Best Ways to Clean Metal For Paint

The secret to a good paint job starts with how you prep the bare metal for coating. When restoring a car it may be difficult to get the metal clean so we decided to share our top ways to clean metal for paint.

  1. Media Blasting- The quickest and most efficient way to clean metal for primer or paint is to media blast it. Media blasting will remove all coatings and profile the bare metal to give your primer or paint to adhere to. Be careful blasting thin sheet metal at the heat from blasting could damage or warp the metal. For small jobs or to blast metal out of pits try using a Speed Blaster.
  2. Paint Prep Chemicals- PRE Paint Prep is our go-to chemical for doing a final clean of metal before paint. It will remove grease, oils, and residue left on a panel from handling. The nice thing about PRE is that it flashes off quickly and won’t leave a residue like more aggressive de-greasers.
  3. Contour SCT– This stripping tool is the best you’ll find for mechanical paint removal and bare metal prep. There’s a large selection of drums available for the SCT that take you from aggressive sandpaper for and paint stripping abrasive wheels all the way up to a buffing drum for polishing metal. Use the Contour SCT to clean metal and get it ready for primer and paint.
  4. Fast Etch- Sometimes it might be hard to get the metal really clean if it’s pitted or has surface rust from sitting. If you want to clean rust and etch the surface, leaving a phosphoric coating you can use Fast Etch. For metal with light surface rust or rust residue in pitted metal soak the metal in fast etch and wipe off the excess. The remaining Fast Etch will help you etch and remove the metal leaving a phosphoric coating that just needs to be scuffed before paint or primer.
  5. Wire Brushes- A good wire brush will remove a lot of flaky rust and can be the first step in cleaning metal. If you have an area that has bolts, rivets, sharp metal, etc you might not be able to using a stripping tool like an SCT. A cheap alternative is to chuck up a set of Cylindrical Wire Brushes in a drill or rotary tool and spin them over the rusty metal. These brushes are relatively flexible and allow you to easily clean irregular surfaces with a standard drill.

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