Applying the Skim Coat in Automotive Painting

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If you want your car to look the best it can, automotive painting can get extremely involved and intricate. In its basic form, automotive painting can be a fairly easy task, but if you want your car to shimmer and shine as sleekly as possible, things can get a bit more involved. Knowing the ins and outs of automotive painting can lead to rewarding careers as a refinishing prep technician, auto body technician or automotive painter. One aspect of this trade that’s often overlooked is applying the skim coat when you’re repainting a car that’s seen better days.

The Skim Coat

The skim coat is something you’re going to have to get familiar with if you’re going to be in the business of restoring beaten up or damaged cars. This involves spreading a layer of body filler over the entire car to ensure that when you paint it, it’s smooth and there are no gaps or holes. While most of the time you can get away with just using body filler on problem areas, sometimes it’s easier to do a skim coat of the entire car if it’s a little worse for the wear, with a lot of dings and dents. It is a time consuming process and shouldn’t be undertaken by someone without any experience – when in doubt, ask an auto mechanic. If you’ve been experimenting with doing your own automotive painting, with the great trades training B.C. offers, you could turn that hobby into a career as an automotive refinisher.

How to Apply the Skim Coat

Before getting to work on applying the skim coat, you should ensure that you have all of the proper tools and materials to work with. You’ll need body filler, hardener, and a plastic squeegee. First, use the squeegee to scoop out some body filler, about enough for one panel of the automobile, and then mix the filler with a tiny bit of hardener, around the size of a nickel, and start to blend the two together. The resulting paste should be a solid colour – if it’s spotty or marbled, mix it until it blends together smoothly.

Then, take a liberal amount of the resulting paste, place it on your squeegee and apply a thin layer that covers the surface of the panel. It doesn’t need to be very thick, but it needs to coat the entire panel in a smooth, even manner. After that, while you’re letting the filler on that panel dry, move on to the next section, and do the same. It’s best to divide your work into fairly same-sized chunks, and it’s best if the car is done all in the same day.

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After the skim coat has been applied thoroughly on the entire vehicle and has been allowed to dry properly, then you’re ready to sand the filler to smooth it out and allow for painting. You’ll want to use 120 grit sandpaper and be sure to sand in an ‘X’ pattern along the panels. After doing this, make another pass on the car with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the rough patches, and you’re ready to prime and paint!

Take a look at this video for an example of how it’s done, and you should be ready to get out the squeegee in no time!

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