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Discussion Starter #1
Posted this on 6crew, figured I'd share it with 6club as well, since this is where I did original start off at. Enjoy! :)


A quick background note, when I was trying to find a professional to paint my grill I was getting ridiculous quotes on it,
$160, $150, $180, $220 and when I took it to some that quoted me at $100~ they all said it was a total loss, the grill was damaged beyond belief and it would cost another $300 - $400 to even make it visually decent.
At this point I had enough with the car body work industry, of course there are good decent folks out there who would love to work on your car.
But you should be prepared to dish out a good amount of cash if you really want someone to do a professional job on your car part.
I had taken my lip to get professionally painted and it looks like crap, they did a complete subpar job when I refused to pay more money for them to take out small holes in the lip.
Which should have all gone away with the correct prep techniques. And everyone on 6crew has invested a good amount of money on their car, the last thing they want it for some half-assed product to go on their vehicle.

So at this point, I had enough of the bullshit and decided to do it myself. This was my first time ever doing a paint job and I learned a lot from this process and hope you do too.

They say that 90% of the results depends on the prep work put into the job, I had always thought that to be true, but after seeing my results, I am a complete believer.

DIY: How to Prep & Paint Exteriors

Materials you will need:
*180 grit sandpaper
*220 grit sandpaper
*320 grit sandpaper
400 grit sandpaper
600 grit sandpaper
1000 grit sandpaper
Base Coat color
Clear Coat
Spot Putty
Tack Rags
sandblock or flat surface
Spray bottle with water

**Note that the primer color you use should be an "opposite" of the color of the base coat. Since I will be painting my grill black, they send me a gray primer. If you will be painting something red, use a light red primer. Using is extremely helpful because they will send you the primer for your specific color.

You can get the 400,600 and 1000 in the "Sandpaper Pack" on for about $4 I think, it comes with 3 sheets of each grit.
I also ordered the primer, color, clearcoat, putty and rags from paintscratch as well. Just make sure you order in advanced because they custom mix your paint, which takes about 10 business days and then it takes another 8-10 business days for it to get delivered to you.

*Note, the 180, 220, 320 grit sandpapers are completely optional.
The lower the grit on the paper the more it will shed away. Using the 180 grit you are able to shed away most of the issues and create bigger scratches on the surface.
Then when you follow up with 220, you shed away the uneven scratches from the 180 grit and create a smooth level surface.
Same with the 320, you shed away the uneven scratches from the 220 grit and eventually you will have a perfectly smooth surface free of any imperfections.
I HIGHLY recommend getting them because they will give you a better finish, and you can see it in the final results. I used these grits and have written the DIY based on that.

TEST SUBJECT: AutoExe Replica Grill
I have labeled A,B,C,E on the corners of the grill because those are where the issues are most severe.
There is also a dent labeled D, which is the deepest dent on the grill, if we are able to get this one fixed the rest should be no issue.

Notice below how there is a crevice near A which bends downward.


Ok, so we will be doing a mixture of wet and dry sanding.

Go ahead and spray down your item very throughly.

Once it is sprayed down go ahead and use the 180 grit and wetsand down the item.
Keep spraying the item with water from your spray bottle and keep spraying the sandpaper.
When you are dry sanding, the particles that shed away from the surface stay on the surface, and half of it ends up clogging your sandpaper. With clogged up sandpaper your scratches will be uneven and it will show in the paint. So unless you are planning on using a lot of sandpaper stick to wetsanding for now.
With wet sanding you are able to clear the particles away and keep your sandpaper unclogged.
Make sure you are either going left/right or up/down. If you go in all directions you risk creating swirls in the item which may not be visible now, but once you get the paint on it will look very hideous.

Since my grill is wider than it is higher, I will be using left/right movements.
Keep your item wet the entire time. I used a sandblock at first. But later switched to a flat surface.
What you choose to use completely depends on you, the sandblock gives you a better grip, but since I need to get into small areas on the grill, the flat surface suited me better.

After I finished wetsanding my grill, you can see all the scratches go in one direction, I switched to the flat surface and wrapped my 180 grit sandpaper around that to dry sand it.

I later switched the cardboard out with a flat sheet of steel and dry sanded my grill with the 180 grit sandpaper going left/right. Make sure you are constantly blowing the shedding off the item and blowing it off your sandpaper as well.
Imagine eraser shavings all over a piece of paper you are trying to write on, your writing will be messy. Just like your scratches will be messsy and uneven.


Grab your 220 GRIT sandpaper and dry sand your item going in the same direction you did the 180. Make sure you are continously blowing the shed off your item and off the sand paper, you want the scratches to be as smooth and even as possible!

Here is my progess after I finished dry sanding with the 220.

Dent D is practically gone. A and E are practically perfect and B and C could use some work on.
And this is something multiple car body professionals expected me to pay an extra $200+ to fix, saying that my item was damaged and they would have to repair it. And I managed to fix it with some sanding.


But we are nowhere done. And the grill looks amazingly better than what we had started with. The biggest dent is almost gone and the inside curves of the grill are looking a lot better.

And all we have done right now is sanded down the surface 2/5ths of the way. We still need to finish sanding everything down and prime it, which will make everything look perfect.

Ok, so my sandpaper is starting to get clogged up.

Now time to switch to the wet sanding. At this point I took the grill into my bathroom and just kept it wet with the shower hose as I wet sanded it, and I kept cleaning off my sandpaper.

Here is what the grill looks like after 180 wet sand -> 180 dry sand -> 220 dry sand -> 220 wet sand.

The insides are a lot smoother. And D is practically invisible.


Ok enough pictures for now.

After you are finished 220 wet sanding. Go ahead and do a 320 dry sand, then 320 wet sand.


After you are finished 320 wet sanding, do 400 dry sand -> 400 wet sand -> 600 dry sand -> 600 wet sand.

To give you an idea on how much time you should be spending on sanding, I spent 3 hours and 30 mins sanding at 180 - 320. And spent a total of 6 hours sanding the the entire thing. It completely depends on the results you want.
If you want a really nice looking paintjob, you are going to have to put the effort to get it.

Half way through sanding:

263 Posts
Discussion Starter #2

So I want this to be done right, so instead of assuming that the sanding 100% fixed the corners A,B,C,E and dent D on my grill. I will decide to be better safe than sorry and I will fill in spot putty to the rest of the damaged areas.

Go ahead and grab your spot putty. And fill in the damaged areas. Use thin layers of the putty to fill in the issues.
Using a thick layer will not allow the putty at the bottom to fully cure before you have chance to paint it.

The putty will dry fairly quickly, so I just puttied in A, spread it out.
Then worked on B, spread it out, and etc with C,E and D.

Go ahead and wait 30 minutes to let the putty dry some more.

So the process you will be using will be a repetition of this:
-apply thin layer of putty
-sand with 180 grit sandpaper
-apply another thin layer of putty
-sand with 180 grit sandpaper
etc. until the putty covers all the damaged regions. I was able to do this within 3 layers of putty.
Now its time to level out the surface of the putty and the rest of the item.

Now go back to the 180 grit sandpaper and sand down your surface. You can choose do either drysand, wetsand or do both.
I chose to drysand this time around. So I drysanded everything with 180 grit. And after I finished with the 180, I washed down the grill to make sure no particles remained, then I let it dry for 20 minutes and continued.

Next work your way up to 220 grit. (I continued drysanding) I washed it down again and waited for it to dry (and I kept doing this until I was done sanding).
Then 320 grit. (Still kept drysanding)

***Make sure you are blowing away the shavings off the surface of the item you are working on, and you are keeping your sandpaper clean.

At this point, your problem errors (filled with putty) should be exactly level with the rest of the surface of the item you will be painting.

Now go ahead and sand the entire item again with 400 grit.
And then your 600 grit sandpaper.

Now it is time to prime and paint the item.

This is what my grill looks like so far after all the errors have been filled in and I have just finished sanding it off with 600 grit sandpaper.


Get these items ready:
-color coat
-clear coat
-tack rags

Use a tack rag to gently rub down the item and remove any dust, lint, sand-particles, etc., we want ABSOLUTELY nothing on the item when it comes time to apply the primer.

Before first coat:

Now spray the primer about 10 inches away while holding the can parallel to the surface. Spray LIGHT LAYERS and build up on.
I've done my tail-lights, my calipers, my wheels, my headlights and I know how hard it is to resist the urge to just cover everything up, dab on clearcoat and install your new exterior piece back.

After first coat:

This is a pretty big project we are working on, a lot of time and money is going to be invested into this, and you want to make sure it turns out right.
Keep spraying light coats until the entire object is covered.

You should wait how long the can tells you before applying the next coat. My can said 10 minutes, so I waited 15 just to be safe.

So the process should be:
-spray light coat of primer
-wait 15 minutes
-spray light coat of primer
-wait 15 minutes etc. until it is all covered evenly.

3 coats in:

After you've sprayed the final coat of primer, it comes to the hard part, waiting.


SIDE NOTE: If any issues reoccur when priming.

So when I was priming I didn't perfectly fill in dent D.

Priming will bring out many issues that you missed. It reappeared and I noticed it after 3 light coats. But don't worry.
Go ahead and grab the 180 grit sandpaper and sand down the area around that issue.

Then grab your spot putty and lightly dab some over it.

Wait 30 minutes for your putty to dry.

Then sand down the putty region with 180 -> 220 -> 320 -> 400 -> 600. And you can go back to priming.

Since I did 3 light coats before I applied the putty, do 3 light coats only in the region you are fixing.

Then go back to priming the rest of the item so it is even.
**Don't try to spray heavy coats trying to finish it faster.
Don't try using a hairdryer or something to speed up the drying process.
These things will only make it look worse, just let it dry and fix itself naturally with light coats.

Viola, that was a close one.


Ready for painting:

Sand down the grill evenly with 400 grit sandpaper, grab one of those blue towels (lint-free) and rub off the surface. And then sand it with 600 grit sandpaper, then use a blue-towel to wipe off the surface and then use a tack rag to make sure there is absolutely nothing on the surface.

Using the same method for the primer, apply the first light layer of color coat.

This is what my first layer looks like.

Wait the recommended time on the spray can, my spray can by paintscratch said 15 minutes in between coats.

I kept spraying even coats until the entire grill was 100% evenly covered. I had about 8 light coats of paint applied.

Now comes the hardest part of all, wait 2 days for the paint to cure. Sure it may dry within 3 or so hours from your final coat - you will touch it, it will feel just fine and dry and everything, but trust me on this, it is not yet cured.

Now VERY LIGHTLY wetsand the grill with 600 grit sandpaper.

Wipe it dry with a lint-free blue towel, and then use a tack rag to remove anything that may be on it.

And using the same method for the base coat and primer, apply the clear coat.

I applied light coats of clear until my can seemed like it was about to run out. For the last few coats, get a pretty good distance away, a bit further than the distace you used to spray your coats, and do about 3 misty coats from far away to ensure even coverage.

So when you are done clear-coatting. Your grill will look ugly. VERY VERY ugly. All the issues from the paint will rise to the surface and all the the uneven spots and orangepeel will begin to show.

At this point I just wanted to throw my grill away. Look at how bad and terrible everything looks.

We are not yet done, now we have to wetsand and buff it which is the last step. But we have to wait for the clear coat to cure. So after 2 days, start the next process.


So at this point you want to grab your 1000 grit sandpaper. And you will be WETSANDING your item, right now you don't have an option between dry/wet sanding. You will have to wetsand. So go ahead and wetsand your item down, and make sure you sand evenly. It is very easy to tell at this point because when you take long strokes with the sandpaper, the surface that has been sanded evenly will be easy to stroke over, and the part that hasn't will be harder and have a sort of "rib" like texture when you sand over it. You'll understand when you do it.

So not only will the wetsand make your grill look really pretty, But it will also give it that nice "glass" like plastic texture and look to it.

This is what the top bar looks like after I wetsanded it, the ENTIRE grill is soaking wet, but notice how the top bar has that nice shine and texture to it.

Same thing with the second bar completed.


263 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
After you've done it go ahead and grab your polishing compound and a circular buff-pad. I bought a 2-pack from Reilly's for under $3. Make sure it is a lint-free pad, specifically for polishing and waxing. If you ordered your supplies from paintscratch they will include the polishing compound for you. If you didn't I suggest using "Meguiar's Polishing Compound"

Apply the compound to the pad, and spread it over the first area you are working on.

Let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then start rubbing it, VERY VERY hard. You really need to put A LOT of elbow grease into it, if you have a buffer, use that at a setting of 2000 - 2500 RPMs. But be gentle with the buffer, you do not want to burn through your fresh paint.

After I finished the top bar this is what it looked like, notice how "glassy" the grill looks now.

However when you put it in the sun, it looks really bad, (I am still going to continue polishing the compound in)

As soon as your first "layer" of polish dissipates into the surface of the grill, go ahead and work on your next area until the entire thing looks clear. After that do two more layers of polish.

After 2 hours of polishing the compound in this is my final result:

Hope you enjoyed this and learned something new today. I know I did.

Final product on the vehicle:

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