment, the ins and
outs of prep, masking, painting and sanding products and
techniques, and real-world advice on how to budget wisely when
painting your own car. It’s the most practical automotive painting
book ever written!
Click below to view sample
pages from each chapter!
Introduction - Budget Painting
Chap. 1 - Automotive Painting
Chap. 2 - Paint Stripping
Chap. 3 - Bodywork
Chap. 4 - Painting at Home
Chap. 5 - Paint Products
Chap. 6 - Paint Preparation
Chap. 7 - One-Day Paint Job
Chap. 8 - Sand and Paint
Chap. 9 - Full Paint Jobs
Chap. 10 - Restorations
Chap. 11 - Sand & Buff
8-1/2 x 11"
128 pages
Approximately 400 color photos
Item: SA117
Price: $22.95
Click here to buy now!
This is a great book that any enthusiast will love,
whether it's your first paint job or your 50th.

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