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Expectations for paint?


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My '64 got a dent in transport so I'm going to shop around getting estimates to get it fixed so the transport company can pay me. While I'm going around, I'm going to see about getting the car repainted, although I'm pretty sure it's out of my budget right now.

What should I expect to be done for a car that is painted correctly? This is an example of what I'm looking for ( and is a total guess ):

- Take the car apart, mask off anything not being painted

- Media blast / sand down to the metal

- Fix dents, etc. - Get the car smooth

- 1 coat of Primer

- 1 coat of Paint

- 1 coat of Finish

- Put it back together correctly

I want to be armed with the correct questions when I talk to people and value what you guys have to offer!


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As your Riviera most likely still has the original acrylic laquer on it, touch ups will be difficult, as you can't puts today's paint over it without seroius issues. The panel will need to be stripped, even for a small repair. Several questions exist as to the type of paint to be used. Base/clear, enamal, the new waterborn, and others, depending on location and shop of choice. Each of these require multiple coats to achieve the desired results, not just one. Very few shops are equipped to soda blast the old paint off and put the new paint on in the same facility. Transportation to and from a seperate site for this purpose, and the blasting itself, may need to be a seperate package with a different individual/company, if you choose to have the old paint removed this way. Others with a lot more knowledge will chime in, but this will get you started.

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Prices will vary wildly when considering and overall paint. Just like rebuilding an engine, the level of perfection you choose is directly proportional to the cost.

A high end paint job where all trim and weatherstripping is removed and the surface is taken to bare metal will cost at the very min $6000 and thats if there is no rust to repair and minimal dents. Typically it will be closer to $10,000 and up for a turnkey job. Anyone who does it cheaper is using inferior materials, taking shortcuts, or isn't making a profit.

With few exceptions, there are always surprises when you strip a car to bare metal that will add to the cost unexpectedly. If you go that far the glass should be removed and resealed and should also consider having them do the underside of the hood. So you see, this is just a small sampling of how it can snowball.

If you want a presentable job (not show quality) that will serve well for general cruising and what-not, the easily removeable trim can be taken off and the rest masked. The existing paint prepped and sealed,primed then the finish coat applied and that will be much less money. Since much of the cost is in prep, by not stripping to bare metal you can cut the cost in half or less. You can choose to not paint the door and trunk jambs, edges of the hood, etc, which will also cut cost. Basecoat clearcoat final finishes are a common choice for higher end jobs but there are single stage paints that are much cheaper depending on your budget. Talk to the shop about price and performance differences between them.

Its all in what you want. When shopping for a paint job decide ahead of time what quality you want and be very specific and get it in writing. If it does not meet your expectations let them know it will be rejected. Many shops are capable of doing excellent work but the average customer doesn't care about perfection nor wants to pay for it so thats what they assume unless you discuss a different level of expectation up front and are very specific.

Small amounts of orange peel, sanding scratches, dirt specs, overspray, waviness, and slight misalignment of panels are just some of the common defects in an average paint job. How much of each you are willing to accept should be clarified.

I can be more specific as far as what to ask depending what level of job you decide on.

Edited by JZRIV (see edit history)
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I do all my own paint and bodywork and I can tell you straight up that you will get exactly what you pay for, which means being very, very specific in what you want. As mentioned your car is probably in lacquer currently unless it was redone. One coat of primer over bare is just the epoxy primer or etch if you're more old school. If you want it lazer straight and believe me you do, nothing makes your car look worse than a new paint job on an old body. Your looking at multiple high build primer coats with blocking, over and over again, I do this at least 3 times with 2 - 3 coats each time. Paint is another 3 coats depending on what you're using and then clear coat is good for 3 more at least if you ant to color sand and buff. I could go on forever but the wife's calling me for dinner :D

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