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How To Apply Touch Up Paint

Touch Up Paint application

Touching up the paint on your car, whether it's to fix a few rock chips or to repair a scratch, is not always as easy as just dabbing on some paint and letting it dry. Of course, it's not as difficult as professional auto painting either. The effort is somewhere in between.

Here are some common mistakes that people using touch up paint on their cars often make. Avoid these and you'll get a much better end result from your efforts.

Failure to Wash

Many people just use a cloth to wipe around the area and then apply the paint. This doesn't clean up anything, but instead pushes more dirt into the area you'll be painting. It also doesn't remove wax or anything else.

Soap and water and (possibly) automotive wax remover should be used to clean the affected area. Wash the chipped or scratched spots you plan to paint with soapy water, rinse, and hand dry.

Using the Wrong Applicator for the Job

When applying the touch up paint, use the right applicator for the job at hand. A paint pen is great for rock chips and very small areas, but if the area is larger than a pencil eraser (1/4 inch or so), a pen is not going to do the job right.

Similarly, if the area is larger than a U.S. dime, a brush applicator is not going to look good either. Use the right tool for the job.

Not Testing Paint First

If you haven't tested your paint for both color and viscosity, you are about to ruin your car's looks with it. Even if the paint is from the manufacturer and is the exact paint used on your car, there is a chance it won't match. Always test first. Testing also gives you the chance to try it and see how your application method is done. All on a surface you don't need to worry about messing up.

Use an old paint can, scrap car body part, or the underside of something you don't worry about others seeing (such as the hood or behind the radiator). Clean and prep the area as you would any other and then apply the paint in the way you plan to do it on your car's finish. Let it dry, check it out. Do the colors match nearly perfectly? Did the application go over smoothly? How long did it take to dry? Can you buff it without ruining the look? All of these can be answered with the test.

Work In the Right Environment

You don't need a painter's booth for most touch up jobs, but you should have the right conditions. Don't work in direct sunlight, avoid working when it's excessively hot or humid, and always wear protective gear (gloves at the least) as automotive paint can be toxic.

If you adhere to these rules when doing your touch up, it will definitely go a lot smoother and look much better when you're done.

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