Auto Painting 101: A Look at the Dreaded Orange Peel Effect

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The orange peel effect creates a bumpy, uneven surface similar to an orange peel

A great paint job should look smooth and sleek, but what happens when that’s not the case? Well, you may be surprised to learn that not-so-perfect paint jobs are actually quite common, especially in mass-produced, factory painted vehicles.

Automotive painters of all tenures, from experienced industry veterans to painting rookies, are likely to be familiar with the orange peel effect. Even great auto painting professionals may finish a paint job with the orange peel effect from time to time. However, top auto painters know how to prevent it, minimize it, and most importantly, fix it when it occurs.

If you’re considering enrolling in an automotive painting program, read on to learn more about the orange peel effect.

The Auto Painting Orange Peel Effect Explained

In general, today’s vehicles are painted using a spray gun. Air within the gun propels the pigmentation to the car’s surface, where it attaches and spreads out into a thin, even layer. However, sometimes the paint doesn’t set evenly, and it takes on a bumpy texture similar to orange peel.

There are many reasons a paint job may take on the orange peel effect after auto painting. Here are some possible perpetrators:

  • Painting in an auto shop that is too hot
  • Improper spray gun settings
  • Paint that isn’t mixed correctly
  • Premature evaporation of paint thinner
  • Spraying the paint at the wrong angle
  • Applying too much paint

These are just some examples of simple mistakes that can result in an uneven, bumpy finish. The first step in preventing the orange peel effect is being aware of these common pitfalls and working to avoid them.

How to Avoid the Orange Peel Effect While Auto Painting

As a future auto refinishing prep technician, customers will trust you with what’s likely to be one of their most expensive possessions. In order to keep your customers happy, you’ll want to do your best to produce a top-notch paint job, and that means preventing the orange peel effect.

The first step in avoiding the orange peel effect is choosing the correct size nozzle on your paint gun. If the nozzle is the wrong size, it could dispense too much product, which could create an uneven finish once the paint dries. The second step is to be extremely careful while applying coats of paint. Make sure you maintain even pressure and don’t go too close to the surface of the car. Lastly, ensure you’re painting in an area that’s shaded from the sun and in mild temperatures. If it’s too hot in the area you’re painting, you should wait until it cools down in order to get a flawless finish.

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To help prevent the orange peel effect, make sure you’re not spraying too close to the car

How Auto Painting Professionals Can Fix the Orange Peel Effect

If the orange peel effect makes an unsightly appearance on one of your paint jobs, or if someone comes into your shop with a car that has the orange peel effect, it’s important you know how to fix the problem. Because sanding the surface of a vehicle is a precarious task, it’s best to start with less invasive measures first, before working up to sanding.

Start with a compounding polish to see if you can remove or minimize the effect. If polishing doesn’t work, the next step is to use extremely fine grained sandpaper, like a 3000 grit, and wet sand the area. In order to prevent damage, press lightly and refrain from sanding too vigorously. If the fine sandpaper isn’t working, slowly work your way down in grit until it starts smoothing out the bumpy surface of the paint. After you’re finished sanding away the orange peel effect, make sure you polish the area so the paint job looks shiny and new again.

Did you know our graduates go on to start promising auto painting careers?

Contact Automotive Training Centres to learn how you can start your automotive career!

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