ForumBody & Paint

How To Prepare And Paint Your VW

#1
Date: 08/12/2004 10:59 | Topic / Title:
How To Prepare And
Paint Your VW


Special Thanks goes out to Mr.VW, Chuck Kuecker, Richard Schultz, Austin Jack Smith, and Chuck Covington!
1] Sandblasting techniques and tips
Sandblasting has receive a bad rap. Honestly, I love doing it and I couldn't accomplish my restorations without it. The trick is to have the right pressure, sand, and go easy on everything. For rust and paint removal, it's unparalleled. People say that blasting warps the metal. I have yet to warp any metal on a VW. I've blasted pans, roofs, doors, fenders, hoods, aprons, my brother, etc.....I only use a fine grit blasting sand. I have a Sears Craftsman Sand blaster, Craftsman 5hp compressor set to 95-100psi, and with this setup I have yet to damage a panel. Start with a small area, get as much off as possible with a pass or 2, then go to another area, then come back. This way, you won't generate tons of heat. The metal will need primer right away. If you use sand that is too thick, you can pit the metal. With fine sand, the metal has a "rough" feel, but no pitting. With a couple coats of primer, it's all set to paint.
2] Body preparation
Using a VW factory finish for a base is fine. In areas with paint chips, feather edge the paint and prime. If it's too low, you might need to use some plastic filler to get the right height. You can sandblast old paint, or use chemical stripper. I've used either. You can make a killer mess with either. I sand with 150 grit over the entire finish, and then apply 2-3 coats of primer over the car. That way, you don't have to worry about different colors under your base coat. I use light grey primer for light car colors, and a ruddy red color primer for darker colors. I only spray my primer with my air gun.
3] What air pressure setup you used
I don't have a HVLP gun, but I've found that 45-60 works well for me in my garage, with minimal overspray. It all depends on the temperature outside as well. Too much pressure, and you get overspray and crappy finish. Too little pressure and you get runs, drips, sags, and orange peel.
4] Setup of paint booth
Clean clean clean clean. I squirt a big water on the floor with windex bottle to keep the dust down. I cover everything with plastic, and then hang clear plastic up like walls. Since I don't have a paint booth, I make my own. I rigged up a cross ventilation setup with 3 blowers, which makes whatever overspray there is, fly outside of the garage. I'd like to have the over head setup, but that's not possible in my garage.
5] What kind of paint gun is best
Many argue the that HVLP (High Volume, Low Pressure) guns are the best, because they almost eliminate overspray. However, with the right adjustment, my good ole' Chicago Pneumatic gun works just fine.
6] Techniques to prevent drips and sags
Practice Practice Practice. Right air pressure, mixture of paint, temperature, etc. Temperature affects spraying more than people realize. There are different reducers for different temperatures.
7] Spraying por-15 with a spray gun (their literature says it can be done)
I've never used the stuff.......
8] Basecoat, clear coat costs and brands
For most people wanting to spray cars them selves, you won't need a clear coat. In fact, I wouldn't recommend a novice painter to do one. You can have a great color coat, and ruin it by applying the clear. Clear coat is much harder to spray than the base coat, because it's thinner. With the last 2 cars I've done, I used a harder which had a "wet look." It was as good as a clear coat. I only use PPG paint, because the price is right, and I can get it locally. It dries rock hard, with a beautiful, deep shine. I also only use enamel. Laquer is becoming harder to find, and it's easier to work with, but enamel gives you a better, and more durable finish.
9] Paint qualities and brands
See above.
10] Spraying entire shell (interior AND exterior) versus just spraying the exterior
Why would you not want to paint the inside as well? It's not that much more work, and the finished product is much better. I've seen way to many VWs with different colors on the inside, because POs were too lazy or cheap to get the inside painted as well. I never do a car without doing the inside.
11] What makes spraying a VW more difficult then spraying another car (curves) Practice Practice Practice. Flat panels are easy. There isn't a flat panel on a VW bug except the door. The gun needs to be exactly perpendicular to the surface your spraying, and that's why VWs are hard to paint. Again, I don't recommend a first time painter to try a VW. I'm not trying to be negative, just trying to be real. People think, Sure, I can try it, but a lot of times it doesn't look very good. To ease the painting, I paint VWs in 2 steps. I first paint the body shell without the hoods, doors, or fenders. Nothing, just the bare shell. Then I paint the body panels. I've done cars with all the stuff connected, but the removal method I found gave me a better finish.
12] How many gallons of paints are required
That depends on your coverage, mixture, and # of coats. I always figure 2 gallons, and that way I have enough for 3 color coats, and some touch up.
13] How many coats are recommended
Certainly no less than 2, I usually do 3 or 4. I also do 2-3 layers of primer as well.
14] Final color sanding to finish the job techniques
This all depends on how the finish turns out. Some finishes need very little rubbing out, while others need tons. I've never color sanded before, just buffing. Depending on the amount of overspray on the finish, you can use different grits of polishing compound. Light grit for small imperfections, while a heavy grit for lots of overspray, etc....
15] Estimate on how much money would be saved by doing it yourself
Again, that depends. For just the materials, I usually spend about $300. You can get a decent Maaco paint job for that much.
Hope this helps!
Mr.VW
'67 Deluxe Bus (daily driver, with IRS rear suspension) '68 Beetle '73 Beetle '74 Super
"An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips." jvreeman@NORTHPARK.EDU

1] Sandblasting techniques and tips
Only use it as a last resort. Old paint is addition protection. If the paint is good condition (not cracked or pealing) simply scuff it up with 600 grit sandpaper. Body filler is another story. Some people use it in place of a hammer and dolly.
2] Body preparation
Here is where you will make or break a paint job. Use black lacquer to litely dust the part you are painting. Use a soft block to sand the area. Where ever you see black you have a low area. Wherever you have paint or metal you have a high area. Fill or lower these areas accordingly. A primer mixed with a hardener such as 3+1 will work well to eliminate MINOR waves. Neither paint or primer should be thought of as filler. What you use for repairs is determined by what you know how to use. I'm most familiar with plastic filler (Bondo), fiberglass, leading and welding. Bondo should be used only after a major portion of the dent has been hammered out. There should really be no "dents" left after hammering only slight waves. Because Bondo is plastic it will crack if hit. It should not be used to fill holes in areas that provide support such as the lower section of the door posts (common area of rust for a VW). Fiberglass is excellent for repairing areas with curves. Find something that matches the curve you are working on. For example: a round plastic container that resembles a curve in a fender. Mix up your fiberglass and place a piece of saran wrap between the fiberglass sheet and the container. Push the container against the panel being repaired and brace it. Follow the (dis)structions for letting it setup. Again, never substitute fiberglass for metal in areas that provide support. Leading and welding is an art form. There is no way to tell someone how to do it. It must be showed and even then it must be practiced.
Finally, wash, wash, wash. Clean your car like you never have before. Clean all crevasses. Any dust left on the car will be blown around by the paint gun and ruin a paint job. When your washing a car it's important to keep the water flowing so that dirt doesn't settle. Don't forget to clean the silicon shiny stuff off your wheels and surrounding area.
3] What air pressure setup you used
Couldn't tell ya. I use the automotive schools that I am currently attending.
4] Setup of paint booth
We use a down-draft booth in my school. This type of booth draws air from the top to the bottom. This setup if favorable since it pulls your overspray down and away from the freshly painted area. Another type is Cross Ventilation. It's just like the name says. It pulls air from one side to the other, usually from front to back so your overspray is pulled away from the freshly painted area. I know of two different filtration systems. Paint-arrestor booth and a water-wash booth. Paint-arrestor booths use a filter screen and a water-wash use a waterfall effect similar to the way a stock oil bath aircleaner works in your VW.
5] What kind of paint gun is best
High Volume Low Pressure HVLP will save you a lot of money in wasted material. A HVLP gun uses, on the average, 66% less paint than a conventional gun. Over the years this will add up. I use a Sata NR95 for the main portion of the vehicle and a Sata Minijet for smaller items such as seat frames, engine tin, wheels ect. Sata guns are not cheap but they are nice. If you are ever in Germany pick one up. They are half price here.
6] Techniques to prevent drips and sags
Make sure your gun is adjusted every time you shoot. Never squirt any paint on the car till you are comfortable with the speed that your gun is set at. I find the best way to adjust a gun is to open it all the way up a give it a shot. Keep turning it down till you are comfortable. Stay parallel to the car and about six inches away. For a novice or beginner try a 1.3 or 1.5 needle. Any bigger and you will have a hard time controlling the flow of paint. I use an old hood to test my gun. Drips and sags are going to happen even to the most experienced painter. Knowing how to fix them is the difference between a pro and an amateur. I use a 1000 grit stone that is stored in water to sand away drips in the clearcoat. This stone is about two inches long by one high by one inch deep. Your local paint supply store should carry this item. Drips and sags in the basecoat must be sanded down and shot again. When you see a drip or sag developing stop shooting. Sounds simple but you would be surprised.
7] Spraying por-15 with a spray gun (their literature says it can be done)
Never tried it.
8] Basecoat, clear coat costs and brands
I'm still learning this technic and have not had to pay for anything yet. Brands we use are Sikens (sp?) and PPG.
9] Paint qualities and brands
See above.
10] Spraying entire shell (interior AND exterior) versus just spraying the exterior
A job worth doing is a job worth doing right. Do what you feel is right.
11] What makes spraying a VW more difficult then spraying another car (curves)
Exactly. Curves! Use extreme caution when buffing out your ride. Stay away from the corners. Buff those areas by hand. Your arm will tire quickly but it will save you from a horrible mistake. 3M makes some excellent products for buffing.
12] How many gallons of paints are required
Not sure. I haven't painted a bug yet. I know BLASPHEMY!
13] How many coats are recommended
I would go with 5 or 6 coats of clear to give you a lot of safety when buffing.
14] Final color sanding to finish the job techniques
Sand litely! Once you go through the clear and into the basecoat your screwed. Can you say "start over?"
15] Estimate on how much money would be saved by doing it yourself
Not as important as knowing the job was done right. Plus when you get a compliment on the paint job you can take pride in saying you did it yourself. When you go to car shows how many people do you think actually painted there own cars or did the upholstery? I can't take pride in a car that I had nothing at all to do with it's creation. Even if it's just doing the maintenance or installing carpet. At least you have invested your time and effort. You should always have a goal to learn how to do something with your car. I started with valves then moved to brakes and now I'm learning body and paint. All these will help you keep the cost of VWs to a minimum.
I hope this is clear (no pun intended I am by far not a pro. I just happen to be taking a paint class right now. As I learn more I will pass it along. ]
Chuck
charles.covington@ramstein.af.mil



1] Sandblasting techniques and tips
Only do this for heavy rusted metal parts. You can warp sheetmetal with a sandblaster. Also, once you have blasted a part, PRIME IT RIGHT NOW! Blasted metal rusts like nobody's business..
If you do this to the body, be prepared for years of trying to get sand out of all the cracks and nooks. If you don't clean it all, it will pop out while you spray paint, or trap moisture in the corners.
2] Body preparation
If the car has only one coat of paint, I wetsand the paint to remove the glaze (400 wet paper). If there's many coats of paint, strip the body with aircraft stripper. This is actually much faster than sandblasting, and an easier cleanup. Read and understand the label directions, and keep the stuff off trim and rubber/plastic parts.
Cleanliness is paramount in refinishing. Wash with detergent and lots of water after stripping and wetsanding. Use a cleaner that will remove all fingerprints and oil/wax (POR Marine Clean is good).
3] What air pressure setup you used
Depends on the gun you have, and the paint you use. High pressure guns can need up to 75 PSI, lpw pressure high volume guns use about 30 PSI, but lots more airflow.
4] Setup of paint booth
If you are lucky enough to have a booth, make sure it is well lighted and CLEAN. Clean or replace intake filters before you start. I find keeping the floor damp helps cut down on dust.
5] What kind of paint gun is best
Personal choice here. I use a high pressure gun I have had for 25 years. The newer low pressure guns are less messy (less overspray), and kinder to the air quality.
Some LP gun compressors also will supply clean air for a breathing mask. A must if you are spraying Imron or isocyanate activated paints, or epoxies.
6] Techniques to prevent drips and sags
Good spraying techniques help here. Keep the gun at a steady distance, and at right angles to the surface. Don't try to get a glossy surface on the first pass - the paint will flow out by itself if you mixed it right and the surface is prepped properly.
7] Spraying por-15 with a spray gun (their literature says it can be done)
Follow the instructions and CLEAN THE CRAP OUT right after spraying. Lacquer thinner works goos here.
I don't recommend using POR on surfaces that are not going to be subjected to rocks or sitting water. The stuff is too expensive to use everywhere, and is of dubious value, for instance, on the roof, or inside the front hood..
8] Basecoat, clear coat costs and brands
Personal preference. I use Du Pont mostly, but have had good results with Ditzler, RM, and other brands.
9] Paint qualities and brands
See above
10] Spraying entire shell (interior AND exterior) versus just spraying the exterior
I usually do the whole enchilada. Less overspray problems, and the paint always matches.
If the interior is good, and you are not changing colors, do the outside by all means. It's lots more masking to get a neat job if the shell is not stripped down..
11] What makes spraying a VW more difficult then spraying another car (curves)
No problem, just handle the gun properly. You want to avoid building up paint heavy in one spot and missing another. Just takes a good eye and a bit of practice.
12] How many gallons of paints are required
I get 1.5 gallons to do the whole Bug, inside and out, under the fenders, detail parts. I usually have more than a quart left over for touchups and oopses later..
If you are doing a wild custom, consider getting two gallons or more, and saving the leftover paint, tightly sealed, for later repairs, heaven forbid!
13] How many coats are recommended
For lacquer, as many as 15, with sanding and defect correction in the first few coats. For enamel, three or four is plenty. If you are going to color sand, add a couple coats to give material to remove. Clearcoats need three or four full coats after the color is done and final sanded. This lets you color sand and buff the clear without cutting through it.
14] Final color sanding to finish the job techniques
Use 600 wet paper for the first sanding, and 1500 for the final pass before buffing. If you did a good job with painting, and the paint flowed out nice (easy with lacquer), you can start with the 1500 right off. Be careful not to put pressure on sharp corners, like the edges of the hood and doors, so you don't cut all the way through the paint. Same advice while buffing - stay off the corners!
15] Estimate on how much money would be saved by doing it yourself
Up to 75% off the cost of a body shop. The paint is around $300 - $600, depending on color (reds are VERY $$) and type of paint.
Have at it with my comments. They are public domain as of now..
Chuck Kuecker Cary, Illinois
ckuecker@mcs.net
'83 Scirocco (Katy's car now) '58 Ghia Convert '75 Bug '67 Bug '63 Bug (*still* for sale) '91 Vanagon





I would like to add a very important point about painting vehicles. Whatever brand of paint you may use just be sure that the 4 steps necessary for good painting are done using compatible components. That means that each step must be carried out using only products that are approved and recommended by the paint manufactor.
To often well meaning store clerks will recommend certain products that are not really compatible but are recommended by wholesellers as just as good etc.
Don't be swayed by your desire to appearing knowledgeable and accept everything that the clerk tells you. Paint makers spend vast sums of money researching and developing the best system to provide the best paint job, don't let someone second guess them.
[color=darkblue]1.[/color] Clean the metal with a special cleaning compound designed to be used with their own system
[color=darkblue]2. [/color]Preparation of the surface of the metal for the next coat by etching the metal and neutralizing any rust.
[color=darkblue]3. [/color]A special undercoat to bond with the metal and provide a very hard undercoat.
[color=darkblue]4. [/color]Last a topcoat that will protect the previous coatings and has ultra-violet radiation protection. In ultra-violet radiation sunlight is the source that is the hardest on paint system. Jet aircraft because of their normal high altitude flying are especially subject to ultra-violet radiation. Therefore paints have been developed that afford the maximum protection possible.
When all of the above is used together, they are referred to as a System or Paint System.
Here is the name of an inexpensive manual on corrosion control and some references to some very good articles and books on corrosion control and painting. 1. Aircraft Corrosion Control by Crane, Dale $7.96 Available at this Web Bookstore. http://www.books.com/scripts/news.exe 2. http://www.type2.com/sermons/liturgy/paint_engine.html 3. http://www.type2.com/sermons/liturgy/engine_case_II.html Items 2 and 3 are two of Bob Hoovers sermons that if you haven't read them before are well worth your reading. To read all of them try this http://www.type2.com/sermons 4. Automotive Body Repair and Painting Manual, Haynes, 1479 US 5. VW Beetle and Transporter, Purchase and Restoration Guide, Porter, Lindsay, Pub. Haynes F474 One of the best I have read, really gets down to in body panel replacements, welding, painting etc. 6. How to Restore Your Collector Car, Brownell, Tom , Pub. by Motorbooks International. A very readable book that really gets into details. It answers a lot of the questions that I have seen on the net. 7. Basic Painting, Tips and Techniques. Clarke, R.M. Pub. Bookland Books Clarke has published quite a few good articles in Hot Rod Automotive Series. 8. A visit to any professional paint store that caters to the automotive repair and painting pro's will be very beneficial as far as handouts on various types of the new paints and various items that are useful in good painting.. I have found them to be most helpful when asked, a point to remember is that you should go there when their professional trade is slow, the early afternoon is a general good time. I think you will be surprised just how costly good paint is.
The last four books should be available from our own members that have VW books for sale or web bookstores. All of the above are very reasonable priced. We should support our web members who help us by handleing books that we need and should use. All of the above make for excellent bedtime reading like Muir is, or should be.
Austin Jack Smith


I am by far no body work expert, but I have been given some expert advise by several people who have been in the paint/show car/resto business for over 20 years.
Generally, they all say to strip off the old stuff. Your new paint job will only be as good as the prep job you did underneath ( I know all about this part). By leaving the old paint on (even the old filler too), you have no idea what is there, and run a risk of having something wierd happen when you apply new paint over it..
As far as the stripping process, I've used the liquid "stripper" (god I like that word) as well as using a DA air sander with 150-180 grit. The DA is cleaner and will sand off most everything right down to the bare metal. I've also heard about sand blasting, but never did that.
Then, I guess the next thing is to take care of all your little dings/dents/rust with however you want to handle it. Rust (holes in the metal) usually need to be cut out, and have new metal welded/brazed in place. Then using some good filler, you feather in the seams to match the original body metal. Dents (at least the large ones) on fenders are usually fixed by getting another fender. This will also hold true with deck lids, hoods, even doors. My car was basically dent free except for one fender. It was only a minor dent, so I hammered it out (gently) as much as I could, then applied 4 different thin layers of filler (one at a time, sanding each layer down) and sanded and sanded and sanded and sanded some more until I got it as perfect as I could live with. It's still not totally perfect, but unless you're a total perfectionist body person, you can't tell I even had a dent there.
Once all the dings/dents are taken care of, I was told to then apply some high quality primer sealer. Do not paint over bare metal!
Now, once you've done all this, wet sand. Wet sanding gets all the rough sand marks out of the base finish, along feathering the primer into the micro cracks/scratches left from your stipping process. Wet sanding will get the body totally perfect and ready for paint. Just prior to paint, you must wipe the whole car done with that wax/grease remover available at any auto paint supplier.
This is the word of a total "shade tree" mechanic/body guy/custom fabricator/VW owmer. I encourage anyone else on this list to help out here, us shade tree guys are no experts however I think I pointed you in the right direction IMO.
Rich '64 Bug
Richard_Schultz@TELEDYNE.COM

>I agree to an extent. However if you use a good primer with 3+1 hardner you >can fill some of the minor waves. Another coat of primer with the 3+1 will help with >minor low spots I >have been told by many people, including my current autopaint instructor, >that it is not nessisary to strip all the paint off. >Chuck Covington

>Generally, they all say to strip off the old stuff. Your new paint job >will only be as good as the prep job you did underneath ( I know all about >this part). By leaving the old paint on (even the old filler too), you >have no idea what is there, and run a risk of having something wierd happen >when you apply new paint over it..
I agree to an extent. However if you use a good primer with 3+1 hardner you can fill some of the minor waves. After you spray the primer you can take black laquer rattle can paint and lightly spray over the whole car (VERY lightly) you only won't a dusting. Then take a large soft sanding block (1/2 inch packing foam works well) and sand the area. Where ever you see black you have a low spot. Wherever you see paint or metle under the primer you have a high spot. Another coat of primer with the 3+1 will help with minor low spots but you will need to LIGHTLY tap down the high spots. I have been told by many people, including my current autopaint instructor, that it is not nessisary to strip all the paint off. There is a tool available that measures the thickness of paint and or filler. It looks like a pen with a magnet inside. The "pen" has measurments on the side to tell you how deep the paint and or filler is. I would recommend checking out how much filler is on a panel. Too much and it can crack under stress.
>Now, once you've done all this, wet sand. Wet sanding gets all the rough >sand marks out of the base finish, along feathering the primer into the >micro cracks/scratches left from your stipping process. Wet sanding will >get the body totally perfect and ready for paint. Just prior to paint, you >must wipe the whole car done with that wax/grease remover available at any >auto paint supplier. >
Use a 600 or higher grit sand paper for the wet sanding. Make sure the paper is for wet sanding. Regular sandpaper will loose its grit fast. Also use soapy water that way you are cleaning the part while you sand it. Prepsal works great. Also use a silicon remover. By all means do not ever use WD40 around a car you are preping for paint. Bad, bad, bad.
>This is the word of a total "shade tree" mechanic/body guy/custom >fabricator/VW owmer. I encourage anyone else on this list to help out >here, us shade tree guys are no experts however I think I pointed you in >the right direction IMO.
Well said Rich! "shade tree" mechanics are a dieing breed.
Chuck Covington chuck.jan@cyberdude.com 72 Super Beetle 60 Ragtop Kafer






Mark's First Time...
The HVLP I got was about $150 from a local auto-paint supply shop, and it works great! At least, I think it did. Haven’t ever used anything else, so I can’t compare. The brand name was AMP, I think. There were also some "name-brand” ones like DeVilbis for $200 or so, along with the $500-$1000 "professional” ones. The thing I heard about painting though was that it gets everywhere, there’s tons of overspray, etc. etc. With my gun, it was about as much overspray as a spray can of Rustoleum. I spent the weekend doing the fenders, and I just put them on the garage floor & sprayed away. We have toys on the garage wall and some cabinets that didn’t get a bit of overspray on them.
It’s taken me a long time to get the hang of this painting stuff. At first, I was using a 4” grinder with a sanding disk to remove the old paint, but that put swirl marks into the metal. Then I had to prime, sand, prime, sand until it got smooth again. Now I use a d/a pneumatic sander with 80 grit paper to grind away the PO’s paint job, then follow that with 180 grit before I prime it. Smoother than a baby’s butt. Then 2 or 3 coats of primer, which go on very easy. That primer I use is very forgiving - never made it drip once. The hard part comes when you put the top coat on. Maybe I’m not doing it right, but it seems to me there’s a micro-thin line between "splotchy orange-peel”, "mirror-glass perfection” and "drip drip drip”. The secret is to put the paint on wet so it’ll all ooze together and be shiny, but not so much that it’ll drip. It may drip 5 minutes later, so it takes practice. I got these 300-watt utility light bulbs from the hardware store, and with those shining and my face 18” away from the fender, I could watch the paint real close to see if I was getting enough/too much on. You also gotta hold the paint gun pretty close & keep it moving.
I used a 5hp/20gal sears craftsman compressor, and had plenty of air to spare. I had to add one of those contraptions that removes water, you know - with the glass bowl on the bottom and a valve to let the water out. I had 50’ of hose going to it (give the air time to cool off), then it hits this water extractor, then 25’ of hose to the gun.
That paint gun doesn’t use hardly any air - the box it came in said "1hp minimum compressor size”. Wish I had a little bit bigger compressor, just because the d/a sander uses so much air - the compressor wouldn’t cycle at all when I sanded. If I had it to do all over again, I just might have let someone else put the top-coat on. It probably would have looked better. Then again, even if it doesn’t look perfect, I did it all myself (big swollen hairless chest)...But there’s no way a shop would have gone through all the painstaking detail I did prepping the car. I removed everything - seats, carpet, headliner, dashboard, doors, lights, chrome. And I’m sure they would’ve just roughed up the paint & shot it, not tried to remove the old paint first.
? Mark
http://vwtrendsweb.com/tech/0408vwt_super/