How to Apply Touch Up Paint and Make Your Car Look Great
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. You will be able to expertly repair car scratches using these simple touch up paint directions. We show you how to use touch up paint in a spray can, paint pen, or brush bottle to repair car scratches. It is easier than you think.
Automotive paint is very hazardous. Keep away from children. Do not use any of
the products until you have read and understand the product directions and warnings. We recommend rubber gloves, chemical respirator, safety goggles and work
in a well ventilated area. Please store the materials in a safe place. Interior Paint is a vinyl paint which does not require clearcoat or polishing.
How to Repair Car Paint - 10 Steps to Success
- Find and order your car paint. We sell over 100,000 car paint colors and all the painting accessories you need.
- Test the color match, and practice. Before painting your car, try the auto paint on another surface like a metal can or an old picture to test the match. Let it dry, and if it looks good, your are ready to start the scratch repair.
- Choose good painting conditions. For best scratch repair results, find a place (like your garage) that has low humidity, is not in direct sunlight, and is at least 50°F for brush cap bottles and paint pens, and at least 70°F for car spray paint.
- Prepare your car. Clean the auto paint area you want to touch up using soap or wax and grease remover. If your auto paint is rusty, remove all traces of rust with 220 grit sandpaper or a wire brush, and apply Rust Away (sold in our store).
- Apply primer to any place where bare metal or plastic is showing. Use very thin coats of primer and let it dry overnight. Never use enamel primer.
- Apply a basecoat of your paint color. This is the actual auto paint color you ordered to fix your car scratch. Apply several thin coats to get the level of the repaired scratch to match the level of the surrounding car paint. Let it dry overnight.
- Apply clearcoat to your auto paint. Apply several thin layers of clear coat, letting it dry between coats (about 10-20 mins). Be careful when applying clearcoat. You need to float it over the basecoat. Clearcoat acts like a solvent and any pressure applied will remove the basecoat.
- Use rubbing compound to make it shine. Wait at least three days, then apply rubbing compound to the the entire area of car paint you fixed. This will make it smooth and shiny. Wait at least 30 days before waxing.
- Single Stage Paints Wait approximately three days, then apply rubbing compound to the single stage paint as explained above under Use rubbing compound.
- If you have a small scratch, use rubbing compound to smooth the primer, basecoat and clearcoat. Sanding
small areas will dull the existing finish!
Detailed Touch Up Paint Directions
We have created the following detailed touch up paint directions for specific car paint products like paint pens, auto paint spray cans, and car paint bush bottles. By following these detailed instructions, you will get the best results.
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
Touch Up Paint Tips, Suggestions and Tricks
Please read through the following list of touch up paint tips for best car scratch repair results.
- 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
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 apply our paint over enamel paint or enamel primer.
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! This goes under the primer, basecoat and clearcoat.
Additional Touch Up Paint Directions and Tips
Testing the Paint 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."
Practice Applying Touch Up Paint
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
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 for Touch Up Paint
It is important to let the basecoat dry before applying the clearcoat and
letting the clearcoat dry before polishing. Be careful when applying clearcoat. You need to float it over the basecoat. Clearcoat acts like a solvent and any pressure applied will remove the basecoat. 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.
Car 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 in Auto Paint
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. Be careful when applying clearcoat. You need to float it over the basecoat. Clearcoat acts like a solvent and any pressure applied will remove the basecoat.
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. Again, this is sprayed BEFORE the primer layer. 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
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.
Bumper Paint and Non-Metal Surface Paint Scratch Repair
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 adhesions promoter is sprayed BEFORE
the primer layer. 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
Fiberglass Scratch Repair Directions
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
on any non-metal surface for maximum paint adhesion. Make sure you spray the
adhesion promoter BEFORE the primer.
Powder Coatings Scratch Repair Directions
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
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 to Repair Car Paint
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
make sure you follow the directions. The tip size for air brush should be 1.0mm and for a spray gun from 1.2mm to 1.3mm.
You will need a small container of automotive lacquer thinner to thin the paint (unless you have a waterbased paint
which will need special water based thinner). 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
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 Car 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.
Waxing After Applying Touch Up Paint
Allow the car paint to dry for 30 days before waxing for best results.
Storing Car Paint - How to Store Touch Up Paint
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!
Hazards and Safety-VERY IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ!!
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
MSDS Information for Our Car Paints
DuPont ChromaBase Spray/Bottle
PPG DAR Spray
PPG DBC Bottle
PPG DBC Spray
PPG DBU Spray
us with any comments you have or any additional tips that worked for you!
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