Stripping paint down to bare metal takes lots of time and money, so why do it? As much as cost-conscience classic car enthusiasts would like the option of scuffing and spraying their restoration projects, unfortunately it’s not always viable. Obvious reasons for stripping include cracking paint, extremely old paint, poor quality paint, and an excessive build up of paint. Painting over issues like this might look OK in the short run, but they’re disasters waiting to reveal themselves in the long run. Problems with adhesion and shrinking are the biggest downfalls of trying to paint over these types of problem areas. Warranty issues can also arise, if the underlying areas fail and ruin a new paint job.
A scenario that we come across very often at Precision Restorations is a car that has recently been restored and has what appears to be nice paint work. Even though the paint looks as though it is in great shape, that’s not always the case upon closer inspection. A slightly rusted and pitted area can be heavily primed and sanded, which can go undetected for years. However, it will eventually show signs of peeling or bubbling. These areas need to be properly sandblasted to remove all the rust within the pits.
Excessive body filler is another issue that can be hidden by nice paint. Too much body filler can cause problems with paint shrinkage and durability. Plastic body filler expands and contracts with changes in temperature. When body filler is used correctly, it will expand and contract with the metal on the car. When used incorrectly, it will not expand and contract at the same rate as the metal. This will create sanding scratches and rings in the paint. Concealed problems like this might not show up right away, but on the other hand, they can pop up after just a day in the hot sun.
As tempting as it may be to cheap out on paint materials, you generally get what you pay for. Inferior material can be used in a way that makes a car look great, but is significantly less durable. If these lower quality materials are painted directly over, not only will the new paint’s durability be greatly reduced, the possibility of the product wrinkling and lifting while being sprayed are exponentially higher.
When weighing the up-front savings of a budget paint job versus the long-term benefits of doing it right the first time, finding all the hidden problems by stripping a car to bare metal is a wise investment. Prep work can make or break a paint job, and the quality of the finished product is only as good as the base that it’s on. Using quality materials and quality work ensures that the paint will last as long as the car.