Paint It Yourself

Paint It Yourself

You can’t just park your car out back and paint it… But you can! Don’t assume that the TouchUpDirect crew sells paint all day and then heads home with no color under their collective nails. We use our stuff, because we’re gearheads too.

Take this backyard sprayjob from a few months back: a high-mileage trail rig with failing factory clearcoat needing a respray of both the hood and roof. Now, it’s easy to match your original color (TUD will help find your correct factory match), but this is TUD Life, so it’s got to be interesting – we don’t do anything that isn’t. There had to be some way to mod the paint on this truck.

After experimenting with a few paint schemes, including a repop of World War 2 halftrack insignia, North Atlantic high-seas anti-submarine camo, and a clone of factory ‘80s Toyota stripes, we settled on another throwback: an old school FJ-style gel-coat white roof. Why? Less interior heat, no hassle with blending, and a retro-cred shout-out to ‘froading Toyotas of yore.

Painting like this is easy: TouchUpDirect can equip you with spray cans full of your choice of colors – several would be needed for a roof the size of a 4Runner – plus the necessary clearcoat. In our case, and because we work here, there were a few paint returns on the back shelf that needed using, one of which was a lush white from the gen-two Supra. To our pleasure, it was not a white-white, but one that had some grey and yellow in it, mimicking the natural white of the old FJ40, 43 and 45 roofs.

If there’s one thing to do right when automotive painting, it’s not the painting – it’s the prep. Following the rules when painting is a good idea: if you don’t clean, sand and reclean before masking the working surface, no amount of technique will make the color stick. We sanded, then sanded again, then cleaned and scraped and sanded some more. Because this roof was not going to be seen too often (and it was on a 250,000-mile 4Runner that’s seen its share of dents, rock attacks and tree gougings), we were going for perfect adhesion, not a perfect look, and so some of the sanding was done with a palm sander. The roof’s flat surface made this easier; however, it’s no substitute for hand-sanding on visible body panels. Our goal was for the paint to go on, stay on, protect the metal, cool the cabin, and look good at 10 feet.

To be frank, we got lucky: it would have been perfectly workable to rattle-can the whole roof (we will paint the hood that way), but we have a neighbor – a retired Green Beret; a man who knows how to get stuff done – who’d recently recreated a small-block Chevelle he’d owned in the ‘70s. In the process of shadetreeing this Chevelle, he learned to paint, and shot the car in his backyard to great effect.

The rules for making your backyard paintjob turn out are universal – it wasn’t the spray gun that made this job click. Buy good paint, do good prep and exact masking, understand the paint and the applicator, manage the clock, work out of the sun and on a day with no breeze (which is hard on a sunny SoCal day), and you too can paint quickly and correctly. All told, from parking the truck to pulling off the masking tape, it took six hours. When you follow the instructions, even big paintjobs can be easy.

Look for a full story on the steps we took to make this six-hour paintjob work right coming up in

Keep Wet!

Keep It Wet!

While we’re on the topic of simple ideas that make taking care of your paint a whole lot less irritating/obnoxious/ineffective, there’s one that we’re hoping you’ve already figured out: keep it wet. Yes! The very hose you use to rinse can defeat the scourge of water spots.

The constant-wet methodology is not a new idea. It is, however, somewhat politically incorrect, as it requires you to use some extra water. Look at you, sticking it to the man. Don’t be snookered by the water police and big-government propaganda telling you to save water by drinking from the sponge in the sink and watering your plants with the tears of unicorns. The extra water you’re going to use to spritz your prized Sonic Blue Mustang Cobra might be a gallon or two. Be honest with yourself – if you’re washing your car in the driveway without needing to fend off marauders or alien locusts, you probably live in a country with utilities capable of providing you an extra gallon or two of water.

By the way, is anyone interested in explaining what a Mustang Cobra is? Is it like a horseshoe crab, or some wild genetic creation born of a laboratory deep beneath FoMoCo’s Rogue plant?

You’ll note that some colors are prone to fast evaporation (darker paints), and therefore quicker water spotting. Colors (or lack thereof) like Wimbledon White and lightly pigmented yellows and beiges will absorb less sunlight, and not heat up as much. It’s that evaporation that’s the real problem, because it leaves the stuff in the water – chemicals, minerals, and other dissolved solids – on your paint when the water’s gone. That stuff is not at all inert, and combined with the moisture already present in the air and the environment your vehicle lives in, they can etch/burn/eat away at your finish. A good coat of wax or sealer can hold the damage caused by water spots at bay for a time, but they’re just another layer to be eaten away, and eventually, water spots will get to your paint.

Fear not: if you have water spots, companies like Mother’s Polish sell specific water-spot removers – usually a polish of some sort, sometimes sporting a light wax in the mix – and these are effective. However, the objective should be to avoid water spots occurring at all, thus the wonderfully inexpensive and easy trick of keeping the whole vehicle you’re washing wet until you’re ready to dry.

While we’re at it, do yourself a favor and try to do all car washing and drying in the shade. Slower evaporation, less pressure to hurry up while drying, less heat, more shelving.

A near constant state of wet is easy: keep the same hose and nozzle you use to rinse your vehicle handy, and whenever you wash a section and rinse it (because you’re always washing section-by-section, right?), give the rest of the car a quick spritz too. As we’ve described before, it’s the same easy flow of water you’ve used on the rest of the car. We’re not blasting barnacles off the S.S. Minnow: there are lots of soft rubber parts, sensitive electronics and exposed lubricants on your car or truck, so you’d never use high-pressure to wash or rinse. Right?

Of all the easy rules for proper paint care, this one may be the easiest. It’s never too late to get a better habit: if you want to avoid extensive touch-up work (though TouchUpDirect is here for you if water spots get you covered), keep the paint wet until it’s time to dry.

Two-Bucket Method

“The Two-Bucket Method”

Two buckets. Do you have two buckets?

Let’s take it from the top: your car’s dirty. When you wash it, the dirt comes off. Where’s that dirt go? How does it get off? Sure, some heads to the ground in the pre-wash rinse, but not all. But what are you washing the car with? What’s that soapy sponge or wash mitt doing?

What you’re using to put soap on all that dirt is the same device that’s gently removing: you put that release agent (the soapy water) on the paint and take dirt off the same way. Soap on, dirt off. Every time that sponge comes away from the vehicle, it’s got much less soap in it, and much more dirt.

So, the question: where are you putting that dirt next? Back in the bucket full of soap? Back on the car?

Your automobile’s paint is not a thick layer of armor. In a sense, cars have it backward – the metal is under the paint. Shouldn’t it be the other way? Unless you live in post-apocalypse Chicago, a durable metal shell on your car (or remote-operated .50-cals) is not nearly as appealing as a pretty coat of Lobster Red Metallic, which is why most vehicles have paint on ‘em: it looks better. Thank goodness, the paint-lovin’ goons at TouchUpDirect love your paint too, and we’re here to help.

The two-bucket method doesn’t even require two buckets. A bucket and a plastic office garbage can, a bucket and a pot (don’t tell your wife), or a bucket and a kitty-litter jug with its head cut off. If it can hold clean water and is easily emptied and refilled a few times, it’ll do as Bucket #2.

Point is, when you lift your now-less-soapy wash mitt from the vehicle you’re washing, put an additional step into the process: before you dunk that mitt in the soapy water bucket again, swish and rinse it in the clean water bucket. Yup! This is the Two-Bucket Method, one of TUD Life’s Recommended Good Car Washing Habits. You’re welcome.

You’re right – the clean water bucket won’t stay so for long, but that’s to your garden’s benefit. That’s why the bushes next to the TUD Life driveway look so happy. Dump and fill Bucket #2 a few times. Admit it: you’re picturing the bottom of your soap bucket from the last time you washed your Mustaro – that water wasn’t pretty, was it? That water was what with which you were wiping your W30. Whoops.

Junkyards are full of typewriters and VCRs and buggy whips and one-bucket methods: congrats, you’ve evolved. Don’t feel worse than you should. Plenty of good folks don’t use the two-bucket method. So long as you use it now that you know it, you’ve taken a better technique as your own.

Program Note: you’re always going to find a scratch or two when you wash your truck/car/motorcycle/tractor. Having a TouchUpDirect touch up paint kit on the shelf means you can chase those nicks before they turn into something the neighbors will discuss in hushed tones over crullers and tea. Find your color code and give us a call: we’re not from the government, and we’re here to help.

Paint Care, Dummy!

Paint Care, Dummy!

Confession time: you’ve caught yourself walking past your car, ogling the damn thing. Do you like what you see? Do you get to brag, or apologize? Are you admiring the paint or hating yourself for not taking care of it?

If you’re the dude (or dudette) who smiles with a big fat grin after regarding your reflection in the paint, congrats. You have taken care of it. You did the washing, the waxing, the touch up paint, the buff-out… You did the work. If you’re the guy who looks at the hood of your car (or truck, or the tank of your bike) and feel a little ashamed, let’s fix that. We don’t want you to be a paint-care dummy.

Because you can’t take care of paint that’s not there, start with touch up paint (of course!). Got a chip in the bumper? It’s a one-day job to touch-it up to the point that you forget it was there. Rinse, repeat. Then there’s a regular wash habit: have one. Things like wax and advanced detailing are nice, but at the very least, you should get yourself cleaning consistently – keep your ride looking like you care.

There are plenty of good car wash habits – take a look at Mother’s detailing guide, or Griot’s – but that’s a LOT. Start simple: how about a few “I wish I’d thought of that” tips from the TUD Life crew that make car washing so much better (and help you look damn good).

  1. The Two-Bucket Method. So obvious, it’s silly. Why would you rinse a sponge or wash mitt full of dirt in a bucket full of clean, soapy water? Get a second bucket, put some water in it, and always rinse in that one. Rinse the rinse bucket a few times in the process.
  2. Keep the Car Wet. While you’re working in one area, don’t let the other side dry off and make water spots. Water spots are a direct attack on your paint. We hate water spots, even if they help us sell touch up paint. Keep spritzing the whole vehicle until it’s time to dry the whole vehicle.
  3. Pre-Treat the Crud. If you got insects, road tar and other stuck-ons on the front end, wet the offended area, then pour a little car soap in your hand and dab it generously on the bug graveyard. Let that sit to penetrate, then wash the area like you’d wash the rest of the car.
  4. Speaking of, Use Car Soap. Don’t you dare use dish soap to wash your car. Just never.
  5. Start High. (NOT a joke about a Colorado resident washing a rusty Subaru…) Start soaping and washing at the top of your vehicle. There’s usually less dirt, and water usually runs downhill. This way, you’re not rubbing a sponge full of crud from the lower half of the car on the rest of it.
  6. Dry, Then Dry Again. The first point of drying is to get as much water off as possible. Absorbent 100% cotton or waffle-weave towels do a good job, but you’re always going to miss some. Compressed air and microfiber towels with some detailer can re-dry those misses later.
  7. Try Clay. It’s one of our favorite tricks for automotive paint. Buy a good name-brand clay bar, then use it per the instructions (though we’ve had luck with clay and water, most manufacturers recommend using a detail spray with clay). Your paint will be as smooth as new. Smoother.

Don’t be discouraged: 80% of making your ride look right is the service you give the finish. Get out in the garage and do those basics: touch up paint and regular washing and waxing. Don’t be lazy, don’t be a dummy, and take care of your paint.

Ford E-Series

Jesus in a Smart Car: the Likely Vehicle and Color Choices of Thirteen Mega-Famous People

Alexander the Great – Hummer H2

Hummer H2

Alexander the Great was born in 356 BCE and he became King of Macedonia in 336. He led his armies on a series of conquering campaigns that took him across the Middle East and down into India. He loved cheese, horses, and the color green. Alexander’s army was undefeated and he only turned back toward Greece when his soldiers mutinied, demanding to go home. He turned from a life of perpetual conquest to a life of perpetual partying and ultimately drank himself to death.

As the most powerful man of his time Alexander could have any horse or chariot he desired. If he could pick from today’s selection of motor vehicles, though, he might appreciate the power and versatility of the Hummer. Drawing deeply on its military roots the hummer appeals to active, adventurous people with ambition and a zest for living life to its fullest.

Some of the famous celebrities today who drive Hummers include David Beckham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, LeBron James, Mike Tyson, and Dennis Rodman.

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Ultra-Low VOC Touch Up Paint

Why Ultra-Low VOC Touch Up Paint? The Eco-Friendly Option

If you’re concerned about the health of the planet, you likely know that some paint products can contain harsh chemicals that aren’t the most eco-friendly. Thankfully, there are more environmentally responsible products available. When looking for them, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for mentions of VOCs.

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What Your Vehicle’s Color Says About You

Several factors influence car buying decisions–budget, needs, and personal styling preferences. But certain paradigms or conventions are well-known throughout modern culture, such as the muscle cars like red Corvettes and Mustangs, the mysterious black SUVs used by government agents in the movies, and the popularity of black or white limousines. Many emergency vehicles use striking color schemes to help them stand out from ordinary citizen vehicles.

And your mood as well as your means will strongly influence the type and color of car you purchase. Maybe you bought that green sedan four years ago because you liked the economy it offered, but now you’re daydreaming about a red convertible with white wall tires.

Could it be that your children are grown and more independent, so you can think about yourself once again?

Maybe your color preference means more than just “I like this color”.

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Auto Body Repair Pristine Paint Job

9 Auto Body Repair Experts Share the Secret to Maintaining a Pristine Paint Job

You want your vehicle to stay in pristine condition, right?

Maintaining your car’s paint job is a huge part of keeping it looking brand-new.

Some might say it’s the most important part.

So what’s the absolute BEST way to keep your car’s paint all shiny and new?

If you’re like me, your car is your baby. You want to keep your baby clean, right?

I asked 9 experts from the fields of auto paint and body repair this question.

What they told me shocked me – I’ve been doing this all wrong for years!

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Ducati 1299 Panigale

Ducati 2015 Touch Up Paint Colors

If you own a 2015 Ducati motorcycle, we’ve got you covered as we just added a bunch of new 2015 colors of Ducati touch up paint to our catalog. You can find the list of the newly added touch up paint colors below. If you don’t find your color in there, stay tuned as we have more of them on the way!

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Yamaha 2015 Motorcycles

Touch Up Paint for Yamaha 2015 Motorcycles

If you own a 2015 Yamaha motorcycle, you’ll be glad to hear that we just added a bunch of new 2015 colors of Yamaha touch up paint to our catalog. This update concerns 2015 motorcycles and adds many new models to our catalog. You can find below a list of all the new touch up paint colors. Stay tuned as more colors are on their way!

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