Every motorcycle enthusiasts loves to give their ride a custom look. Most people do not want to tackle painting their motorcycle themselves, and paying for a professional paint job can be expensive. Do not worry though I felt the same way, but with Dupli-Color paint products and this how-to instruction you will be able to tackle your project with ease. At the end of this how article are links to all the products I purchase and use for my personal projects.
First Step: Stripping The Paint
Stripping the paint is probably the easiest thing to do because there is not much you can mess up. All you have to do is start with a heavy grit sand paper and go to town. The goal here is not to get down to bare metal if you are painting on a metal surface nor to sand out any imperfections in your body work such as major scratches from a crash or minor dents. You just want to sand through at least the clear coat. It is ok to paint on top of the original paint. It is best practice to start sanding with 100 grit or 120 grit sand paper and work your way up to the finer grits. The lower number indicates a rougher grit. The higher number such as 1200 or 2000 grit is very fine which is used right before you start putting your base coat on.
Second Step: Prepping The Surface
Once you are satisfied with how much paint you have stripped off your part it is time to prep the surface. Again, you do not have to strip all the paint off just the top clear coat. If there are any imperfections in your surface such as major scratches that would require too much sanding to fix or even minor dents they should be filled in with body filler. It is important to sand through the clear coat first to help the filler adhere to your bodywork. I used a product from 3M. It was very easy to use and this is what professional body shops use as well. It comes with two parts; the filler and the hardener. Follow the steps on the back and mix the appropriate proportions together and spread it over the damaged areas. Keep applying this product until the imperfection is filled in. I had a minor some minor dents in my tank which I filled in. They were very small and not worth paying someone to pull them out which can sometimes cause more damage.
Third Step: Sanding
After filling in all the imperfections in your bodywork you are going to want to sand all that down. At this point you are going to want to sand up through the grits working your way from 120 grit to 220 grit to 400 grit to 600 grit. After all this sanding your bodywork should start to feel pretty smooth. The more time you spend sanding in this step the better your paint job is going to come out. A great paint job is all done in the prep-work.
Fourth Step: Spraying Primer and More Sanding
It is time to finally start laying down some paint. Spraying paint is not difficult nor does it take a lot of skill. There are four main things you need to focus on when spraying the paint. First, is keep the nozzle of the spray can roughly twelve inches away from the surface you are painting. Second, is you want to start with spraying the edges first all the way around the bodywork before doing your large surfaces. Third, when spraying the large surfaces you want to move along the entire length of the bodywork and over spray off the part. You do not want to start spraying and stop in the middle of the painting surface. This will leave a spray mark which can be hard to blend in to your paint job to make it look uniform. Fourth, thing is to move your hand at a steady pace, in a back and forth motion to help apply the paint evenly. The nice thing is when you are spraying your primer this is practice for getting your technique down before you apply your base coats. If you apply the primer a little too thick in some arears and it runs; no big deal just go back to the third step and sand it down apply more primer if needed before proceeding.
Fifth Step: Apply Base Coat
This should be the easiest part of your paint job. Let your primer dry almost completely to the touch if not completely dry before you apply your base coat which is your color. I used dupli-colors perfect match paint cans for my color base coat and clear coat. The reason being is their patented spray nozzle they use on every can. It is designed to spray a wide fan like pattern unlike typical spray cans. This means your paint has a better chance of laying on evenly and coming out perfect! In this step you still need to use those four spraying techniques I mentioned in the Fourth Step. Your coats do not have to be thick. Do not try to fully coat your surface in one try you want to layer the paint on. You do want your layers or coats to dry before spraying another layer, but not completely to the touch. It is ok and preferred to spray on coats when the surface is still damp. This allows the paint to adhere to the surface better, and for your layers of paint to blend.
Sixth Step: Apply Top Coat
We are almost done and by now your project should be looking pretty sexy already! Before you spray your clear coat examine your paint surfaces and make sure you coated everything evenly and didn’t miss any hard to get areas. If their our runs in your base coat then sand them down using a very fine grit sand paper and re-apply your base coat paint in the area you fixed. Once you are happy with how your base coat looks spray on your clear coat. The clear coat helps prevent damage to your base coat from scratches, dirt, and chemicals. Again when spraying your clear coat use the techniques I described in the Fourth Step. If you get any runs or areas where the clear coat is too heavy, sand it down with extremely fine sand paper and re-spray your clear coat.
Extra Steps: Wet Sand
Wet sanding is exactly what it sounds like; you literally sand your project down with wet sandpaper and when the surface of your part is wet. That last part is very important EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE WET! Water is very important and you cannot over use water in this step so make sure you are constantly re-wetting your surface and sand paper throughout this process. When you start this process it may seem as though you are ruining your paint job, don’t worry this will actually…..buff out. In this step you want to use 1500 and above grit sandpaper nothing course. We are simply sanding out small imperfections in the clear coat called “orange peel.” If you look very close to your freshly cleared surface and you see little dimples in the paint that is called orange peel. This is not a problem it happens even when paint is sprayed on using a professional spray gun and in a booth which is why it is not necessary, but man it really does look good when you are finished. Also do not wet sand parts of your bodywork that cannot be buffed back out. Some areas on motorcycle bodywork in particular can be hard to reach using a buffer, so keep that in mind when wet sanding.
Extra Step 2: Compound Buff (for this step you will need an electric buffer)
This is it! The final and last step to perfection! Once you are happy with how smooth your surface is after wet sanding it is time to buff out those little scratches left behind from the fine grit sand paper. Do not use a top coat wax product. There is a specific type of product you want to use that is slightly abrasive to help remove those scratches without adding more, a buffing compound. I used a compound from the company 3M. You do not need to use a lot of it, nor do you want to stay in one spot for very long when compound buffing. Think of it as an extremely fine liquid sand paper. Stay in one spot for too long and you can eat through your paint and make sure you keep re-applying your compound throughout this step.
Congratulations! Now your project is finished and it is time to show off your hard work to your buddies and make them jealous. If you want to go the extra mile though and really wow them the two extra steps are for those people out there that want perfection! You do not have to wet sand your project down after spraying the clear coat. The wet sand and buffing steps is to give your project that high end glass like finish that we see and dream about on show cars. That’s why I called it an extra step. I honestly did not need to do this especially because the dupli-color spray cans applied the paint superbly. This was the first time I used their products and I will always use their products on my future projects.
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