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Got this from an old car forum of mine and was compiled by a bloke who 'knows how'. Hope it helps.
For this example, let's say we're spraying a new mirror back, it's fitted to the car already. The item has been supplied pre-primed
1. If it does not come pre-primed then a priming step must be included, which is the same process as applying the base coat (colour)
2. Lightly scuff the piece with either RED 'Scotchbrite' or a flatting paste
3. Clean with panel wipe
4. Mask off
5. Clean with panel wipe
6. Using a hair-dryer or heat gun, gently warm up the can of colour whilst shaking it. Keep the can warm as this helps it out of the can without dropping large droplets everywhere.
7. From about 6-8 inches away, lightly dust the colour over the piece. This first coat should just be a dusting, not a complete covering, as doing that would trap solvent in the paint and cause problems later. Leave the first coat for approx 5-10 mins.
8. Apply another slightly heavier colour coat, keeping the can warm and mixed. You don't want the colour coat to look 'wet' when it goes on, as this indicates a lot of solvent. Leave again for approx 5-10 mins.
9. Third coat; this should be the last colour coat. The piece should be completely covered at the end of this coat, again don't make it wet as this indicates a lot of solvent on the piece. Use the heat source to dry it off a little quicker but don't keep the heat concentrated as you'll burn the paint.
10. Lacquering. Same principle as applying the colour. Warm the can and mix it thoroughly. The first lacquer coat should only be a dusting, as this gives subsequent coats something to stick to.
11. Second lacquer coat. Slightly heavier again from a distance of 6-8 inches. The further away you spray, the better, as the solvent from the can has more chance of evaporating before it gets onto the job.
12. Third coat. This should be the heaviest coat and look 'wet'. Rather than try to apply a heavy coat in one go, apply a heavyish coat, leave it for 2-3 mins then apply the same again, then leave for at least one hour to dry.
Once the last lacquer coat has been applied, use the heat source to force-dry the lacquer but again do not concentrate the heat, as lacquer burns quite easily. After about 3-4 mins unmask and leave the job to dry for at least one hour before flatting.
FLATTING AND POLISHING
When you spray, no matter what you use, the finish will look 'orange peel'. Flatting takes this effect away to give a nice smooth finish.
The best paper to use for flatting is 2000 grit wet and dry. Wet it with warm water with a drop of fairy liquid in it. Don't go too heavy with the flatting paper, if you flat through the lacquer you have to go through the spraying process again.
Flat gradually, gently rub over the piece then dry it off, leave it to air dry for a few seconds and you will see that once the water has evaporated, the surface will go 'chalky'. If the surface looks even, go on to the polishing stage. If it still has an orange peel effect, carry on flatting and drying until it appears flat.
When it comes to the polishing, if you use a slightly abrasive compound, such as 3M fast cut or possibly meguiars scratch-x, polish the piece then use a wax over the top of that and buff to a shine.
stand back and admire your handy work.
"I'm not easily distrac... ooh ooh look, shiny thing"
Currently in vicfisher's garage:
Citroen C4 Picasso VTR+ 1.6HDi EGS