Stripping the paint from a car is a tedious process, but it can save a considerable sum of money to do it yourself as opposed to paying a professional.

Choose a block of time that spans a day or two, and anticipate sore muscles and fatigue once the process is through.

Read on to learn how to strip paint from a car via two methods: through abrasion and by using chemical paint thinner.

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Abrasive removal of paint

Step 1: Remove accent pieces from your car. To prevent damaging your accents, such as the hood ornament or door handles, remove them before beginning the paint stripping process.

Place them in a safe area you can easily find once your car is repainted.

Step 2: Choose the proper grit of sandpaper. If you want to completely strip the paint, start with 80-grit sandpaper, using either a power sander or a sanding block. Ideally, you should use the best sander you have to remove car paint, but a block will work too. If you only need to remove a top layer of paint, go with a finer grit sandpaper, such as 400.

Step 3: Sand down one section at a time. Choose one part of the vehicle for your focus, and use a circular motion with the sander until the bulk of the the paint you want removed is gone.

If taking the sanding all the way down to the metal, switch to a fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface and sand lightly in the same circular motion.

Step 4: Rinse. Abrasive paint removal creates a lot of dust.

Rinse the area off with clean water from a hose so you can see if the paint is completely stripped.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 if needed on that area, and then move on to a new area with steps 3 and 4 until the paint has been entirely removed.

Chemical removal of paint

Step 1: Mask off sections. Remove accent pieces from your car and mask off seams and glass with masking tape. This prevents the chemicals from damaging non-painted surfaces.

Step 2: Wear protective gear. Use safety glasses, plastic gloves, and a face mask or respirator to protect yourself from chemical damage.

It is also advisable to cover as much skin as possible with long sleeves and pants.

Step 3: Apply chemical paint stripper to the painted sheet metal. Depending on the chemical’s container, you will either spray it on or brush it onto the paint you want to strip.

Let it sit the amount of time indicated on the product’s label, which can vary between 10 minutes and 2 hours.

Step 4: Scrape off the paint. Use a plastic scraper to peel off the paint that has been softened by the chemical stripper.

Step 5: Remove the masking from seams and manually remove the paint. Use a rough-grit sandpaper with a medium to heavy touch.

Step 6: Wash it off. Take off any other masking on your car and

Take off any other masking on your car and wash it with a mild detergent, such as a soap water mixture using dish detergent.

Then, rinse it with clean water. This neutralizes the paint stripper.

Once you have stripped the paint from your car, you may opt to have it repainted. Even if you choose to get a professional paint job, you will save a lot of money by doing the paint stripping yourself. You also gain the satisfaction of playing a large role in the transformation of your vehicle’s appearance.

With a fresh coat of paint, it’s even easier to keep your car looking its best with regular polishing and interior cleaning . And don’t forget to make sure your car has the best insurance coverage to protect your sparkling ride.

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MORE: How to touch up car paint


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