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How to Apply Touch Up Paint

  • The pints, quarts and gallons of basecoat, midcoat, clear and primer are ready to spray and do not require thinning.
  • If you get paint on your skin, remove with paint thinner and wash thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Do not try to use the paint pen on areas larger than a pencil eraser. Larger areas must be sprayed.
  • Paint can easily leak out of the paint pen if you do not use it correctly!
  • Do not try to brush areas larger than a dime. Larger areas must be sprayed.
  • Use an approved automotive paint respirator and WEAR safety goggles and gloves when handling automotive paint to protect your eyes and skin!! Please read the information below for best results.
  • When spraying, always test for paint compatibility. Paint an inconspicuous part of the vehicle, let dry and see if there is any reaction. 
  • Do not spray our paint over enamel paint that is less than two years old. 
  • Do not spray primer, paint or clearcoat in direct sunlight!
  • First time? Did you know you can completely remove any new paint with automotive lacquer thinner and start over without damaging the original finish?
  • Make sure you use SEM Adhesion Promoter if you are spraying a non-metal surface. Failure to do so will result in the paint peeling off within a few months!
Detailed Paint Pen Instructions
Detailed Brush Cap Bottle Instructions
Detailed Spray Can Instructions
More Tricoat (base/mid/clearcoat) Information

Using your own Spray Equipment

Water Based Paint Information

stepsapplyclearcoatrubbing compound
Fixing a scratch using the Paint Pen. More info..

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You CAN do this
If you are wondering if you can really apply touch up paint to your vehicle, and make it look good, the answer is yes! Just read the instructions first and take your time.

Testing the Color Match
ALWAYS test the paint before applying it to your vehicle! You are responsible for making sure the paint matches by testing the color BEFORE you apply it to your vehicle! If the color is off, the clearcoat or the primer WILL NOT HELP to make the color match better! If you apply the paint to your vehicle and it doesn't match, you will have to wash it off with automotive lacquer thinner or worse, if you allow it to thoroughly dry, you will have to sand it off."

Take a little time and practice using the touch up paint before you apply it to your car. This will give you a good feel for the paint and you can check the color match. Use a surface such as a metal can, a glossy sheet of paper, etc. to practice on. Use several light coats rather than one heavy coat when brushing or spraying the paint. Make sure you let the paint dry properly. If you really want an excellent repair, don't skip practicing!

Paint Pens, Brushing and Spray cans
Do not try to use the paint pen on areas larger than a pencil eraser. Do not try to brush areas larger than a dime. If you do, the area will look very uneven. When you apply metallic paint with a pen or brush, the metallic flake will not lay down properly. Even with a perfect paint match the paint will look darker. Save yourself lots of grief and use a spray can for larger areas!

Paint Spraying-Humidity and Temperature Warning!
Make sure you do not spray in wet or humid conditions! Do not spray in direct sunlight. To test the humidity, spray some of the clearcoat and see how it dries. If it dries with a whitish haze or streaks, it's too humid to paint! Spray paint should be applied when the temperature is at least 70°F and the humidity is below 50%.

Drying Times
It is important to let the basecoat dry before applying the clearcoat and letting the clearcoat dry before polishing. Usually letting the paint dry overnight is sufficient. Drying times can really vary depending on the temperature. If the temperature is below 70°F, the paint can take much longer to dry.

Paint Compatibility Warning
If you have had your vehicle painted at Maaco, Earl Schieb or any other inexpensive paint shop within the last two years, our paint will lift your paint. If in doubt, you can paint a small inconspicuous part of the car and check for lifting. 

Key Scratches
The paint pens work well on key scratches as you can easily control the amount of paint and apply it to the scratch. Try to follow the scratch as closely as possible with the basecoat. Apply the clearcoat and use rubbing compound to smooth and shine the area. 

If you have an unpainted surface, either bare metal, plastic, rubber, etc., APPLY PRIMER! Primer is made to stick to unpainted surfaces and paint is designed to stick to primer!  Primer can also be used to fill small imperfections in the surface. 

If you are painting a flexible surface (such as a rubberized bumper) and you are spraying the paint, you should order the SEM Adhesion Promoter as this is required for proper adherence for the primer to the surfaces. The adhesion promoter is only required when you are spraying the paint and not for the touch up bottles and paint pens.

Clean the area of all dust with a tack rag and apply primer to the unpainted surfaces. Make sure you let the primer dry thoroughly before applying the color coat. Lightly sand the primed area with #220 grit sandpaper followed by #600 wet and dry.

Obtaining a Glossy Finish with Rubbing Compound
Our clearcoat requires a final polishing with rubbing compound (which we sell on our site) to make the finish glossy. Do not use polishing compound, it is not aggressive enough to polish the clearcoat. There is a big difference between rubbing and polishing compound. Also, do not use heavy duty rubbing compound as this is too aggressive and will dull your finish. If you are spraying a large area, we recommend having the area machine polished as trying to polish the area by hand would be time consuming and require considerable pressure to obtain the proper gloss. You can use polishing pads with your electric drill, or go to your nearest detail shop and have them polish it for you. Machine polishing takes skill and it's very easy to burn right through the finish. Our rubbing compound can be applied by hand or machine.

Bumpers and Non-Metal Surfaces
If you are painting a flexible surface (such as a rubberized bumper) and you are spraying the paint, you should order the SEM Adhesion Promoter as this is required for proper adherence for the primer, basecoat and clearcoat. The adhesion promoter is only required when you are spraying the paint and not for the touch up bottles and paint pens. The adhesion promoter is used over the surface just before applying the primer.

If you are painting a sturdy, rigid fiberglass part, you can treat it just like metal. However, it never hurts to use the SEM Adhesion Promoter on any non-metal surface for maximum paint adhesion.

Powder Coatings
Our paint should be fine but make sure it will not lift or wrinkle the existing finish. Apply some automotive lacquer thinner by wetting the surface and giving it a couple of rubs with a damp cloth. If the existing finish does not soften or wrinkle, our paint should be okay to use. It wouldn't hurt to also test a small area before recoating the entire piece.

Powder coatings are urethane, cured and baked at high temperatures. Clean the area with wax and grease remover then wetsand the area with first 220, then 600 grit sandpaper. Use primer if the area has scratches you want to fill and then apply the basecoat. 

Using your own Spray Equipment
Our pints, quarts and gallons of primer, clearcoat, basecoat and midcoat are all ready to spray and do not need thinner. If you purchased the 2 oz. size to use in your own spray gun or are using a Preval Spray Gun, you will need a small container of automotive lacquer thinner to thin the paint. Do not use regular lacquer thinner sold at Home Depot, etc. as it is the wrong kind. It must be automotive lacquer thinner. Do not use old thinner! If it is more than a couple of months old, use it to clean or prep, but do not use it to thin your paint.  It will create a disaster on your vehicle! Only the 2oz. basecoat, midcoat, clearcoat and primer need to be thinned. Thin with one part lacquer thinner to one part basecoat, midcoat, clearcoat or primer. If the paint is too thin, add additional paint. Too thick, add more thinner. Our paint does not need a catalyst or activator as it air dries.

Any color that has the word "Tri-coat" in the color description will need three different steps to achieve the correct color. First the basecoat is applied, followed by the midcoat and finally a clearcoat is applied. Make sure you practice before applying this touch-up paint to your vehicle.

Lightening/Darkening the Paint when Spraying Clearcoat
By adjusting the distance you spray from the surface, you can make the clearcoat lighten or darken the paint. To lighten the paint, hold the spray can (or spray gun) farther away. Holding the can or spray gun closer will darken the paint. This will take a bit of practice and does not always work with some paint colors. Practice spraying OFF your car first to see how the technique works.

Allow the paint to dry for 30 days before waxing.

Store in a cool, dry place. Do not leave the bottle in your vehicle, as heat will dry up the paint. To make the paint last as long as possible, you can store the paint in your refrigerator. (If your spouse will let you!). Don't freeze the paint!

Automotive touch-up paint including primer and clearcoats are EXTREMELY hazardous. Keep away from children! Call a physician IMMEDIATELY if swallowed. Keep out of direct sunlight and heat over 120F. DO NOT STORE IN CAR and avoid freezing. Contains HAZARDOUS Waste. EPA requires proper disposal. Use with adequate ventilation. If you experience any dizziness, discontinue product use immediately and call physician. This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause birth defects, cancer and other health problems. The main thing here is to use the product with adequate ventilation. Use an approved automotive paint respirator and WEAR safety goggles when handling automotive paint to protect your eyes!! This includes the primer, paint and clearcoat

DuPont ChromaBase Spray/Bottle
PPG DBC Bottle
SEM Products

Please contact us with any comments you have or any additional tips that worked for you!

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