Spot Paint Repairs - Panel Painting     by Carl Brunson

     It happens … your car got dented or scratched.  With today’s paint systems that means the entire panel must be painted, according to most body shops, and that is the paint repair recommended by almost all paint companies.  However, there is a way to do a spot repair, melting the edge of the new paint repair into the old paint finish, that works well and can save a lot of time and money.  Now you are thinking: If spot repairs work so well, why isn’t it done all the time, instead of painting complete panels?
     Well, the fact is that the blend edge of the paint doesn’t last forever.  However, it is pretty much standard procedure to blend the paint edge on the sail panels when painting quarter panels to keep from having to paint the roof as well.
I am going to walk you through both types of spot repairs giving tips on how to keep the paint repair as invisible as possible.  Here I will show spot painting the color, but clearing the entire body panels.  You will also need to read the other article on melting the paint edges into the old paint in Hot Rod MD.

Spot Paint MD-1

     Here is a Dodge Charger that was damaged on the quarter panel, just behind the door.  You need to pay special attention to several things in the photo.
     Because the repair is close to the door, in order to get a perfect color match I must blend the color on the rear of the door so the rear of the door and the quarter are the exact same color.  Even if the paint I am using for the repair is a few shades different from the paint on the car, the color can be “stepped out” to gradually blend the new color into the old color, making the color blend invisible.  More about the process of stepping the color out later.
     Note that the door handle and all trim have been removed from the door.  The door and the rest of the quarter panel have been sanded with 1000 grit.  Notice too, I have masked the wheelwell, the holes for the door handle (from inside the door) and taped the masking paper to the floor.  This extra masking not only protects from overspray in those areas, it prevents the masking paper from flopping around while spraying, stirring up dust.  I have even seen the loose paper flip into the wet paint.  Not a good thing.  After this photo was shot, I masked the rear edge of the door with masking paper to keep the paint buildup as thin as possible on the door edge while painting the quarter panel.  Thick paint chips more easily.

Spot Paint MD-2

     Ok, now the Charger has the color and clear painted.  Look at the masking paper, noting how the blue color is darker on the rear of the door and tapers into nothing about mid door.  The procedure of spraying the blended color is generally called stepping the paint out.  I do the “stepping out” process in three stages.  After the quarter panel was painted I pulled the paper off the door and tacked it with a tack rag.  Using the same air pressure that I painted the quarter panel with; I sprayed about 8-inches of the rear of the door using the same side-to-side motions as when painting any car.  When the paint has dried (maybe 15 minutes with base/coat color) I tack the door off again carefully removing any loose overspray.
     Next I spray another coat of color on the rear edge of the door extending past the first coat’s dry edge about another 8-inches.  When that coat is dry, I tack again and spray the third coat to at least the center of the door.  At the end of each spray gun pass on this last coat I twist my wrist slightly towards the front of the door making the paint edge of the new color wider.  I don’t use the tack rag after the last coat, leaving whatever dry color is on the rest of the door alone to be absorbed into the clear coats.
    For the first coat of clear, I spray a medium coat on both panels and let it set up before spraying wet coats to finish off.  Too wet of a first coat of clear can disturb the edges of the new color and cause a halo effect when the metallic or pearl is absorbed into the clear coats.  Two things are achieved in this stepping out process.  The first is that the edge of the new paint is covered and extended farther away from the repaired area … the second and most important thing that happens is the new color is blended into the old color.
     The back edge of the door has three coats of color and is covered to match the quarter panel exactly.  The second coat will be slightly transparent allowing some of the original color to show through, while the third coat is really transparent, allowing lots of the original color to be seen.  I also stepped out the color on the quarter panel from the repaired area, so that the area of new color is covering almost the entire quarter panel.
I try making as few areas of the color transition visible as possible to someone looking at the car.

Spot Paint MD-3

     Here is the Charger color-sanded and ready for polishing.  Notice the tapering of the blue on the masking paper again.  The main reason I am showing this photo is to explain one of those painter’s tricks that keep a good spot repair invisible.  See the small white strip on the front edge of this Charger’s R/T stripe on the quarter panel?  The very last thing I taped up before spraying the car was that small strip of the white decal with fine line tape.
     As soon as I am done spraying the clear, I pull off that fine line tape.  That makes the edge of the clear that is against the decal flow and not leave a sharp edge that can be seen or felt like it would if the clear was set up when the tape was removed.


Spot Paint MD-4

     Here is the repair all polished and ready for all the trim to be put back on.  As far as anyone looking at this car can tell, it was never damaged.  This repair will last at least as long as the paint on the rest of the car.

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