Eliminate Orange Peel Texture in Car Paint with These Pro Tips

02/14/2024

Tackling Orange Peel in Polyurethane-Based Automotive Paint

Orange peel, characterized by a textured surface that resembles the skin of an orange, is a common problem that detracts from the smooth appearance of a painted vehicle. Understanding why orange peel occurs and how to prevent and fix it is essential for automotive painters aiming for a flawless finish.

Causes of Orange Peel

The texture arises from the paint not flowing out into a smooth layer after application, due to various factors:

  • Improper Paint Thinning: Paint that's too thick can't flow out smoothly, creating a textured surface as it dries.
  • Incorrect Spray Gun Setup: An improperly adjusted spray gun, including the air pressure, nozzle size, and fluid delivery, can result in uneven paint application.
  • Fast Drying Conditions: When paint dries too quickly, it doesn't have time to level out, leading to a textured finish. This can be caused by high temperature, low humidity, or excessive airflow.
  • Technique Issues: Moving the spray gun too quickly, holding it too far from the surface, or applying inconsistent coats can all contribute to orange peel.

Preventing Orange Peel

Achieving a smooth finish starts with prevention:

  • Correct Paint Viscosity: Thin the paint according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Use a viscosity cup to ensure the paint has the right consistency for optimal flow.
    • Note: Our custom mixed paint is always thinned according to the manufacturer's specifications.
  • Spray Gun Adjustment: Set your spray gun correctly, adjusting the air pressure, nozzle size, and fluid control for even paint distribution.
  • Control Environmental Conditions: Paint in an environment with controlled temperature and humidity to prevent the paint from drying too quickly. Avoid painting in direct sunlight or windy conditions.
  • Refine Technique: Maintain a consistent 6-8 inches distance from the surface, and move the spray gun at a steady pace to apply even coats.

Correcting Orange Peel

If orange peel occurs, it can be corrected with the following steps:

  • Let the Paint Cure: Wait for the paint to fully cure as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Attempting corrections on partially cured paint can cause more issues.
  • Wet Sanding: Start with a fine-grit wet sandpaper (e.g., 1500 grit) and gently sand the affected area to smooth out the texture. Use plenty of water to prevent the sandpaper from clogging.
  • Polishing: After sanding, use a polishing compound and a high-speed buffer to restore the shine and achieve a smooth finish. Be careful not to burn through the paint by keeping the buffer moving and not applying too much pressure.
  • Reapply if Necessary: In cases where sanding and polishing do not fully correct the issue, a light reapplication of paint following the prevention tips above may be necessary.

Conclusion

Orange peel is a common issue but one that can be prevented and corrected with proper technique, preparation, and environmental control. By understanding the causes and implementing these solutions, painters can achieve a smooth, professional finish on vehicles painted with polyurethane-based automotive paints. Remember, practice and patience are key to mastering the art of automotive painting and overcoming challenges like orange peel.