The original thread from the Mopar forums has been around long enough for this technique to have been applied with varying results to several other types of cars. While it can create a smoother, more even finish than rattlecans and can last longer than the typical $250 job that Maaco offers, the results are entirely dependent on the amount of time you devote to the job. It is suggested in the original article that an enamel thinned appropriately and laid in several coats with diligent wet-sanding in between and afterwards.
Although a set ratio of thinner to paint is not provided, it is suggested that laying slightly more paint to thinner as the coats progress. It is also recommended that this method be applied to a single panel or small area before attempting to paint the entire car. This allows for some decent trial-and-error experimentation to help achieve better results in the end product.
The following pictures and process come from Playbass311’s writeup. Results using the details outlined here should be considered as typical only when using the materials and procedure outlined below.
Time: 7-14 days
Cost: varies, as low as $50
– Several high-density foam rollers and brushes
– Random orbital buffer
– Sanding block
– 1-2 quarts of Interlux Brightside polyurethane enamel
– 1-2 quarts of Interlux Brushing Liquid 333 or mineral spirits
– Waterproof sandpaper of varying grits appropriate for all stages of sanding (180-2000)
– Spray bottle and chamois
– Decent 3-step polishing compound
*Note* Attempt the process in its entirety on a spare panel before painting the whole car. It is important that you practice the technique and proper use of materials to obtain the best results!
Begin by thoroughly washing the car with dish soap or other oil-cutting soap. A lot of car wash soaps contain chemicals or compounds that are designed to be left on the paint after rinsing, and you don’t need any of those for this project.
Remove any trim pieces and clean around them, and mask off glass or plastic that you do not want sanded/painted.
Begin sanding the car using a low-grit paper, at most 180 grit. Continue sanding with progressively finer sheets until around 400-600 grit.
After the car is appropriately sanded, consider any bodywork you want to accomplish before proceeding. Fill dents with Bondo as needed.
After prepping the car, wash it again with dish soap to remove any remains of dust or oil from your hands. Let it dry well before proceeding (at least several hours)!
Although this method has the benefit of relatively low chance of picking up dust etc… from the surrounding area, you may want to clean up your garage or shed as a precaution.
==Painting the First Coats==
It is important that you DO NOT HAVE THE PAINT SHAKEN. Stir by hand to prevent air bubbles from forming. For the first few coats, I suggest mixing with about 10% of either the brushing fluid or mineral spirits. After mixing, let it sit for about 20 minutes so that any air bubbles can escape.
Next, wipe down the car with the thinner and then go over the whole car with a tack cloth to pick up any left over dust and debris.
Now you are ready to paint, grab two rollers in your hand, one loaded with paint, and one clean.
Gently lay down the paint, not applying too much with each coat (I learned the hard way). If you apply to much or push too hard you will get a lot of orange peel as well as roller marks.
After you have covered the whole panel, go back with the clean roller and gently, with just the weight of the roller, go over the area you just painted to help pop any air bubbles as well as assisting the paint to level and smooth out the roller lines.
Even after the first coat or two the paint shouldn’t necessarily have full coverage, in fact, if it does, its going on too thick, which is okay only if you like spending hours and hours wetsanding.
To do any small and tight spots, just dip the foam brush in the paint and barely graze over the needed areas, or use the rounded end of the roller if you can fit it.
Depending on the previous color and how thin the paint is, you will lay on anywhere between 4 and 8 coats total.
You’re going to want at least 2 coats before you wetsand (assuming you laid the paint down as thin as you should have). Allow the paint about 24 hours to cure before wetsanding, this will vary with the weather, the colder it is, the longer you’ll want to wait.
For the first wetsand, you should use 600 grit paper making sure you keep the area wet with the spray bottle (with a tiny bit of dish soap in it) and wiping it off to see how level it is with the squegee. The idea is to only sand the high spots, and not to sand the low spots. Be sure to change your paper frequently, the sand paper wears out faster than you think. When you are done your care should be a pretty uniform dull color.
Wash the car when you are done and let it dry for 18 to 24 hours, just to make sure no water will get in the paint.
==Painting the Second Coats==
Repeat with another 2 coats, thinned less than the first two and wetsand using 800 grit this time.
After 2 more coats, wetsand with 1000 grit, and then wash, and wetsand with 1500 grit, wash, and wetsand finally with 2000 grit.
Now, you are ready to compound. Be aware that if you have any major areas of peel left over that you will most likely not get them out in compunding, and should go back and wetsand again (which unfortunately is what I have to go do).
Do small areas at a time and be sure not to go to hard as you may burn through the paint. Some people say its best to do this the day after the final coat, others say its better to do after a month or so, you be the judge.
After you have done the whole car, wipe off any left over/splatter, and repeat using the swirl remover, and polish. By this point, your paint should feel super smooth.
With the polish, you will need to apply a little bit more pressure. the polish is what should bring out that nice pretty shine.
Finally, you will want to seal all of your work in with wax, I’ve heard the best results with some type of pure carnauba wax, Meguiar’s tech wax, and other various high end waxes. Just make sure you don’t cheap out here and have your paint fade because you didn’t seal it up well enough.
Some finished pics:
1.) Practice on a spare part or hunk of metal you have laying around to get the technique down
2.) Do this with more than just you, it will save you a lot of time and work
3.) Dont skip out on the prep and filling, the car will only look as good as how you prepped it.
4). If a panel starts going to hell, take either a thinner soaked roller or rag to it and you can remove what you just put on and try to re-apply it.
5.) Dont rush it like I did, because now I have to go back and re-wetsand, compound, polish, etc.
6.) Finally, dont get discouraged, it may look like crap at first, but chances are, it probably looked even worse before if you are resorting to using rollers on your car, so just use that to motivate you.