repaint/tuch up same color pricing??

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alright so i just bought a 94 miata and it has some chips here and there from rocks and the front bumper is sorta faded I'm just wondering what im looking to get the car touched up and look nice. it would be in the same color so the engin wouldn't have to be takin out and all that hard work wouldn't have to be put into it.


posted by  jessetjames

reapints can run anywhere from under $200 at a Earl Sheib or Maaco type place on up to a few thousand dollars at a high end shop using the best materials.

Some of the price is on those materials (a high quality catalized urethane base coat/clearcoat job can run over a grand just in materials at fleet cost, while a typical synthetic enamel job can use a mere $50 in materials bought in 55 gallon drums by the mentioned cheap shops), and a lot is based on labor (if a paint shop is charging $200 for apaint job and $50-100 is in materials, that simply leaves very little money to pay for labor and still make a profit. How much care do you think an employee is going to take working on your car for a hundred bucks or less?)

You CAN get good results at Maaco, if you do good prep work before hand. Prep is almost all the labor cost in a high quality paint job (true, the materials themselves are more expensive: Real urethanes rather than the synthetic enamels with urethane catalysts that Maaco uses), so if you're careful, you can get a good job for cheap with Maaco and your work. (You may not go, but others reading this might, and this will help get the best job possible).
A good shop will often have to go over the car anyway, so you won't save too much by doing work yourself, unless you are confident enough in your prep work just to have them spray over it... But there are still steps you can take to save some labor and time.

Remove as much trim as is possible. Removing trim means 1) not having tape lines, and 2) someone else isn't responsible for loss or damage. It also means that the prep work can be done right under where the trim was, for a higher quality finish job (and edges around trim is where jobs usually fall down when economizing. Lack of sanding right next to trim can cause paint to peel later). If you're changing color, also remove door panels and carpet edge trim in the door jambs. Do a thourough job of cleaning the jambs (even if you're not changing color. This keeps dirt from coming back out into the new paint. A good shop will do it, but it's labor, and you can save time there.) On the same lines, clean the engine compartment thoroughly. Get a good degreaser/wax remover, and go over the whole car. Especially the door jambs, as years of Armor All can accumulate and cause problems (Armor All and the like are silicone sealants. Paint doesn't stick to silicone, and usually has serious reaction probems to even a drop of the stuff...).

If you are doing the engine compartment, degrease everything, and pull back as much wiring as you can, or completely mask everything (an easy trick is to use aluminum foil to wrap intricate bits...)

These are basics that can save the paint shop a bit of time and hassle. It may not save much money, but the job will be better, which ends up the same thing. If you want to go farther (or go to Maaco), you can do much of the sanding yourself. On areas where no bodywork is necessary, get a sanding block and 320 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper, of good quality (3M or Mirka Gold). Carefully wet sand the body with the block (taking care around edges, so as not to sand through) untill all trace of gloss is gone, and you have a nice, even, dull finish, getting as close to the factory primer level as you dare (remember, electrostatically applied, baked alkyd enamel like the factory uses is the absolute best substrate for new paint there is... bare metal requires serious chemicals to make it so that airborne applied paint sticks and doesn't have corrosion problems later. And NO "baked" paint afterward is truly baked like the factory paint is. For one, when painting at the factory, there are no glass, trim, or interior parts installed to be damaged by high temps.) Sand in linear motions, but alternate directions to keep the sanding even and level. In the jambs (if painting them) use the 320 by hand in as much as you can reach easily. Then get 3M Scotch Brite pads (the red ones) and go after them again (the Scotch Brite gets into all the crevasses regular sandpaper can't). Use the Scotch Brite on the body crevasses that are hard to reach with sandpaper (especially around edges of panels).

Any areas where bodywork is necessary (door dings, minor dents) need to be hit quickly with 80 grit paper. Door dings need to be shown up so they can be attended to (if you want, you can do the work yourself with a high quality filler. I use USC's BaseCoat/ClearCoat, as it spreads smoothly in very thin layers, is easy to work, extremely easy to sand, and doesn't stain through the top coats. It is also light and durable (I had a customer get hit in the same spot that I had done serious bodywork on and the filler that was there not only didn't crack, it didn't separate from the body surface)). If you are going to be doing the bodywork (say before going to Maaco) try to always hammer and dolly out most of the dent, so the filler is only a skim coat to fill the minor hammer ripples left. Filler is better when thinner (anything under an eighth inch should last a lifetime). And again, try NOT to remove factory paint if at all possible, because filler sticks better to paint than to metal, and there is little chance of trapping water or corrosion that way. Just scuff it well with 80 grit (don't use 36 or 40 grit, as it tends to leave scratches that show up later after the paint and primer shrink up...) before applying. Apply filler at the exact level you need it at, so to reduce sanding later. Feather well to the outside of the dent. Use a long board or longer block sander to make sure it's even and level (waves are for beaches...).

You can get good primer results on bodywork or edges that have been sanded to metal with Krylon sandable primer, believe it or not. Just spray a couple light coats, let dry thoroughly (24 hours is best), sand lightly with 320, then spray it lightly again to level it out. Major primer areas should be shot with a catalyed urethane primer, like PPG K200 (or the flexible version for urethane bumpers). Again, let cure completely (24 hours is best, even a couple days is good). Block sand wet with 320 before taking it to the paint shop. A good trick to make sure the surface is level is to kightly spray a spray can of color (like Krylon flat black) over the primed areas, letting it dry, then hitting it with the sanding block. This guide coat will show up imperfections that can be attended to, either by more sanding, or more bodywork if necessary.

After all is completed, clean completely again with a wax and grease remover.

I noticed I didn't say anything about masking and taping... ALWAYS use a good masking tape. Cheap tape is no savings ever. 3M or Amerian Performance automotive masking tape is all you want to use. If masking needs to be done, take your time (this is why you remove the trim... so making perfect edges isn't as critical, and there are more "natural" places to mask to...)

After this, it's ready to paint.

If you do go to Maaco after this, get their catalyzed paint (otherwise it will NEVER get repainted without completely stripping everything....), and if you go metallic or pearl, definitely get the clear topcoats (clearcoat is merely unpigmented paint, regardless of who does it). If you go solid colors, clear isn't necessary. Just have them put an extra coat on it.

After you get it home, let it cure for a couple days to a week. Then, hit it with 1000 grit wet sandpaper until all "orange peel" and dirt nibs are gone (be very careful of edges. In fact, stay a quarter inch or so away from the edges to start with). Hit it lightly after that with 1500 grit. Then either a pro detailing shop OR even you can use rubbing compound and a foam pad, and polish the paint. Top it off with Meguire's #9 on a foam finishing pad for a deep gloss. But do NOT wax or treat your paint otherwise for 90 days! Regardless of where it comes from. The paint needs this time to cure properly, and waxing will inhibit that, and could possibly damage the paint for the long term. (Top show car guys do it right off, but top show cars never stay the same color for decades, so longetivity isn't as important...). Do these steps right, and you'd be surprised that a Maaco paint job can look considerably better than factory... (of course, it's still cheapo synthetic enamel with urethane catalyst, but if you're on a serious budget, it can still look like you spent good money...)

posted by  ChrisV

Also, from another board, I was asked some questions regarding this and answered..

As above, remove all trim if possible, and prep them separately (door handles and mirrors). If the bumper strips are removeable, do so, and refinish them separately. If not, prep as I indicated, get the main paint done with them unmasked, then mask and refinish the strips (unless you want them body color...). Any plastic parts to be painted need to be cleaned and degreased as I described, then a special plastic primer (available from Mortons or SEM at your local autobody/paint supply store) needs to be applied about 10 minutes before actual painting. This keeps it from peeling. You can also use a product from Morton alled Jamb-It or from SEM alled Sand-Free as a way to open up the pores of the plastic and lock the first fog coat of primer in place (also good for those areas that you simply can't sand. But it's NOT a substitute for good prep otherwise.

1) Do you know what MAACO does as far as prep? Should I assume their's is weak and that I should do yours on top of buying there's? They do have several classes of prep and paints and clear coats.

Minimal prep. And once you ask for "real" prep, the same $7/hr guys who scuff the cars attempt to do real prep. They simply don't get paid enough to take much time or do good work.

Again, clear coat is just paint with no pigment (and UV inhibitors). There are cheap clears and quality clears, but they are the same as the paints. Since Maaco uses cheap paints even in their top of the line jobs (unless a particular shop contracts out with name brand paints, like PPG, DuPont, etc), the only ones to use are their catalyzed urethanes.

2) I can't imagine MAACO sanding the whole car to a dull finish (price). Do they have some kind of chemical treatment that's 1/2 as good as a sand job and basically just aids in the base coat adhering? Is that adviseable?

Yes, they can use solvents like I described above. But really, the only thing those are good for is in hard to sand areas, and then only sparingly. They are not substitute for good prep, unless you like the 3D tearaway look..

3) I bought a new front fascia for my car. How are those properly painted and can MAACO deal with that without flaking in a year? My rear fascia needs REpainting. What is done to prep that?

On flexible parts, you first need to clean and degrease them 9even and especially new parts). Then the scotch brite pad I talked about before is gone over thoroughly to scuff it up. Then use a fog coat of the Sand Free to open the pores of the urethane, and a flexible urethane primer is applied. When done properly, the primer is thus locked to the urethane. Scuff the primer completely (after proper cure... again, I always give 24 hrs). Then the part is ready to apply paint. If using a urethane base coat/clear coat paint system, the base coat goes on as normal, then the clear gets a flexible additive added. IF using a single stage paint (no clear) the flexible additive is put directly into the color (and use the same paint as for the rest of the car. the flex additive won't negatively affect the paint on the metal bits...)

Prep is the same on the rear bumper, just as on the rest of the car. Finishing is done just like the front bumper described above.

4) I'd like my door bump trim strips to be painted body color. What kind of prepping is involved in that? I bought some spray stuff that supposedly aids in paint adherence to plastic pieces. Is that good? When I talked to MAACO, they seemed hesitant about guaranteeing painting those plastic pieces.

Prep is the same as desribed for a new urethane bumper, above. The spray you have may work, though usually that is for ABS plastics... and no, Maaco doesn't like to guarantee anything outside their normal scuff and shoot process.

5) I've talked to (2) body shops and they told me, "You don't want us to do it kid. You don't have the money. Go to MAACO." Evidently body shops are busy enough not to need paint business alone and that the labor in the dent repair would kill me. Also, there are no places that just paints primarily... other than MAACO. Should I not even pursue body shops given my price limit?

Mainstream bodyshops are like that. They DO have too much work usually just in dent repair (where 90% of income is labor, and profitable). Complete paint jobs simply don't profit like crash work on small panels. I know of shops that simply won't DO completes. But there are also smaller shops (and the ocasional hobbyist) that you can go to, with the caveat: look at their other work and talk to other people who have had work done by them. Some are definitely shady, some are total flakes. Some are craftsmen. Some are guys like you and me, but doing this on the side with regular jobs and lives taking up most of their time, so the work might take longer, but come out better.

I've seen work out of carports and back yards rival top shops, and usually exceed factory or crash repair shops. I've also seen serious hack work by guys who have been at it for years. The only way to find out is talk to satisfied customers. Always be involved in the process. I actually hated it when people dropped of their cars and say "call me when it's done." In non-crash repair and custom work, constant contact is important. And in the case of a place like Maaco, mandatory to getting a good job. If you know what you're looking at and how to achieve it, you can get good enough work on a budget.

posted by  ChrisV

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