Sanding Clear Coat to Repaint – In 3 Effective Ways

Nowadays you can see all cars come with a clear coat finish on them to make them look more shiny, glossy, and beautiful. A clear coat includes a paint job that protects the paint of the vehicles from fading and decreases harsh environmental impacts on them. It also works as a UV protector.

Moreover, it makes the vehicle worthier and lasts forever. However, to hold on to the luster of the clear coat, maintaining it is important. To restore its originality or for the repainting purpose, you might need to sand and wax the clear coat. Especially when the clear coat comes with a formula that protects the base coat then waxing regularly is important.

Well, sanding clear coat to repaint is a task mostly done by professionals since the job is not that easy. Yet, you can get the sanding done and then eventually go for buffing once you know the process. So, let us guide you in this regard and know the entire process of sanding clear coat to repaint.

Sanding Clear Coat to Repaint

Sanding Clear Coat to Repaint – A Complete Guide:

If you are up to sand clear coat, dry sanding is not recommended at all. It will ruin the original paint of your car. Hence, the only way out is wet sanding it. It is the most accepted way to decline paint flaws. Sanding is also important when you discover orange peels on your car. Removing the orange peel cannot be possible only with waxing. To reduce the bad effect of orange peel, wet sanding and buffing the clear coat is highly effective.

They help to eliminate the effects of orange peel. However, the intensity of orange peel depends on the thickness of the paint and clear coat. Now to repaint your vehicle sanding the clear coat properly is the main thing. You have to go through several steps to achieve a perfect sanding of clear coat.

So, let’s get to the process of sanding clear coat to repaint.

First, Prepping the Vehicle and Sandpaper for Sanding the Clear Coat:

Preparing your vehicle is the first and foremost thing to do for this purpose. For prepping the vehicle it requires nothing but some cleaning steps. Let’s get to them.

Required Materials:

  • Car washing Solution
  • Sandpaper
  • Rag
  • Bucket
  • Soap solution
  • Dry towel

1. Clean Your Vehicle Surface:

Anything you are up to do with your car, make sure you clean it first. Especially if you are dealing with the paint job, cleaning the exterior surface of the vehicle. However, to wash your car properly you can use soap or washing solutions that is specifically produced for car washing. If you are about to use a commercial product then must follow the instruction.

Just make sure, you clean off all the dirt, debris, and grime from the exterior surface. It will make your sanding process on a clear coat easier.

2. Let It Dry:

After cleaning your car properly, let the surface dry. You can leave it for air dry or wipe it down with a clean dry cloth or towel.

3. Soak All Sandpaper:

Soaked sandpaper

Now it is time for soaking sandpaper that you have for sanding the clear coat. For soaking all your sandpaper take a bucket full of clean water and soak all sandpaper in it. Leave them all for about an hour at least. The ultimate reason for soaking sandpaper is to soften their sharp edges. It is very important because if you sand dry sandpaper over a clear coat, it can damage the surface. So, to prevent scratches on the vehicle surface you must soak all sandpaper.

4. Don’t Forget About a Rag As Well:

Along with all sandpaper make sure you soak a rag as well and make it clean. Just take a bucket filled with the soap solution and dip the rag.

Second, The most Important Part ‘Sanding’:

soaking sandpaper for sanding clear coat

As said, this is the most important and crucial phase of this entire process. Carefulness is a must when you are doing the job. However, the most important material that is required in this phase is the sandpaper that you have already soaked in water. That is why wet sanding of clear coat to repaint is possible. Nonetheless, for better sanding, you will need two different grades of sandpaper.

Required Materials:

  • Soaked sandpaper
  • Wet rag
  • Protective gear

Now, that you know what you need for sanding clear coat, let’s get to the steps one by one.

1. First, Divide the Surface into Small Sections:

It is an ideal way of sanding a clear coat without hurting the paint and the vehicle. Now, you may become confused about the sizes you should take. Well, it is all your choice but if you go for each one square foot, it can bring a very good result. Just be aware of the fact that you do not re-sand the areas where you have already sanded. Make a good mark of the small sizes that you are going to divide.

It helps you to have an organized sanding task. Also, you will manage to sand the clear coat of the entire vehicle in no time. However, another good point of dividing the entire surface into small sections is that each part of the surface can be focused. Hence, there won’t be any chance that you leave a portion. You can focus on each part giving all your attention.

2. Sand with a Sanding Pad or Block:

Use sanding pad for sanding clear coats

It is suggested to use only a sanding pad or block for sanding clear coats. Do not do the mistake of using a power sander. Power sanders are meant to be heavy-duty. They will not offer you a gentle sanding process. Hence, sanding pads or sanding blocks are highly recommended.

3. Start Sanding the Clear Coat:

We have already mentioned that the process of sanding clear coats requires sandpaper of two different grades. Well, to get an excellent result you need to start with lower grit sandpaper and then gradually increase it to 1500 or 2000-grit sandpaper. This is a gentle way to deal with the clear coat when you are sanding. If you straight start sanding with higher grit sandpaper it can damage the paint.

Follow the Process While You are Sanding:

Be Careful About Pressure:

You cannot pressurize the process. This task needs to be done slowly and carefully. Hurry and forceful acts can ruin it all. So, put very little pressure throughout the entire sanding process.

Follow the Exact Way:

You cannot sand the surface just like that. You have to follow a proper way. This task requires the job of two hands simultaneously. Use one of your hands for holding soaked sandpaper and the other for holding a wet rag. Start sanding with soaked sandpaper following only one direction where the wind travels. Make all the strokes across the vehicle following the same direction. For example, you make the strokes with sandpaper from the bumper to the vehicle windshield.

Keep a Wet Surface While Sanding:

It is very important to keep the vehicle surface wet always when you are sanding the clear coat. So, use the wet rag that you are holding with another hand for this purpose. So, it is better if you keep sanding and swiping the rag over the surface simultaneously to achieve an optimum result.

Change Directions Periodically:

When you are sanding following only one direction for some time, it is time to change the direction. Now take a bit diagonal direction to cross out the previous strokes. While you are crossing out make sure you keep the vehicle surface wet properly. Otherwise, there are chances the strokes burn the clear coat.

Make Sure an Even Sanding:

sanding evenly the clear coat

It is another crucial thing to consider for sure. Even sanding is important if you want a perfect result. For perfect buffing, even sanding is also needed. So, make sure you are sanding evenly. You can keep inspecting your job periodically to know the progress and improvement. It is a bit time-consuming yet delivers the best result making sure of an even sanding.

4. Start Sanding with Higher-Grit Sandpaper:

When you are almost done with the first sanding, it is time you go for the second sanding. Whereas you have started the sanding process with 600 grit sandpaper, for the second sanding start with a 1500 or 2000-grit sandpaper. In this step, follow the process we have just stated above. However, throughout the whole sanding process make sure that the surface of the vehicle never gets dry even for a second.

5. Got a Dull Surface?

Well, that is the ultimate goal of this entire sanding of clear coat thing. Proper sanding will certainly result in a dull surface. And once you have managed to get it, you are all ready to jump for the next step.

Lastly, Go with Buffing:

When you are done with sanding the clear coat, it is important to get started with the buffing next. Buffing is mostly done with polish There are some materials that you will certainly need for buffing purposes.

Required Materials:

  • Electric buffer
  • Foam pad
  • Finishing polish
  • Spray Detailer
  • Liquid wax

1. Polish the Surface:

polish the surface of car

For buffing purposes, polish the surface. You can use a foam pad or electric buffer in this case. if you pick electric buffer then you have to be a bit careful with the device. You cannot overheat the surface while polishing with an electric buffer. It will damage the exterior of your car. Therefore, set the device at a lower rate of around 1200 to 1400 RPM. So, in this case, it is better to use a car polisher with a variable speed setting. Also, follow some tricks while polishing. Keep moving the electric polisher frequently around the surface so that it does not get overheated.

Now if you think of using a buffing pad then pick up a pad with a hundred percent wool. However, buffing requires some skill. If you are a newbie, you better practice before get to start with the main object. Also, when you are using a buffing pad do not use excess compounds. You may end up having a burnt surface.

2. Keep Buffing and Use Finishing Polish:

buffing the surface of vehicles

Keep buffing the surface until the scratches come off. You might see some swirls on the surface. Use a soft pad for removing them. Use a finishing polish to have a smooth finish. Nonetheless, make sure the buffer is always wet throughout the entire buffing process.

3. Wipe away the Buffed Spot and Inspect:

Use a spray detailer for clean the spots of vehicles

Use a spray detailer and clean away the spots. The spray will clean off the extra residues giving a clean finish. When you are done, inspect the whole surface to find if any spot is left mistakenly. If you find any missed spot then repeat the previous steps.

4. Apply Wax Coat:

Apply Wax Coat on buffing surface

Finally. It is time to apply a wax coat over the buffed surface. You can use liquid wax or quality paste. A wax coat adds a protection layer over the vehicle surface to make it more durable. Remember, regular waxing of the vehicle can hold on to the shininess of it.


Question: Can you dry sand clear coat?

Answer: Dry sanding your car’s clear coat is not a good idea at all. Instead, wet sand it to get an expected result. Wet sanding clear coat is already an aggressive process let alone dry sanding. Hence, you have to be careful with the process of wet sanding clear coat.

Question: Can you paint over sanded clear coat?

Answer: If you want to paint over a clear coat, you have to make sure first that the clear coat is sanded. If it is not sanded you cannot paint over it. So, you can surely paint over a sanded clear coat.

Question: Can you paint clear coat over clear coat?

Answer: It is not a wise idea to paint a clear coat over a clear coat. If you respray a clear coat after sanding the previous coat for adhesion. But it the newer coat will not really stick or lock-in. Instead, it will sit only on the edges. Also, it won’t be strong enough to hold on to the shining components. Consequently, the result will be a complete failure. So, you better not paint a clear coat over a clear coat.

Question: What grit sandpaper to remove clear coat?

Answer: For removing the clear coat, you need to start sanding with coarser-grit sandpaper first. Gradually, you need to end up sanding with finer-grit sandpaper. So, you can start with 400 to 600-grit sandpaper, and then finally you can go with 1500 to 2000-grit sandpaper.

Question: How long to wait before wet sanding clear coat?

Answer: Before wet sanding clear coat, first, let the coating set properly. Leave it for one day and let the coat settle at room temperature. 24 hours is enough to wait before wet sanding and then buffing clear coat.

Last Updated on July 4, 2022 by Rogers Weber

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