What We Did
Give you an inside feel on paint and body basics and show how to get it done
Don't be afraid of trying something new
What It Costs (Approx)
Prices will vary, based on experience and level of quality
When it comes to automotive painting, it's no secret that many significant changes have come about in recent years. New paints, new techniques, and new equipment are things to take into consideration when asking yourself the time-honored question: Can I do it myself?
Those of us with a strong determination to handle our own tasks will no doubt find a way to get our hands on some hammers, dollies, and paint guns and learn by trial and error how to refurbish our car's appearance. But what is the best way to feed that desire to perform some body and paint basics and where do we start? Of course the best place to start is usually at the beginning, and when it comes to basic paint- and bodywork, that means out in the driveway.
Like performance modifications, developing paint- and bodyworking skills that you can take pride in should start with the simple bolt-ons. We recommend that you save the frame-off resto or that ghost-flamed candy-pearl paintjob for a later date. For starters, it's best to take on a simple project that you can handle with a minimum of tools, and one that will allow you to see and appreciate your work by the end of the day or weekend. Once you've built up your confidence and skill level, you can move on to the bigger stuff.
If you are planning to paint...
If you are planning to paint your car, you'll want to know what type of paint to use and how to apply it. Basic body mods are those that require little or no fabrication and can be performed with ordinary handtools. Body and underhood bolt-ons fall into the very basic category and are the perfect starting point to learn how to work on the body of your car and color-match the paint. Clean-air materials are where it's at, so for a first-hand learning experience with PPG's new Envirobase High Performance waterborne basecoat paint, we decided to try it out.
Everyone has a vision of what they want their car to look like. This visualization is actually the first step of any custom bodywork or paintjob and it determines how extensive your skills must be. Before you let your imagination get too far out of control (which is an easy thing to do!), you must develop that mental image of your car while taking into consideration your skills, tools, time, and budget.
Advanced body mods are often what you see on some of the featured cars in CHP, but the very basic can be something as simple as a spoiler upgrade or other bolt-on piece from the aftermarket. A simple mod can be just as gratifying as an extensive one if done properly. Although painting and bodywork are closely related, basic bodywork is something that you can take on in your own driveway. Painting can be done in the garage, but unlike the mechanical aspects of working on your car, you must take several things into consideration. Things like compressed air, ventilation, overspray, adequate lighting, and chemical handling are often taken for granted in a shop, but could pose problems at home. The obvious answer to this dilemma was to take our basic painting needs to a place equipped with a spray booth. While some shops rent out their facilities if business is slow, we chose to seek out an institution of higher learning where beginners and pros alike can go to develop or hone their skills.
Located in a modest business center not more than five minutes from Auto Club Speedway is PPG's West Coast Training Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. There, hidden behind a façade of what appears to be your typical small business office awaits a painter's fantasyland, rooms filled with candies, pearls, and shiny silver spray guns, not to mention a wealth of information to be had on the subject of automotive painting. The PPG Training Center is where, under the guidance of instructors Paul Stoll and Frank Ramos, students learn the latest painting techniques using the most up-to-date paints and equipment. It is no secret that waterborne-based paint technology is changing the automotive refinishing industry. This includes everything from the materials and techniques, to the equipment. We were familiar with solvent-based materials including lacquers, enamels, and urethanes, all of which have been around for decades. We were more than a little apprehensive about waterborne painting, but since this relatively new formula is where automotive refinishing is headed, our quest for a basic experience started with something new.