Daily Archives: May 10, 2012

That’s better

Yesterday we painted the bumper of this Lexus to remove some parking lot smudges. The bumper took enough of a whack to knock a large chunk of paint off, exposing the raw bumper underneath. A car this nice can’t be driven around with its underthings on display for everyone to see.

After a trip through the paint booth the missing paint isn’t missing anymore and the car is fully covered once more.

Door ray me fit so good

Now that we have the new door skin is on this Accord, that means only one thing. It’s time to paint.

The first two photos shows the car and bumper sealed. The sealer goes on under the paint and does just what it’s name implies … it seals the surface below and provides a bonding surface for the paint that follows.

Sealer comes in seven shades of gray, from almost white to almost black. Each paint color specifies one of these seven shades of gray. Failure to use the proper shade of sealer will cause the paint to appear as a slightly different color. It’s not an issue when you paint an entire car, but if you are trying to match the paint, as on this Accord, the proper color sealer is a critical component of the painting process. The sealer you see on this car is a shade or two to the dark side of the center, or neutral gray.

The next three photos, numbers 3-5, show the car and bumper after the application of the base coat. The base coat is the color of the car’s finish. It dries nearly flat because it is the clear coat that provides the pop to the finish.

Picture number 4 is a good example of a common painting technique body shops use to prevent having to paint an entire car to insure a perfect paint match. If you look carefully at the front door you can see that as the front door meets the rear door, the color seems to change. That shift in color is caused by blending the color.

The human eye has a fantastic ability to differentiate colors. Unless the new paint is exactly the same color as the existing paint, the human eye will be able to see the difference in the two colors. Further, it is almost impossible to mix two batches of paint and obtain a perfect color match. You see the problem … it is difficult to impossible to mix two batches of paint exactly the same and yet the eye can see any tiny variation in the paint color.

Fortunately for painters, there is a flaw in the eye’s ability to see colors that painters can use to their advantage. If the colors are very close to the same color, the eye must see the two color side by side with a hard line defining the colors. This is how blending hides any slight sifts in color. By spraying the paint used for the repair over the existing paint and feathering the edge away to nothing, the eye loses that hard edge and can’t see the difference in colors. Obviously if the two colors are to far apart, no amount of blending is going to hide the color shift, but blending gives the painter a little wiggle room on the paint.

I know that some of you are looking at the fourth picture and are saying BoOogus! because the paint on the doors don’t appear at all close in color. And you would be right … if what you were seeing was actually a change in paint color. What you are actually seeing is the difference in paint that is freshly applied and paint that has been sanded to rough it up so it can be painted over. That perceived difference in color will completely disappear when the clear coat is applied.

Speaking of clear coat, the last three pictures, numbers 6-8, show what happens when the clear is applied. The dull flat appearance disappears and the paint comes alive with depth and gloss. You will also notice that the blend line so obvious in the fourth photo is completely gone, erased by the application of the clear coat.

The clear coat is the magic elixir of the two-stage paint process. It not only provides a thick, tough protective barrier to the base coat below, it also amps up the appearance and brings some sizzle to the finish.

Painting cars is a very satisfying occupation. With little more than a wave of my hand I can take a dull, flat, lifeless car and make it gleam like a jewel. It’s almost enough to make me sing.

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