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Do Repair Shops Sand A Vehicle Before Painting It?

Do Repair Shops Sand A Vehicle Before Painting It?

Have you been thinking about having your car painted? Or perhaps you have thought about doing it yourself? Either way, you have come to the right place. A full paint job is a big task, and it requires the right knowledge. Otherwise, it becomes a complete waste of time and money. A poorly-done paint job will make your entire car look cheap and ugly, so think carefully before you choose the DIY route. In any case, let’s talk about one of the most essential steps of the car painting process, and that is the sanding phase.


Do Repair Shops Sand A Vehicle Before Painting It?

The short answer is yes. A repair shop will always sand a vehicle before a new paint job is applied. Of course, there is a question of how much sanding they will do. There are different schools of thought on this matter, and not all shops will do it in the same way. There isn’t necessarily just one right way, either. A number of factors can influence this process.

Let’s start with the bare minimum. At the bare minimum, you will need to sand the old finish enough to roughen the surface. New paint will not easily stick to a smooth surface. Thus, if you don’t sand the paint job (at least a little bit), your paint will begin to flake and peel in no time at all. A little bit of surface roughness will provide the traction that is needed for the paint to stay in place.

If you really want to be thorough, you can sand the whole car down to the bare metal. If you are replacing a dark color with a lighter color, this really is the way to go. Otherwise, the old finish might darken the new one. Thus, you will not end up with the exact color that you wanted. However, if you are replacing a light color with a darker one, there is no need to sand the whole thing.


What Is The Best Way To Sand The Vehicle?

The best way is to use a small power sander. A mid-sized palm sander is a great option, as it will do the job with minimal effort. At the same time, you don’t want to use a full-size power sander unless you are a trained professional. Even then, it might not be the best idea. First of all, you might go too far and remove some of the underlying metal (that’s very bad because it reduces the structural strength of your car, which is a safety issue).

You could do the entire car by hand with sandpaper, but that is not usually the best option. Even if you are just roughening the surface (as opposed to removing all of the old paint down to the bare metal), it will take a long time to do the job using only sandpaper. Of course, if you don’t have any experience with this kind of thing, the best option is to simply take it to a reputable repair shop like ours.

Speaking of sandpaper, you need to be sure you get the right kind. If it is too rough, it will remove too much material. If it is too smooth, you’re going to be sanding all day long. Most people find that 2000-2500 grit sandpaper is ideal. You should also use some kind of cutting compound. This is just an abrasive chemical paste that is used to aid the removal of an old finish. Thus, you won’t have to do the whole thing with elbow grease alone.


What About Auto Primer?

As you may know, an automotive paint job requires that you put down a layer of primer. Like the sanding, this part of the process is meant to ensure that the final finish will adhere properly. Also, a primer layer will often be slightly uneven, so a little sanding can do a lot to level it out. However, the primer layer will still require sanding. You won’t have to go very deep when sanding a primer layer, of course, since it isn’t that thick in the first place.

It should be noted that drying and curing time is very important to the overall results. The general recommendation is to wait no more than 24 hours before applying the final coat. Some people choose to wait a lot longer, but it is not recommended. Of course, some types of primer will give you a lot more time. Environmental factors like humidity and temperature can also come into play.


The Importance Of Taping

As a final note, we should mention the importance of good taping. You should use painter’s tape (sometimes called “masking tape”) to cover all the surfaces that aren’t supposed to be painted or sanded. This includes the windows, windshield, any trim that you might have, headlights, taillights, etc. Don’t skimp on this step, as both sandpaper and paint can permanently damage those surfaces.



Many people find that the task of repainting their entire vehicle is a little bit too much. If you are one of those people, you should go ahead and call a reputable auto body shop. But, you might ask: “What is the best auto body shop near me?” Elmer’s Auto Body has been servicing the New Jersey area for over 75 years. If you need top-notch automotive painting or other bodywork, your best bet is to call our team at (856) 218-0202.

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