How to blend auto painting over a clear coat

Written by paul miceli Google
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How to blend auto painting over a clear coat
A seamless blended repair over existing paintwork should be invisible to the naked eye. (rear corner panel showing the light assembly of an suv. image by JoLin from

Blending a solid or metallic paint colour over an existing clear coat is a challenging task that requires a high level of automotive refinishing skill. By blending a panel instead of painting it completely, there is no need to worry about edge-to-edge colour matching, particularly if a scratch or blemish is in the middle of a panel. However, the blending process itself needs to be seamless, otherwise coloured edges will be visible once a fresh layer of clear coat is applied.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • P1000-grit wet-and-dry paper
  • Ultra-fine grade sanding pad
  • Water
  • Flatting compound
  • Chamois leather
  • Air blower
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Degreaser
  • Masking tape
  • Masking paper
  • Continuous polythene sheeting
  • Tack cloth
  • Spray gun
  • Clear blending thinners
  • Coloured paint
  • Compatible paint hardener
  • Clear coat

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  1. 1

    Take a piece of P1000-grit wet-and-dry paper and lightly dampen it. Use the paper to rub out existing paintwork imperfections, keeping the repair as small as possible. Take an ultra-fine grade sanding pad and dip it into a bucket of water. Add a small quantity of flatting compound to the sanding pad and rub down the panel completely. The flatting compound will dull the existing paintwork to provide a highly adhesive surface for fresh paint.

  2. 2

    Dry the panel with a chamois leather and use an air blower to clear all traces of excess water from apertures and mouldings. Wipe the surface of the panel with a piece of lint-free cloth that has been lightly soaked with degreaser to remove the final traces of the flatting compound and to promote tape adhesion during the masking process. Use tape and paper to mask out the repaired panel and cover the rest of the vehicle with continuous polythene sheeting to eliminate the risk of over-spray. Wipe over the surface thoroughly with a tack rag.

  3. 3

    Add a small amount of clear blending thinner to a spray gun and apply one full coat to the surface of the panel from a distance of 6 to 8 inches. Clean the gun immediately afterwards. While the blending thinner is curing, activate the paint with a compatible hardener and stir thoroughly before pouring it into the spray gun. Check that the blending thinner has cured by dabbing the masking paper to see if over-spray is dry.

  4. 4

    Locate the repaired area and apply a medium volume coat of colour. Blend into the existing clear coat from a distance of 4 to 6 inches by starting at the top middle section of the repair and work downwards, keeping arm movements to a minimum. As you reach the end of the repaired area on each stroke, flick the gun away from the panel at a 90 degree angle. This will distribute paint further along the panel to provide an effective blend without the worry of colour reaching the panel edges and producing a poor match.

  5. 5

    Allow the first coat to cure for ten minutes before applying a full volume second coat. Work from the top middle section of the repair again but this time, ensure the 90 degree flick at the end of each arm movement extends beyond the blended area of the first coat. This will provide seamless paint integration and a perfect colour match.

  6. 6

    Leave the base colour to dry completely before wiping the panel with a clean tack cloth. This will remove any over-spray so that the fresh clear coat remains free from dirt and imperfections. Apply two full coats of clear coat to restore shine with a 10-minute gap in between to allow for curing. Leave the vehicle to dry overnight before unmasking.

Tips and warnings

  • Blending is a difficult painting technique so practice on old panels to perfect your skills.

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