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Wetsanding

Sometimes the only way to remove or lighten a heavy imperfection is by sanding the paint surface. This can be a fast and effective way to remove a heavy scratch or scuff, if you are skilled and very careful. On the other hand, this method may lead to a trip to the spray booth if you are over enthusiastic and not aware of when to stop!  

Another reason people come to us for wet sanding is to create a flawless, show car finish over the entire vehicle.  A finish that is completely clear and/or defect free. A wet sanded finish offers exceptional depth, clarity, gloss and shine.

In order to create these characteristics, the paint must be completely flat and free from any orange-peel as well as any other above/below surface paint defects. When we use the term "flat" to describe paint we don't mean as in a 'matte' or 'low gloss' finish, we mean the surface is completely flat like a piece of glass. When the finish is completely flat, it will reflect crisp, clear images like a mirror with no distortion; this is referred to as D.O.I. or Distinction of Images. To get an automotive finish completely flat or level, the paint must be sanded flat and then buffed to a high gloss.

During the process of wet sanding we are actually "shaving" a microscopic layer of clear coat off the paint surface, eliminating any imperfections along with it. The process therefore can remove scuffs or marks, however it's also used to eliminate:

  • Runs or Sags

These are beads, droplets, larger globules or "curtain effect" in the paint finish on vertical surfaces. This is caused by paint mixture too slow (hardener, thinner), viscosity too low (too thin), paint applied too thick, paint technician application error etc.

  • Orange Peel

One of the greatest imperfections. Due to new paint technologies, many new vehicles can suffer from this bad paint finish, otherwise known as orange peel. Orange peel is the name given to a slightly rippled effect on the paintwork... similar to what you find on an orange.

There are other differing factors that contribute to causes of orange peel, but normally it's as follows: when a vehicle is sprayed at the factory, the build up of multiple wet layers of paint combined with the spray guns pushing out a lot of air cause the airstream to leave a visible rippled effect finish. Think of these ripples like waves, consisting of peaks and troughs on your paintwork surface. A highly experienced wet-sander is able to carefully shave down the peaks to the level of the troughs, which means that the orange-peel is fully removed without reducing the thickness of the clearcoat from its original lowest point at all.

  • Blend Lines

Blend lines in paint are where the original paint meets the new fresh paint, a technique is used to overly thin down the paint (lacquer top coat) at the location of the join area, which in turn results in a poorer finish with time around this area. This technique is widely used within the smart repair industry as it's not normal to paint entire complete panels.

In many cases wet sanding can be more effective than trying to machine correct (polishing /compounding) these imperfections out . Wet sanding will not create the heat associated with machine correction if carried out correctly, and will be less aggressive than machine correction, but special care and measurements must be taken throughout the entire process. If done correctly, wet sanding will actually remove LESS lacquer (top clear coat) than heavy machine correction (as done in body shops).

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