Do-It-Yourself: Panel Beating and Spray Painting

Where do I start?

There are people who like to do minor repair work on their motor car but have little knowledge of how to go about it.  A great deal of information and videos are available on the internet on how to go about panel beating and spray painting.

When looking for advice on “how to” via the internet, it is advisable to spend some time evaluating multiple video clips to get as much knowledge as you can.  Some clips complete the repair and painting process by utilizing time lapse photography. They don’t take into consideration the time required to do a good job that equates to a quality finished product.

Making sure that you have the correct tools and materials to do the job is essential!


You also need to consider your health and the health of those around you: increased noise levels, harmful dust particles, cleaning chemicals, paint fumes, over spray, misplaced or mis-used tools. The time required is probably the most overlooked and under-estimated component!


The key to a quality finish is to start with a clean working area. Then ensure everything required to complete the job is readily accessible as needed.

Tiny scratches can in some instances be taken care of by utilizing touch up paint in minimal time and without a great outlay. These blemishes could be the result of shopping trolley scratches, accidently knocking a gate post, nudging a curb or another object while reversing or parking.

Larger amounts of damage could be repaired at home in the garage or a covered in area but will require good preparation and more patience to complete them.


Modern vehicles tend to have strong plastic panels to complete the vehicle shell.

Small scratches could be as simple as a rub down with the appropriate grades of wet and dry sandpaper, a skim coat of plastic, further rubbing down and undercoat as needed.  Follow this with topcoat and finishing the area with a good polish.

Larger dents in plastic could result in replacing panels as required and both undercoating and colour matching the paint to suit.


In the case of larger work to be carried out, good quality equipment is a must.  This may involve having specialized air or power tools.

Firstly, an air compressor that can deliver a continuous air supply with a minimum 80PSI or 5.5 Bar pressure. This must be accompanied with a quality inline air dryer preceding the supply hose for the spray gun.  Spray guns must be capable of administering a variety of spray putties, undercoats and topcoats.

Air or power tools could range from a 100mm grinder through to a 225mm grinder and in some cases a reciprocating saw.

To complete the job to a showroom finish a good quality buffing machine is always recommended.


Special care should be taken with selecting the correct paint to spray your vehicle. Many cars now have two pack automotive paint topcoats.  There are still some vehicles that are finished in acrylic paint.  These would usually be older vehicles and in a few cases more aged veteran vehicles would have a duco finish on them. It is best to check this out with a good auto paint supplier to ensure you buy the correct topcoat that is required. You could make an expensive mistake!


To assist people wanting to repair their motor vehicle at home, here is a list of tools and consumable items that may assist in completing the task with minimal issues.  Keep in mind not all these items would be required for minor scratch repairs or smaller dent repairs:



Wet and Dry abrasive papers (80 to 1200 grit) Body filler
Wax and Grease remover Rust Converter
Primer (light) Etch Primer
Primer (heavy) Automotive putty
Masking tape Plastic drop sheets
Paint (topcoat) Paint Stripper
Suitable Thinners Cutting compound
Polish Seam Sealer
Underbody Tar Stop Putty
Rubbing Blocks Tack Rags
Forming Hammers Spanners, Screwdrivers, Pliers
Plastic Applicators Dollies
Flapper Discs (80 – 120 grade) Body Rasps
Cutting wheels (100×22.5x1mm) Body files
Air/Electric Grinders Putty Knives
Reciprocating Saw Compressor
Buffing Wheel Spray guns
In Line Air Dryer Air hose


Essential Items – protective equipment:


Protective Clothing Eye goggles Appropriate footwear.
Ear Muffs/Plugs Dust mask Gloves
Spray Mask


If you have had trouble getting a good quality finish, it could be one of the following issues:

Orange peel – the paint is going on inconsistently and is too dry.

Bubbling – there is a reaction to the preparation work that was done. Start again!

Flaking – the surface preparation was not good enough and the paint will not adhere correctly. Start again!

Pitting – this is usually an indication of an area that has not had enough primer work completed. Start again!


Don’t be disheartened as these things happen to the professionals as well.  It is a lesson in learning what not to do and with some persistence can be rectified. If all else fails, take it to the professionals at Full Blown Kustoms!