Essential to any successful paint job is the right amount of prep work. It won’t matter how much your car paint job costs you, if you don’t have it prepped right it’s going to look horrible. If you are planning a new paint job for your car, you’ll need to determine if you need to remove car paint before hand. This isn’t always an easy question to answer, especially when so much of your car prep is so labor intensive anyway.
How much car paint should you remove? Scuff just the clear coat? Take it down to the base coat? Or go all the way and remove car paint till there’s nothing but bare metal left?
There’s a few simple guidelines to follow when you are trying to figure out how much paint to remove. If you need to know how to remove car paint, or just how much to to take off to begin with, this guide can help.
We’ll start with the basics to car paint, and determine whether you need to learn how to remove car paint or not. Here’s a few of the simple things to look at first.
Paint Gloss – Inspect the gloss of your existing coat of paint. if your car is suffering from a lack of luster in your paint, it’s a clear sign there’s something wrong.
Low paint gloss can often point to problems and defects in the paint job. Issues with your car paint like micro-cracking or checking may require more investigation. You can use a magnifying glass to take a look at specific problem areas, to check for discoloration caused by acid rain or contaminants. Either way the underlying issues to your gloss problem must be removed.
Adhesion – To make it simple, you’ll need to check and see if your car paint still has decent adhesion. Checking your finish for adhesion is simple enough. Sand a small area of your vehicle first and feather edge the surrounding edges of the test area.
If the edge does not crack or crumble, the adhesion of your old paint is still fairly decent. Signs of surface rust can be seen when the edge displays pitting or bubbling. If the test area lacks the right level of adhesion, you’ll need to take the paint down to the bare metal.
Even if your paint job still looks halfway decent, you’ll need to prep your car for paint. This means you will be sanding, scuffing and cleaning to remove dead film and contaminants that can ruin your new paint job.
Remove Car Paint – Using a Blaster
Many people don’t know this but there’s several different kinds of media blasters to remove car paint. Blasters are typically just air powered guns that use different forms of abrasives to remove car paint. When you need a lot of paint removed fast and your car prepped quick, there’s no faster way to do it than with a blaster.
Blasting can be a far more efficient process to remove car paint than grinding. This is especially true in late model vehicles with thin walled body panels. Because blasting doesn’t thin or actually remove any metal, it’s also preferred by body shops as well.
It can also access areas that your sander can’t possibly hope to reach. It’s safer than chemical paint stripping and many blasters come with variable speeds and nozzles. This gives you far more control to how much paint you are taking off, and what rate to remove car paint.
Types of Paint Blasters
There are several different kinds of media blasters that you can use to remove car paint. The more common kinds use sand or plastic beads that are forced through an air nozzle to remove layers of paint.
Siphon blasters are very common and can be found cheap. They are ideal to remove your car paint because they use compressed air to draw the media from a reservoir. Because the pressurized air creates the vacuum, this device is very simple and straightforward.
Portable blasters such as cart mounted sand blasters or bottle blasters can be great for spot duty. If you have access to a blasting room it’s always the best way to remove car paint. Blasting rooms feature large metal doors that enclose the vehicle and the media being blasted so you don’t waste any. Many body shops can also rent you the right facility to prep your own vehicle, and many times these dedicated rooms can feature media recovery systems.
Whatever media and blaster you prefer, the high-velocity blaster you are using is capable of tremendous force.
This is why you must take the proper safety precautions no matter what form of media you are using. Make sure to use all the necessary gear which can include gloves, eye
protection, head gear or a helmet as well as a respirator.
Respirators are often overlooked but should always be used. Silica sand blasting can create dust that can build up in your lungs over time.
Before proceeding to use your sand blaster to remove car paint, check the manufacturer specifications to pressure, load procedure as well as any safety measures.
Types of Blasting Media
Plastic Beads – Otherwise known as plastic pebbles or beads, this kind of media requires a heavy duty blaster. It’s best used on vehicles with thin body panels or custom fiberglass bodywork that is thin and prone to cracking. Plastic blasting is a fast way to remove car paint and it won’t warp the body panels as easily as sand blasting can.
Silica Sand – One of the most common means to remove car paint, sand blasting uses hard silica sand. This sand is powerful and can warp thin panels or soft aluminum panels. Effective and heavy, it can remove rust and generate quite a bit of heat which can cause warpage if you are not careful.
Soda Compounds – Using highly pressurized compressed air and a fine powder or even baking soda, this form of media is very effective. Combined with water this kind of media keeps temperature and dust to a minimum. The only problem then becomes the huge mess that this kind of media blaster can cause. This form of media isn’t a very popular form of blasting and is usually reserved for professionals who want to remove specific layers of paint.
How To Remove Car Paint with a Blaster
There’s a few simple steps to follow when you want to remove car paint effectively with the media blaster of your choice.
Masking – Mask off the areas of your vehicle you do not want affected by your blaster. If this is a spot repair, take the proper measures to make sure that none of the media can affect other areas of your paint.
Mask your wheel covers and all your windows and window trim. Use thick duct tape and plastic tarp that’s capable of handling the beating your blaster will dole out. If you have aftermarket panels or bumpers made out of fiberglass, take extra measures to protect those areas.
Blast Away – Begin to apply the abrasive material directly onto the area desired. Eventually you will see your paint strip away as you remove car paint using your media blaster. This area should turn white or gray. Blasting will also create a texture that makes an excellent surface for your primer to cling to.
If there’s no sign of rust or brown splotches, take down the pressure of your media blaster and to evenly remove car paint. Always use the recommended distance for your blaster for maximum efficiency. Your media should strike the vehicle at a 20- to 30 degree angle so it doesn’t fly right back at you.
Clean – Use an air compressor to properly clean the vehicle thoroughly to prevent any contaminates or media from ruining your new paint job.
Have any questions about our guide to remove car paint? Leave us a comment below and let us know!