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How to mask a car for paint

Masking a car to paint allover.

Masking your car for paint

Sunday, June 8, 2014

We will explain how to mask the car allover the most efficient way possible, using the least amount of materials saving you time and money.

Assuming you have gone through the cleaning process both organic, chemical washing and drying (See How to Prep for Paint).  Also you have scuffed or sanded the surface to be painted.  Masking a car for allover paint or panel painting requires an effort to keep over spray out of jambs, for this reason we will tell you how to mask these also.

One of the techniques we will be using is called back masking, the process of masking without leaving a hard line, rolling the tape will allow the spray to taper instead of wall.


Masking to paint the entire car


If your painting the car in your garage at home, you can save a few dollars by using lower cost materials, keep in mind though that it will require more work, if you are a professional, spring for the good stuff and save time and money by reducing labor cost. New technologies in tape and paper were developed for a reason, they eliminate many of the faults with the older products such as: Tape glue residue left behind after the tape is removed, flexibility issues for taping around corners and degradation when left on the vehicle to long.  Paper faults like: Bleeding, soaking etc.  


As with anything in life its about trade off’s.  Yes they cost a little more initially, but you get it back in time savings.


Masking the Car to Paint Allover


Pull the car in where you plan on doing the spraying, position it so it wont have to be removed until finished.  This is an important step because you don’t want to have to open the doors after you get things buttoned up.  There is a technique we have used in the past for masking a car that will be moved but we will talk about that one in another post.


Open the hood, trunk/hatch and the doors.  These areas need to be masked to prevent over spray from damaging these areas and it reduces the chance of debris being blown into your paint from the spray gun.  Open the hood, trunk/hatch and doors, basically open everything up for access.  2 inch tape is perfect for this step in the process but 1 ½ inch tape can save you a nickel or two.  Also note; using cheaper tapes for straight runs where you wont need to turn a corner can save a few more nickels.  Cheaper tapes will only create more headache if you try to use them for the entire job.  After opening everything with a jamb area to protect, place a 4 to 6 inch strip of your wide tape as shown (Figures to the left).  You do not have to cover the entire jamb in most cases, what you are trying to accomplish is preventing the bulk of the over spray from covering the jamb, with OEM paint, you can wipe the light over spray with a towel dampened with a light solvent, saving time and money.  Note:  Never use a solvent on a previously painted surface, OEM baked paint is more resistant then Aftermarket painted surfaces,  If your not sure, test it in a small hidden area first.


Obviously longer runs will require longer strips of tape, that goes without saying but also worth noting.  Masking under hood, inner fenders, headlamps, grill and windshield all in one step saves time and money, it also creates a barrier to prevent dust and dirt from the engine area from getting into the air while spraying.  The fact it will keep paint from getting on the engine is a no brainer and goes without saying.


When masking windows, always mask the bulk of the window first, it requires less skill.  Save about a quarter inch on the edge of the moldings for outlining with the masking tape, if you’re using the cheaper tapes, use that for the inside straight runs, save the expensive tapes for edging or outlining to cover the moldings, this will require turning corners and a more flexible tape.  


If you are a pro and have preppers, let them do the bulk of the masking, save the critical items for last.  If you are a prepper, save the outlining for the painter so he cant complain about over spray on the moldings.


A rule of thumb?  It’s always better to get paint on a molding (it can be cleaned), then it is to over tape onto the painted surface.  Repairing a over taped molding requires sanding and spotting the paint.


Using lifting tape?


Lifting tape can be tucked under the thin rubber moldings to prevent over spray, the process is a bit more time consuming but will eliminate all over spray.  The draw back is:  Older moldings can be dried and brittle, lifting them can crack them.

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