Color-Sanding and Buffing

Color-Sanding and Buffing

Bringing out the shine of a fresh, new paint job
on

Paint isn't what it used to be, which is both good and bad. The old lacquer type emitted unwanted fumes. Today's two-part urethane is cleaner and healthier, but getting the same level of shine takes a bit more effort. That's where color-sanding, along with some extra clearcoats and buffing, can really bring out the gleam in this gold GTO.

The Cure

We provided some practical tips on prepping and painting in previous articles, but there are still some extra steps involved to get the most out of the new hues. As pro painter Mike Face points out, "Paints require more work today. If you look closely at the reflections in the surface, you can see that the edges of, say, tree branches or a stop sign, don't look quite as crisp as with those lacquer finishes." Face believes that the best way to get that old-time shine is to first let the initial clearcoats cure in the sun for a couple days so the solvents air out. Next, block-sand the clearcoated surface with 1,000-grit paper and water, then apply two more coats (in addition to the two or more previously applied). These last applications are sometimes called "flow coats." Face then sands yet again with 800 and 1,500 grit paper and water, and proceeds to buffing the finish.

Sanding Tips

Face shared some tips and tricks he uses during color-sanding, such as adding a bit of dish soap to the water. "That avoids paper clogging," he says. "It's also good to let the paper soak, and have a wet rag in the other hand to wipe off the residue."

One paint flaw that requires correction is orange peel, that bumpy surface caused by contaminants (see previous article for details). It may not be immediately evident (unless it's a severe case), but when you begin sanding and buffing, the residue reveals the raised areas of the paint.

Like color-sanding, buffing can be a tedious and time-consuming process. Face starts with a white foam pad and a coarse polishing compound, working a small section at a time. After a couple of passes, you can actually feel the difference in the smoothness of the paint with your hand. Then he goes over the surface with a softer, black foam pad and a finer polishing compound.

When it's all done, Face discourages waxing new paint for at least two months in order to let it cure properly. He actually prefers using the fine polishing compound instead of wax, but he likes the thinner detailing sprays as well.

Does that all sound like a lot of work? Sure it does, but that's why custom paint jobs cost so much (figure on a minimum of $6,000, if not much more). Face admits that this extra effort and expense may not be worth it for a "street job," but on a show-quality car that's under close scrutiny, it really pays off. Our next story about this particular GTO resto will cover upholstery.

Color-Sanding and Buffing
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