• An Auto Body Refinishing Guide

    Auto body refinishing isn’t too difficult once you know what you’re doing. You need to be organized and methodical but if you understand the steps, the process will go smoothly. If you have the right materials and tools on hand and approach everything with confidence, auto body restoration can be an enjoyable job.


    Remove all trim and emblems for the area you’ll be working on. You’ll need to clean the metal thoroughly. Start with soap and water, and then progress to a grease and wax remover. Once you’ve done that, use masking tape and plastic to protect the surrounding areas.


    You need to take out rusted areas and sand the surrounding space down to bare metal. There are products available to treat corrosion, so use these if you find any. With tiny rust patches, you might be able to sand them out. To replace rusted metal, use a patch of 22-18 gauge metal and weld it in place. The torch shouldn’t be too hot, however, or you could warp the metal. Make sure you keep a fire extinguisher handy whenever you’re welding.


    With dents, the thing to remember is to pull them out in the opposite direction from which they were inflicted. If another vehicle dents your car, you need to pull the dent outwards. That’s a standard part of auto body refinishing. Any small dents left can be filled. You shouldn’t have filler to a depth of more than 3/8-inch. This prevents later cracking. Put it on in several layers, sanding between each one. After the final layer has dried, sand the filler smooth with the rest of the body. When you do this, take care to feather the edges of the paint around the area. This will help when you come to painting.


    Use a primer that’s urethane-based to give the best coverage and protection to the metal or the filler. When you’ve let the primer dry completely, sand it down. The best way is called block sanding, with the fine grit sandpaper wrapped around a ridged block of wood. You will also need to sand the gloss of the whole panel before you paint. This will help the new paint bond well. The sandpaper needs to be very fine, about 500 grit, and you should just sand lightly.

    Once you’ve finished that, wash the panel to remove all the grit and leave the surface ready for auto body finishing. Let it dry thoroughly.


    Start by masking off the areas around the panel. Be very careful in placing the tape or you could end up ruining your auto body restoration. Make sure you have the correct equipment for painting. This means a good spray gun, a respirator mask and a paint booth where you can paint safely. You’ll also need a quality spray gun to do a good job and give a good finish. Expect to apply several coats of paint, each one thin and building up.