Posts Tagged ‘priming process’

I’m Tim Briggs, owner of Collision Edge. We are dedicated to the success of our customers. Putting it simply, we find new solutions to old problems. Collision Edge Website

A battle for the ages. Body techs and painters have been arguing about filler work since the day the first shop split up Combo Techs! It’s easy to make filler straight with coarse abrasives, but the devil is in the details when refining filler for primer and final paint. Why do many technicians think primer is a magic wand? Let’s discuss the why’s and how’s to a better paint foundation.

Pictured above is a typical repair that paint shops are priming up day in and day out. So what is the big deal? Consider this.

Thermal Expansion- Every form of matter expands and contracts at its own rate when the temperature changes.

filler repairs are a lot like blending a color, the goal is to mask the expansion and contraction of various materials by priming over the exposed repair elements ( Plastic Filler, Glaze, Etch Primer, Ecoat, ect) create a consistent surface. Sand scratches create problems because they expose different materials in a pattern left by the “wounded surface” of a panel.

Urethane Primer- Everyone knows that lacquer primer doesn’t do the job, but even the best Urethane Primers are still over 50% solvent.  Some of the solvent will remain in the dry film for a significant time after it is dry and sanded so some shrink will always occur no matter which primer you use. For this reason, many custom painters will sand a filler to open the surface to allow the solvent to escape several days before re-priming. The primer shouldn’t be over-applied for these same reasons. Two priming applications are often better than one because less solvent is trapped at the surface. Waiting on primer or multiple priming applications is not practical for a production shop,   so it most crucial to minimize sand “gouging” during minor panel repairs. Courser abrasives are great for shaping a surface, but technicians have to be careful to first minimize deep scratches but later refine those scratches with finer abrasives before priming.


Guide Coat- Guide Coat is the best way to identify stray scratches that will cause priming issues. Many companies offer great solutions, some like Mirka even offer additional color options like White. Sanding filler with the next finest grit doesn’t really count unless a technician completely removes the coarser scratch. Guide coat is the best way to identify if this has been accomplished.


Photo Courtesy of Boothtalk – Jeremy Winters

Pin Holes – Let’s talk about pinhole repair. The Most obvious answer is “Don’t make pinholes” and if you talk to good people that make your filler they are sure to be able to give you some tips that will minimize pinholes (that is a topic for another day).   One product does stand out to use in conjunction with your primer.  Evercoat 440 Express is a unique product that if used correctly will make a big difference in your filler finish. This product will not fill every pinhole or sand scratch, but is a nice addition for certain minor defect correction. We grabbed the application instructions and posted them here.


Big Jobs. If for whatever reason you need heavy filling capability over large areas, many people use a product called “Polyester Primer”. Polyester primer is a very low solvent primer that is slow to dry, but has minimal shrink because it’s essentially a fiberglass resin barrier coat that acts like a “Spray on Bondo”. Note that it is advisable to topcoat Polyesters with “Urethane Primer” to maximize topcoat adhesion and seal the porous surface left behind after the Polyester is sanded. (Don’t wet sand polyester)


Photo Courtesy of Rob Paddock – Paddocks Paint Works. Rob Uses Clausen Rust Defender.


Spray Gun Selection. Here is what we recommend. Dig the nastiest gun you own out of thIMG_0959e bottom your toolbox and Throw it away! Primer is the foundation of a paint job and yet many technicians choose to use inconsistent, poor atomizing guns because “It doesn’t seem to matter”. Wel,l guess what,it does! Poor atomizing guns pack solvent into your primer bed. These same solvents have to come out later. After all your hard work to make that glassy finish, we don’t want you to be dissatisfied. Secondly, Feed your gun clean dry air, and don’t forget about high flow fittings, they make a huge difference in your guns performance.

There are many good spray gun companies in the market at any price point you choose, we are most confident in SATA spray equipment. SATA makes a really nice primer gun. We talked to Miguel Perez from MAPR Designs recently about his choice of primer guns. Miguel uses the SATA 100 BF for his work at Extreme Performance in South Florida. Miguel told us that this gun offers the consistency and versatility he’s after all at a price point that delivers the goods for his priming needs. 




Approach to Sanding Method. Scratch depth varies according to the sanding method. Straight Line sanding creates the deepest cornrow in your substrate, Orbital sanding results in a shallower scratch and surprisingly the bigger the orbit the sallower the scratch. (keep this in mind for finish sanding too.)

Sandpaper construction. Scratch depth for the same grit across multiple manufactures varies because of the construction of the abrasive. Think of the abrasives as rocks buried in mud, all are the same size, some are sunk into the abrasive adhesive resin and dry lubricant deeper that others.  In short 80 Grit in one brand may leave a finer or coarser cut than another. Be aware and use what seems to work best for you. Today’s fillers sand very easily, 80 Grit is the new 40 Grit when it comes to filler leveling.  Pay attention to the adjacent area around your repair to minimize the size of the repair. Don’t be afraid to use tape to protect areas you don’t want to sand, this will save everyone a lot of time.

100 Grit Rule. Pay attention to the 100 Grit Rule as much as possible. If you start with 80 Grit, refine that to 180 Grit (remember your guide coat will tell you if you removed all the deeper scratches) Refine your 180 Grit with minimum 240 but ideally 240 followed by 320 Grit. Use guide coat between each sanding operation. (you can also use some powder guide coat in clear coat blocking!)

Wrap Up. If you are priming over an average 180 grit scratch, you are trying to fill too deep a profile. Consider taking the extra step in sanding to minimize many downstream issues that are created by primer shrinkage.

Collision Edge is committed to solving problems for the Collision Repair Market. Visit our website

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We have all been there. A peaceful morning in the shop office is shattered by a single phone call.  The callers question? “When will my car be ready?” Off to the races, receptionist says “Hold on a minute,let me check!” Then we proceed to interrogate everyone in the shop office, head to the body shop and ultimately we end up in the paint shop asking the painter when he is going to get that car done…(which by the way he just got a few minutes ago because of everything else that delayed the car for the last 10 days!)…and then we talk about needing faster paint or a better painter or someone to come fix our “bottleneck” in paint!

Hello! I Tim Briggs and I feel your pain. If this has never played itself out in your shop office, stop reading here and check out another post on our blog at

So…why is communication so hard? Its hard because in Body Shops have tough jobs that involve many different people both inside and outside our business.

Common Answer: I’ll just “buy a management system”. This is not a bad idea, but don’t waste your money unless you intend to build your communication process first. These free tools from Google will help you with that…

Years ago I bought a day planner thinking “This will organize me”…I doodled in it, made notes, carried it around and finally threw it in the trash because I found I didn’t have time to be organized because I was too busy! I bought a solution to a problem, but failed to execute the solution because it was someone else’s system and I didn’t take the time to wrap my activities around it.

If you can’t draw your process in crayon on your office wall, don’t expect a piece of software to do any better. (Seriously, don’t draw on your walls with crayon, the guys with white coats will find you and dart you!)

Google Apps offers some serious benefits to shop owners with ZERO cost.

I’m not a paid Google spokes person.  When I find simple solutions for my customers that work I’m going to talk about them! Google has created software versions similar to Word, Excel and Powerpoint. These programs are offered free to registered users. They are not as pretty as other programs, but boy are they powerful. Here is why. We all use excel to create to go lists, process sheets and if we get really fancy financial tracking. These sheets are typically locked away on one computer in the shop or maybe they are even on a shared server. Even still edits are painful because of versioning and other issues. Google sheets looks ordinary, even cheap compared to Excel…with one exception…50 people can be on a single sheet at one time editing cell by cell beside each other LIVE with autosave every time you click out or hit the enter button. So what is the win? You can now create and share your production sheet with your entire organization simultaneously and allow your people to edit the sheet live. Here is an example.

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We created this for a customer to track jobs through various production phases. All of these files are stored in another App called “Google Drive” your password protected Google Drive holds all types of files. You can even create subfolders for say “each customer” and have all of your people upload or view vehicle pics right from their smartphone over your wireless for Free. This stops the question “You got a picture of where these emblems go boss?”

I’ve used this app to set up parts return logs, parts room inventories of “leftover un-returnable items” whatever. Its very easy to work with once its set up.

Google calendars offers the ability to create individual employee calendars as well as shared calendars and email reminders to coordinate all of your staff together. Schedule cars in and out, keep up with booth maintenance items and remember your anniversary or spouse’s birthday all at once, totally secure, with the ability to display multiple calendars on top of each other all driven by your log in. You have total control of who sees what, when and where.

Google communities and Google Groups, offers you the ability to create a closed group that stream post like other social media outlets. Your people can collaborate 24/7 from any device.

Google Hangouts even allows you to video chat with anyone or any group of people anytime or anywhere you wish, even in your own building! Again, Free.

How cheap are big screen TV’s today? Any store you go to will have a 8 Zillion inch “old tech” tv for surprisingly cheap. Go out in your shop, hook up a $200 computer with a browser and your done. Put one in every department…It will pay for itself immediately and it raises the image of our collision centers.

I know many of you have already taken the technology plunge, this was not for you. If you have invested in I.T. make sure you are utilizing the functionality and getting good information out of your system. If you are not sure you are, then why are you paying for it each month? Keep it simple.

I hope this information was helpful to you. Please feel free to comment, subscribe and share our little blog. Find more information about us at We are always available to assist you in setting up your system.

Check out the Collision Edge Facebook page…we have a fun offer going on right now.

Have a good day yall!


Lets face it…production painting is hard work. Why make it harder?

My name is Tim Briggs. I have been standing and watching paint shops across North America run for years. During that time I’ve come to realize that getting cars done is all about the order and number of operations we perform. Cars don’t care how many times we touch them or how much time it takes to get them done.
Take the priming process for example. Lets assume we are priming a quarter panel with plastic filler just out of the body shop. How many times will we prep that car? You may have said “1”. I hope that is the case. Here is the reality. Many times we fail to plan the whole process because we are focused on the part of the job at hand. So here is how it goes…1. We check the filler for pinholes (a whole separate topic in itself). 2. We feather back the scratches around the filler. (Hopefully minor if the plastic process is right.) 3. We sand back to where we estimate the primer will end. 4. We soft line mask the primer area. 5. We clean and prime the car. 6. After dry time we unmask the car, block the primer, decide if we need to re prime (production killer) 7. We sand or scuff the rest of the quarter, sail, roof, etc. 8. We mask the car. 9. We catch any prep issues in the booth 10. We paint.

Sound pretty typical? Ok so here is the point. In this example alone, we turned one process into 3. Why do we sand for primer, sand for prep and sand to touch up in the booth. Its the same operation but it starts and stops 3 TIMES!

New process, 1. Check the filler. 2. Prep the entire job booth ready pay attention to detail. 3. Refine your scratches around the filler. 3. Do minimal masking, use short plastic instead of building tents out of 36″ green. Be smart with the way you prime, HVLP or even roll prime if the repair is small. 4. When the job is cured, block the primer and wrap up the car. 5. Paint.

Problems this solves.
1. If you have to go larger than you thought with the primer, there is no tear back from unprepared surface.
2. The sanding operation is done 1 time. (Hopefully from a prep cart so materials are handy and not wasted by throwing stuff on the floor between steps) less sandpaper used is important since 8-10% of a shops purchases are abrasives.
3. The bulk of the prep work is completed before the cure time wait. This gets the car in the booth faster once its dry.
4. Sanding the bulk of the job early reduces the sanding dust later in the process for cleaner paint jobs.
5. The biggest win…higher booth utilization. More cars, same effort, different order of (streamlined) operations.

Please feel free to comment and share as we all learn together.