Automotive Airbrushes & Equipment
After adequate surface preparation, you have two choices when it comes to automotive custom paint projects- to prime or not to prime...
If the design is simple, there's really no need to use a priming layer as it will require a lot more work and $$ on your end (you will have to color match the body color, prime the whole car body part and THEN begin your design). If you are simply looking to add in a design to your car and keep the same color scheme, then you don't need to go through all the extra work.
Choosing an airbrush for automotive painting is pretty forgiving as there isn't any one brush is better than another for this type of work. With that being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when making your decision that can save you some hassle and make the process easier. As a golden rule, make sure it is an airbrush that you can see yourself wielding for extended periods of time and one that will be comfortable for you.
The first element to consider is regarding the protective 'O-rings,' or seals that keep the airbrush insulated from the outside environment. Often times with automotive paint, solvent-based paints are used and these paints are harsher by material make-up on regular, rubber protective seals. You want to make sure that the seals and O-rings your brush is using are PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) seals, which are made to endure the most corrosive solvents. For reference, the Harder & Steenbeck features PTFE seals on every model in their line of Infinity series airbrushes, but in most cases they are rubber so make sure to check!
Another great idea is to look for 2-in-1 Kits for whatever airbrush you end up deciding on as it will give you versatility in your work, having access to a wider needle size for coverage and a finer needle for detail work.
This is a difficult topic to summarize or recommend as there are many different types of paints, for many different uses and results. Automotive paint projects can get very creative for a wide range of different possibilities ranging from pearlescent, metallic, color changing, the famous candy coat as well as many more options. With each of these types of projects, a different methodology is required...
Without diving too deep however, once you have prepared the surface of the auto body part you are working on you can begin applying your paint layers and coats until you have completed your design. The final step will be applying a clear coat as the final layer to protect the design and even out the layering of paint across the auto body part.
The main thing to keep in mind when choosing a compressor is that it has a tank. When working on such sensitive projects where mistakes could be costly, both in financial terms and in time, using a compressor with a tank will reduce any chance of pulsation and ensure a higher quality stroke, without interruption.
Using an airbrush is limited to a certain interval of usable PSI, so after a certain point- the motor size or strength really shouldn't be too impactful on your decision. Typically, (for any type of airbrushing) the range of usable pressure when using an airbrush is anywhere between 15-50 PSI. Based on our experience, we operate between 15-40 PSI when working on any kind of automotive paint jobs, so as long as your compressor meets this range- you should be fine.
Another option is if you plan on using multiple airbrushes, you would want to get a compressor with a larger tank capacity so that you can comfortably attach multiple brushes and still experience a consistent pressure without pulsation. Our recommendations for compressors that meet this profile and will also save you a few bucks are from the NO-NAME line, the Tooty being the more cost-friendly one (and delivering full usability for any project in mind) and if you wanted to get something nice you can take a look at the master blaster which offers more protection to the unit, airbrush holders and a slightly larger motor and tank capacity. These would both be considered medium-to-high capacity compressors.