Painting a VW, please help a naive person:

For sometime now, I have been tempted to rattle can my VW. I do not have a compressor, but I have the desire to get a good, but cheap paint
job complete. Any ways, I was wondering if anyone could walk me through the paces on painting a car?
I imagine it goes something like this: sand the paint off--with what, I have no idea--wash the old paint off, degrease, spay a coat of primer, sand again--again, with what, I have no idea--spray the primer, and spray the clear coat-- I have no clue what type of clear coat to use. Also, what types of sandpaper will I be using? Most of the car is metal, but it does have a tad of plastic on the bumper, so what would do well with the plastic? Will I be using sand paper or those blocks? Finally, and I do apologize for all these questions, how long will I have to wait for the paints to dry, before I move on top the next painting step? I imagine the longer I wait, the better the end result will be. Since it's winter, I will not be taking this car on the road until it's done. In the same sense, I want to make sure to get the sanding and degreasing done before the weather become frigid.
I'd really appreciate it if someone could treat me as the village idiot and walk me through the paces.
I am meticulous when it comes to prep work and doing things the right way. If someone lists what needs to be done, I'll do my best to get the work done.
By the way, this will be done in a clean, ventilated garage, and luckily the car has no body or rust damage.
Thanks for any help that you can give me,
Michael
PS
Please do not e-mail the listed e-mail address, because that is not a real e-mail address.
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I've posted this before, & saved it for this reason. ;^P I've been painting cars for 30 years... On a good paint job (which are all I do :-) I would spend a minimum of $400 in materials prepping that car (not including paint). I use only catalyst-hardened primers & paints, starting with PPG epoxy primer & building up imperfections for blocking with Sikkens high-build primer (if needed). Then another coat of epoxy as a sealer before spraying a *minimum* amount of basecoat color(s) (just enough to cover well) & topping off with Sikkens clear. I keep buildup to a minimum to minimize chipping. These paint jobs will last for at least 20 years if the car is parked outside; probably 50 or more if taken care of. Just wanted to prepare you for the sticker shock when you start buying materials. Of course, you can cut alot of corners, & you most likely won't use the high-dollar Sikkens stuff. But seal it with epoxy at least, as it will minimixe shrinking & make the paint stick better. Use base-coat clear-coat to guard against UV rays (the clear keeps it from fading). Here again, the paint & clear cost may be higher than a soild color, but it'll be worth it. If you want to do it right, take EVERYTHING off of the car that you can; all trim, door handles, lights, etc. (This includes fenders, doors, hoods, etc. if you *really* want to do it right.) Sand it THOROUGHLY, all the way up & into the corners & crevices. CLEAN it THOROUGHLY with a good "wax & grease remover": wipe it on with a clean cloth & wipe it dry with another clean cloth - don't let it air dry. Do it twice to make sure you get all the wax & grease off of the surface. DO IT A DOZEN TIMES BEFORE PAINTING IF YOU'VE BEEN USING SILICONE ANY WHERE AROUND THE VEHICLE. Well maybe not a dozen, but AT LEAST three. Silicone will travel through the air for hundreds of feet, & make the paint "fisheye" (seperate from the surface leaving small craters). Well, those paragraphs kinda get ahead of us here... Anyway, here is the basic sequence you'll want to use. 1) Metal work. This means hammering out/working the dents, changing parts like fenders, & lining up all the body panels (hood, fenders, doors, & trunklid). A good rule of thumb when working metal is to use two blows instead of one; that is, work out the dents slowly so as to not stretch the metal. Start with lining the doors to fit the body at the 1/4 panel & around the opening. Then line the fenders to the doors, & the hood to the fenders. (well this dosen't apply to the bug :-) - just make sure everything lines up. 2) Stripping. You may not need to, but probably will 'cause most older cars have alot of paint on them & it's not a solid base to shoot over. The DA I mentioned before - if you find a *real* DA that locks down - will usually do a good job of taking it down to bare metal using 80 grit in the lock-down mode. I use an 8-inch air buffer & 80 grit most of the time. If that dosen't work (if the paint is too soft & fills up the paper too soon) use a chemical stripper. I use "Aircraft Stripper" (brand name). 3) Filler. This means bondo :-) Use any good brand name, the new ones with "micro spheres" are probably the best. If you strip the car to metal, & have the money to spend, go ahead & put one good thick (not reduced) coat of epoxy on it. If not, grind ALL the paint off of the areas that need filling back several inches beyond the dented area. You do not want bondo over anything but bare metal (or fiberglass) or epoxy primer - no exceptions! Sand the bondo with 40 grit to start with. When you've got it just about right, finish with 80 grit. Use a flat block on the flat areas & whatever it takes on the rounded contours. Any block that fits your hand & the sandpaper will work. On "outside" rounded areas the flat block will work if you "roll" it over the surface diagonally at 45 degrees in both directions. On inside curves, use a flexable pad or peice of PVC - things like that. Always change directions when sanding, & try not to sand in a straight line. 4) Priming/blocking. Once you're finished with the filler, prime it. I again use a coat of epoxy & then two or three coats if needed of high-build primer on the areas that were worked. *Very important* - give the primer several days if you can to completely dry before blocking. Spray some black "guide coat" paint (flat black laquer works well) over the primed areas in a very light mist. Don't try to cover the surface, just let a light mist fall on it. Block the primer using a block or if you can find one a good paint paddle. For large flat areas, Home Depot has some 5-gallon paddles that work well, On smaller areas & rounded surfaces a regular paddle works well if you can find a flat/straight one. The smaller one will flex a little, allowing you to put pressure where you need it (on the high spots & rounded surfaces) to knock the surface down. Wrap the full sheet of paper around the paddle & tear off two sides as the paper wears out. Start with 180 grit - wet if you can, with a trickle flowing over the surface as you sand. Finish with 220 to 320 grit. The high/low spots will become apparent as soon as you start sanding using the guide coat. Block everything untill it's smooth - all the guide coat will be gone. One thing to remember: when initially trying to flatten an apparent low spot, you have to sand the entire area around it down to where that surface is - you don't actually sand the spot that's not smooth untill the area around it is down. If an area is too low to block out (you start to hit metal), use a catalyst-hardened putty to fill it. I use Fiberglass Evercoat (brand name) I think it's #406. Re-prime the blocked areas. If needed, block & re-prime again. Again let the primer dry. 5) If everything looks good, it should be ready to sand & shoot. Sand with 400 or 500 wet (500 for base-clear). On older cars that have rubber around the glass (*like* the V-Dub :-), you can usually use 1/8 inch rope under the edge of the rubber to hold up the rubber & paint under it. Of course it's better if you pull (remove) the glass & rubber too. Size of rope depends on the car/rubber. If 1/8 disapears, use larger. *Very important* - clean the surface with wax & grease remover as mentioned above. Shoot the paint. 6) For a *nice* clear-coat finish, sand with 1000 or 1200 grit wet using a firm "sponge pad". On rounded areas, a softer sponge pad works well. They're available at the auto paint store (or should be). Buff with a "micro-finishing" compound & polish/clean with a product for new paint (foam polishing pad glaze). Don't paste wax until the paint has dried a *least* a month. HTH ;^p ~Paul aka "Tha Driver"
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Sounds like you are a pro. So do you paint cars for the average person or just "show" cars?
If so whereabouts are you so some of us can have you paint our cars? Hopefully close to Chicago. ;-)
thanks!
later, dave (One out of many Daves)
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So do you paint cars for the average person or just "show" cars?

********* I'm above Atlanta. ~ Paul aka "Tha Driver"
Giggle Cream - it makes dessert *funny*!
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Mike wrote:

<SNIP>
Sorry. Good and cheap don't belong in the same sentence.
Stop by the local library and browse the "how-to" automotive section.
Even easier: Do a GOOGLE search for: DIY + auto + painting (or something similar). Thousands of hits.
I admire your willingness to tackle a home paint job; arm yourself with the basic knowledge needed before putting sandpaper to paint. Everyone who has ever done painting (even the experts) started at the same point you are at now.
Speedy Jim http://www.nls.net/mp/volks /
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I believe another important issue will be your lungs. Modern automotive paint ("base coat/clear coat") will destroy your lungs unless you have a positive pressure air mask on. Forget about the filter type masks that you strap on your face. Somebody correct me but you could probably spray acrylic enamel paint like Dupont Centauri as long as you don't use hardener. You'll get a fairly decent paint job, just not quite as durable and shiny. I believe you could then get away with an organic vapor respirator in that case.

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Take an evening course at a local votech high school - they teach you the basics and often let you work on your car there and use the schools equipment. Rattle cans are a waste of time - youd be better off stripping the car, sanding it and haveing MAACO or Earl Schieb shoot it for $400 and then you put it all back together. EPA has made it very hard to paint a car in your garage any longer! .

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You will end up spending just as much money on primer and paint as if you went to Earl Sheib or Maaco except you will get much worse results. You wil kick yourself if you go through all that labor and end up with a crappy looking car because paint out of a spray can will not hold up over time. I would suggest that you do the prep work yourself, bnasically strip the car down and then have a shop do the rest. --Dan E
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