Auto Body Dent Repair - Avoiding Sanding Mistakes To Ensure A Smooth Fix

If you notice several small dents along the exterior body of your vehicle, then you may be tempted to repair the damage yourself. If dents are relatively large, then it is best to work with an experienced auto body repair shop, or you may not retain the right curvature across the repair. However, you can try your hand at fixing smaller dents, which will require you to sand, fill, and paint the damage. If you have never completed these sorts of tasks before, then you may make some mistakes. To avoid sanding missteps, keep reading.

Mistake - Using Your Hand To Sand

If you have ever used a piece of sandpaper to remove a scratch or ding from a piece of wood, then you probably placed the paper in your hand before moving it across the wood's surface. While this may be the easiest way to get the paper in the groove of the vehicle dent as well, this will likely be a mistake, since sanding the metal body of your car is very different from sanding wood. Unfortunately, it can be easy to thin out the metal or substantially reduce the strength of the car's body by removing too much of the metal through sanding. This can happen if you use your hand to sand because your fingers will place uneven pressure on the metal and leave some parts thinner than others. In general, a piece of 18- or 22-gauge piece of stainless steel sheet metal is used to create the body of your car, and this type of metal is actually relatively thin. For example, 18-gauge sheet metal is about 1.27 millimeters thick.

You should only sand until you see the bare metal of the vehicle, and you should sand evenly across the dent to reduce thinning of the metal. Using a sanding block or a sponge instead of a regular piece of sandpaper can help you with this. These types of tools will also help you to retain a light touch so the paint alone is removed instead of a good portion of the steel. When you do buy your sanding block or sponge, make sure to consider the grit carefully. Auto body sanding materials come in a variety of grits that range from 36 to 2,000. Use the 36-grit sanding sponge only until the paint is released from the dent. Immediately move to 80-grit paper to prepare the damage for filler and to smooth the filler material. 

Mistake - Dry Sanding Only

It can be difficult to repair a dent with filler and paint without creating a visible and obvious area around the dent where the repair was made. In general, this happens when you layer paint and the clear coat over the already-existing paint. To reduce the obvious overlapping in the area, you will need to wet sand as you work instead of dry sanding alone. Wet sanding is completed after dry sanding, and the process smooths out the surface instead of removing material. Specifically, wet sanding levels out a surface in a controlled manner to remove scratches and uneven material slowly. 

If you want a smooth repair, then you will need to dry sand and then wet sand during each step of the repair process. You will need to wet sand after you place the filler, primer, paint, and clear coat. Purchase automotive wet-sandpaper sponges from your local automotive store. Pieces of fine-grit sandpaper with grades that exceed 1,000 are best. 

After you dry sand the repair, soak your sanding sponge or block in a small bowl of water. This will help to keep the paper from absorbing water during the sanding process. Place some water in a spray bottle, spritz the surface of the car where the primer or paint has been added. Gently sand the area until you no longer see any visible scratches. Also, use your hand and feel across the dent repair to make sure that you do not feel any raised edges around the dent. If you do, then continue to wet sand until the area feels smooth and level. 

If you need professional auto body repair help, contact a company like Rocky Mountain Collision of Sandy for assistance.