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How To Blend Car Touch-Up Paint

Painting, or touching up your car's paint is an art form in itself that takes skills, practice, and patience to get it right. However, this is a talent that's gradually becoming ever easier for the average janes and joes to master, seeing how many fantastically simple - yet awesome - paint touch-up solutions there are out there. However, there is still one level above that many have yet to master - the blend.

For those who don't know, 'blending' is a process where you're helping to perfect the transition from the car's newly touched-up paint over a damaged area, and the rest of your car's paintwork that's already there. Naturally, the new and old paints might not match perfectly, even if they're both the exact same colour. The shading or texture might be slightly off. Usually, this won't be too obvious.

But sometimes, it can be a sight for sore eyes to see this one odd spot on your car, even if you're only touching up a small crack or chip. The slightest colour change will be very obvious, either darker or lighter, or perhaps the paint itself comes from a different batch or mix, which is different from the exact hue that you were expecting. This is why blending is such an important aspect of car paints.

>What Is Blending?

Let's say you've had your car sent to a body- or paint-shop to have a newly fitted bumper repainted after a repair. The process of blending involves the painter(s) trying their best at matching the colour and appearance of the paint that they'll apply solely on the bumper, to the rest of the car's fascia. This is essentially, therefore, a trick of the eye to make it seem like they're two coherent pieces. 

It's as though the bumper was the same colour and finish as the surrounding body panels, such as the fenders, bonnet, and so on. This is a common practice among professional paint shops, as rather than have the customer spend thousands painting the entire car, why not just have a single panel or two painted. This is a huge saving because paints are very complex to get it right.

You might be asking yourself - why can't you just get the perfectly matched paint in the first place? For example, why not take the precise batch of paint off your particular car, and one that's made in the same factory under controlled conditions such as temperature and humidity, and mix that one instead? Unfortunately, it's nigh on impossible to align the new and old paint's finish on the dot.

Causes For Imperfections

The car manufacturer, for example, might've ordered paints from different suppliers and companies. Although they've all agreed to the same underlying tone, subtle differences do appear. Or, perhaps the rest of your car's old and untouched paint has faded or dulled over the years and thus appears more aged than the new and freshly coated touch-up. 

Plus, there are some other variables at play as to why your newly applied paint doesn't match up with your car's existing paint, all factors for when you're putting on the paint... 

  • For metallic paints, you might be pointing the spray gun at the wrong angle, thus dispersing the metallic flakes in an odd pattern to the rest of the unfixed paint.
  • The pressure of the spray gun or can that you're using may distribute the paint, and thus its amount and spread onto the surface of your car, might cause it to be applied and cured differently. 
  • The distance that you're pointing the spray gun or can from the surface of the car also matters in how the paint will eventually be spread onto the surface, affecting its resulting appearance.
  • Temperature and humidity are important factors when painting, as they can cause the newly touched up or applied paint to dry faster or slower, resulting in a distinct finish that's unlike the rest.

The Blending Process

Right, so now that we've got the background of paint blending out of the way, how could we do and practice this on our car to make its paint looks as cohesive as possible. For a start, let this be a reminder that you can't - unless you're extremely talented and have had experiences with paint - easily blend touch-up paint using a paint pen or brush, which are the most common applicants.

Using either of these may make the touched-up paint appear darker, and this will be amplified once the clear coat is painted on. So, we'll rely on a spray gun, or spray can for this one...

Step 1: Tape off the areas around the damaged area, so that you don't accidentally blend perfectly good paint. Set up an area with a 2-feet radius from the centre of the point of damage with the use of masking tape, and maybe some old newspapers.

Step 2 Scuff up a bit of the paint within that soon-to-be blended area with sandpaper. We don't want to coarse of sandpaper here, as we only need to sand away the upper layer of paint. A 2,000 grit sandpaper will be perfect for the job and be careful not to go over the edges of that 2-feet area.

Step 3 To prevent the risk of contaminants getting into the touch-up paint later, it's a good time to clean up the already sanded area. Use some water and mild car washing shampoo, and don't use any wax. Afterwards, dry out your car thoroughly with a clean microfibre towel.

Step 4 Now, you can start to apply the bottom basecoat layer over the section that you'd want to blend. As you're applying the paint, move the spray gun back and forth in a uniform pattern. Also, start the painting from the edge of the repaired area, and gradually spray less and less paint until you reach a distance of 1-feet, at which point you're applying only a thin mist. This is to trick your eyes into not easily knowing where the paint stops, and where it begins.

Step 5As you're applying the paint, you'll need two to three layers (or coats) of the basecoat done. After each layer, wait to make sure it's properly dried before adding the next layer, and so on. After all the layers are complete, leave the car untouched to settle and cure overnight.

Step 6 Inspect to see if the basecoat has blended nicely with the rest of the paint. If it's all good, then you can move on to the upper clearcoatlayer. Apply two thin layers of clearcoat with the same method as you used before, to give your car its shiny and glossy sheen. When that's done, leave it to cure for two days

Step 7: The blended paint may still carry some imperfections, so it's a good idea to buff out all the flecks, blobs, impurities, and so forth. Immerse a 1,500 grit sandpaper in water, and proceed to wet sand the blended area. Carefully move in uniform strokes, and re-wet the sandpaper as you go along. Then, you can move to a finer 2,000 grit sandpaper to once again wet sand and even out the surface.

Step 8: Give your car another wash, and examine your car under sunlight to see if the blending was a success. If there's still contrast between the old and new paint, you can go ahead and try to wet sand the blended area again.