Auto Paint Repair

How to Use Auto Paint Primer Effectively


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Auto paint primer is a vital part of the refinishing process. It protects the metal on the car and forms a good surface that helps the paint adhere well. Knowing the types of auto paint primer and how to use it means that the refinishing of your vehicle will progress more smoothly and the end result will look a great deal better.

Tools and Materials 

  • Primer
  • Spray gun
  • Paintbrush
  • Sandpaper 

Step One - What Type Of Primer?

There isn’t just one type of car paint primer. You’ll find there are several, such as epoxy primer, urethane primer, high fill primer, and more. What you need to establish is the type of primer you need for your particular job. In some cases you’ll simply be covering metal prior to painting. Even here you need to be careful, as some types of primer aren’t meant to be exposed to the weather. That means you can’t spend a week driving around with it before you paint.

Step Two - Preparation

In all cases, you need to prepare the surface, which should be bare metal, before you apply auto paint primer. The metal needs to be clean and free of grease. Use a good cleaner on it, then rinse dry to ensure no soap residue remains.

Step Three - Etching Primer

Etching primer is ideal for areas where you have a little rust that you can’t easily remove. It doesn’t remove the rust, but will prevent it's spread. You should only use it where there are tiny spots of rust. You can use high build primer on top of thin coats of etching primer to build up a dent to the level of the panel.

Step Four - Epoxy Primer

With epoxy primer, there’s the primer and an activator. You can use it underneath a filler, but it has to be on bare, prepared metal in order to bond properly. It prevents corrosion. Be aware that the air temperature needs to be high enough for the epoxy primer to cure fully. If it doesn’t, you could end up with topcoat failure. You can apply several coats of epoxy primer.

Step Four - Urethane Primer

Urethane primer gives good coverage, and you can apply several coats of it over filler. With this type of auto paint primer, there’s no loss of gloss in the top coat of paint. It’s become the preferred alternative to lacquer primer, as it covers better and gives better results.

Step Five - Sanding

No matter what type of auto paint primer you use, it will still need to be sanded before you paint. This is a vital step to help the paint bond to the primer. Use a fine grit sandpaper and sand the primer to be completely smooth and level with the rest of the panel. When you’ve done that, wash down the primer to remove all the dust before you let the vehicle dry and then paint. How many coats of primer you use will depend on the type of auto paint primer and what you’re covering.

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