Custom Paint Tips
*When trying to choose the right color for your ride, narrow the choices down by selecting a particular color "family" first. For example, reds and oranges, or blues and greens, or light metallics, or earthtones.
*Pick a color you can live with for a long time. Paint is expensive. You don't want to be doing this again in five years.
*A paper match (available for free everywhere) can be used as a makeshift brush to touch up tiny scratches. Remove the match from the book and use the match base (not the sulfur-coated head) as a substitute for a fine paintbrush.
*Pick a color that goes with the style of the car. Don't paint your Deuce roadster Pepto Pink if you want it to look like it just rolled out of the '50s.
*Ask for second opinions on color combos from friends or spouses who have good taste. Don't ask for advice from your buddy who wears plaid pants and white patent-leather shoes.
*Don't ask too many people, though. Outside opinions are valuable, but too much input can lead to confusion, bland committee decisions, or a tasteless mish-mash of disparate elements.
*Have an artist help you by drawing or designing various paint colors and schemes, using either pens and paint or computer-illustration software.
*Be wary of trendy colors that are hot at the moment. Remember all that aqua and pink from 10-15 years ago? It looks dated today.
*Provide contrast, whether it's chrome or contrasting-color wheels, grille, etc. Too much of one color can be just that--too much. Most big-name builders are putting side trim and other limited brightwork on cars again.
*Don't paint yourself into a corner. There's nothing wrong with picking a color early, just be open to advice as the build process continues.
*Enamel and urethane can be sprayed over other paint, including lacquer, that has cured. Lacquer, on the other hand, adheres by etching into the surface and cannot be applied over enamel or urethane paint. Keep in mind that lacquer is illegal to use in many places, including California.
*Painting from a rattlecan can be tough in cold weather (meaning temps below 70 degrees F). Try warming up the spray can by running it under warm (not hot) water for a few seconds then shaking the can to distribute the warm paint. Never run pressurized aerosol cans under hot water.
*Touch up hard-to-reach areas or tiny paint chips too small for a sandpiper with a sanding pen, such as the Spot Sanding Pen from 3M or the PrepPen from Pro Motorcar Products. They resemble ink markers and have a pointy tip containing thousands of glass fibers that reach where sandpaper can't. You can find them all over the Internet.
*Black, red, yellow, orange-these have always been the most prevalent colors on hot rods and customs. Why not white? Benefits of this non-color are that it's cooler (temperature-wise anyway) than dark colors, doesn't show dirt or flaws as easily, goes with any other color, and makes a great base for flames or other graphics.
*Testing colors on lightbulbs is an old trick from the '50s (Larry Watson used it), still used today. Spherical objects work better than flat surfaces because they allow you to see how the paint will look on curves and in a variety of light and shade situations.
*When painting, keep color off the rubber and rims by using wheel and tire covers--a far easier alternative to masking tires and wheels. The store that sold you the paint probably carries these. Or mount an old set of wheel and tires while painting the car. You'll still have to mask off the wheelwells but not the rolling stock.
*Ensure a tabletop-smooth finish by spraying a light coat of black paint over the primered sheetmetal. After sanding the panel smooth with 320-grit sandpaper, you'll notice all the slight depressions indicated by the black paint. Reprimer and repeat until you've got a smooth surface.
* Here's how to remove outline masking tape without goofing up the graphics: Use a slow, steady motion and always pull the tape straight back. Pulling into or away from the fresh paint can create a tear or otherwise blemish the finish.
*Read lots of car magazines. Go to lots of car shows. Look at what the pros have done for ideas you can adapt to your own vision.
*Be careful with gimmicks, such as chameleon paint, metalflake, unusual graphics, and other styles that may be a passing fad.
*When selecting colors, don't limit yourself to color chips in books. Look for colors on new car lots and late-model cars on the street. Pay attention to how the color changes in different lights and angles, and try to image how it would work on your car.
* Building a driver? Talk to your painter or paint rep about paints and colors that are easy to touch up. If you're using a custom-blended hue, be sure to mix up a little extra for touch-ups.
*The Paint Pen from Eastwood Company is another pen-like product that is very useful. Each disposable pen holds 1/3 ounce of paint and is intended for touching up nicks and chips, or for small-detail work. Eastwood also has Touch-Up pens pre-loaded with fast-drying enamel paint in popular colors, plus "Aluma Blast" and "Almost Chrome."
*Be honest with yourself. A wild paint job may look cool on somebody else's car, but don't go too crazy with your own paint scheme if your own taste is more conservative. After the initial rush wears off, you may wonder what the heck you were thinking.