Roll-On Paint Job How To Paint Your Car With A Roller (TUTORIAL)

Roll-On Paint Job …dude repaints the 1990 Toyota Corolla with a paint brush roller…Here’s the paint before he started. It was in poor condition, heavily oxidized, and the white primer was showing through in spots on the trunk lid and the roof. The brown spot on the back of the roof is rusty bare metal. The heavy oxidation makes the hail dents harder to see, but they’re there.

The right-rear quarter panel was dented just below the tail light and above the wheel. The dent above the wheel had stretched the metal and couldn’t simply be pushed out. Also the vinyl pin striping was falling apart.

Dents in the Fender
There were a matching pair of dents above and below the headlight. When this dent happened, I hammered them out to the shape they are here, put on a spot of paint to slow down the rust, and replaced the headlight, it’s been like this for the last five years. Also, more of the heavy oxidation on the hood and the failing pin-stripes.

Dents around the headlight
The original color and finish is still apparent in the door jambs.

Twenty-One Years of Texas Sun
I cautiously started on the trunk lid, just in case things didn’t go well. Here’s the trunk lid after some wet sanding and a couple glaze coats of filler. Sanding away the top layers of paint gives the new paint a solid base for adhesion. The filler levels in the low spots from the hail dents.

Starting on the Trunk Lid
The paint, Rust-oleum oil-based enamel, turned out to be a near perfect color match. I mixed the paint 50/50 with mineral spirits. The mineral spirits help the paint to “flow out” and slowed the drying time so I could work it longer. The paint and mineral spirits weren’t readily miscible so I had to mix and shake them in the glass jar before going to the roller tray. The paint and mineral spirits would separate after a few hours of standing.

Painting Supplies
I put some rattle can primer on because I had gone down to bare metal, and because I thought it would help to seal the the filler, it didn’t. I used a 4” high density foam roller. You can see the orange peel in the reflection in the paint, after a few minutes that flowed out and left a smooth coat.

First Coat of Paint
After I put two coats on the trunk, I was so pleased that I decided to go for it. The second weekend I prepped the roof and the hood.

I didn’t put primer on the the roof and so it took a few extra coats to get coverage. You can see the different colors clearly through the first coat.

The Roof
The hood had the worst of the hail dents. On the horizontal surfaces I could put the paint on heavier without as much worry about runs or sags. The roller left heavy orange peel, but that flowed out after a few minutes of standing.

Painting the hood
I drove around for a week with new paint on the hood, roof, and trunk. There was a bad hail dent on the hood that still didn’t look right, and it was right in the drivers line of sight, so I had to rework it. A nice thing about painting like this is that it’s no big deal to fix mistakes and then keep adding more coats.

Hood Rework
On the third weekend I did the rest of the car. I removed trim, masked and sprayed the rest of my can of primer over the new bodywork. The repair to the dent in the rear fender was lagging behind and I had to save it for another weekend.

I sprayed a can of red spray paint over the primer to make an ever color base for the rolled on paint. Red paint pigments aren’t as strong and take more coats to cover. I figured spraying red over the primer would save me from having to put on so many coats with the roller.

Spray Painted
I sanded between every other coat. I could get in one sanding and roll on two coats on in a day. Here’s the second coat going on.

Second Coat
The paint was starting to get some depth by the fourth coat. I sanded out the orange peel between every other coat. I used 600 grit after the second coat and 1000 grit after the fourth.

Fourth Coat
Some places like most of the hood, the roof and the trunk had gotten more coats. But after getting at least six coats everywhere I figured that I had enough paint on the car that I could color sand and polish without worrying about burning through.

At Least Six Coats Everywhere
Here’s the hood after color sanding with 1500 grit sandpaper. Color sanding takes out any dust or dirt that got stuck in the wet paint and levels out the orange peel and any runs. After color sanding I polished the paint back out by hand. I took this picture after polishing the left third of the hood. I’ve never had good luck with machine buffing and doing it by hand is a lot less likely to burn through the paint.

Color Sand and Polish
I started with the Turtle wax polishing compound to get a quick cut and take out the 1500 grit sanding marks, but it would never bring out a shine. The Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound took out the haze the polishing compound left and brought out a nice shine. The swirl remover comes last, right before the first coat of wax.

Polishing Agents
After the first polishing I was pleased with the depth in the hood. You cant tell from the photo, but the fender hasn’t been sanded and polished yet.

Hood Polished
Nice depth to the shine on the trunk lid after polishing. Shiny paint in deep colors shows off all you bodywork defects.

Shiny Trunk Lid
Here’s a good shot that shows how shiny the new paint is. I was worried that I would color sand too much and burn through the paint so I went easy and as a result ended up leaving a little orange peel in the finish.

Polished Left Rear Door
I went over it one more time with the swirl remover compound to take out any of the marks from the polishing compound. Then the last step was to put on the first coat of wax.

Polishing Complete - First Coat of Wax Applied
Five weeks later and it’s all done. I drove the car the whole time except for the eight days while it was masked. I totaled up all my receipts and had spent just over $180.

Before and After

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