Sandersreview is audience-supported. When you buy through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission that we use for site maintenance. Learn more


How To Wet Sand a Car Before Painting

how to wet sand a car before painting
Written by Ben Myers
Last Update: January 2, 2023

Do you want to shine a surface like a glass? There is a process called wet sanding that, when applies appropriately, you will get the result you wanted. You can give your car a new look with new paint,  but before that, you have to wet sand the car for a smooth surface. That is why wet sanding is also known as color sanding. Wet sanding is a professional method used by many to create an outstanding paint finish to a car.

However, it is essential to know the “do and don’t” of wet sanding. In an automobile, the clear coat that has been used for protecting your car from ultraviolet rays is thinner than a dollar. Paint correction experts advised not to remove 25% of the main clear coat through its lifetime. That’s why the idea of wet sanding, freaks out most of the car owners.

After reading all this, a question can be rise into your brain that, if wet sanding is this much dangerous than why use this method? The answer is simple. Wet sanding is the most effective means to repair any paint defects or scratches. However, there are two ways, which you can trust to wet sand, you can hire a trained professional or become a moderate wet sander by yourself. Use either one but make sure that you or the professional using paint gauge to measure the clear coat level. If you decide to do the entire wet sanding and painting by yourselfn, you might need the advice that we will provide in the following segment.

How To Wet Sand a Car Before Painting – A Step by Step Guide

The Trappings That You Need for the Job

  • You will need a lot of time to finish the sanding, so take proper preparation before starting the sanding process
  • Sandpaper
  • Pair of microfiber cloths
  • A bucket full of water, spray bottle and liquid soap
  • Hand glaze product and an applier
  • A buffer tool, buffer foam pad and finishing pad
  • Good quality rubbing component

Analysis of Facts

Make a statement, what do you want? If you want a large scale, scratch removal then you need to use 1200 or 1500 grade sandpaper. These sandpapers are highly capable of blurring the tiny paint scratches. For a car that has many small scratches and dull paint job, this one might do the job.

On the other hand, if you want to turn over a well-maintained car into a super bright, stylish vehicle than you have to use 2000 or 3000-grade sandpaper. Simple, if your task is to wet sand, an old car that has multiple bruises then 1200 to 1500 sandpaper will be best to use. However, if you want to give a new a look or paint to your slightly damaged car, you should use 2000 or 3000 sandpaper. In 1921, a kind of sandpaper invented with a mix of silicon carbide and waterproof adhesive called wet dry sandpaper. These types of sandpapers are suitable for automobile wet sanding. It is better sandpaper for metal applications as well. There is also a new device created for wet sanding. It’s a sanding disc that rotates and does the wet sanding by itself, no hard work needed; however, this tool is used by professionals only.

Wet Sanding Process

Now, it is time to learn the main part of wet sanding. Keep your concentration fix on this; otherwise, you will miss out valuable information about wet sanding. Cut a piece of sandpaper into half from the middle. You have to bring a bucket full of water and a liquid soap. The halves of the sandpaper that you cut from the main piece soak it into the bucket and let it remain there for five minutes. After that, wrap the sandpaper with the squeezer for proper grip. If you cut the paper precisely, it will wrap around the squeegee in three perfect folds. First sand the test area of your metal piece to get the info that the sanding is going ok or not, if everything seems all right, start sliding the squeegee in the surface in a rhythmic pattern. When it is visible that the sanding is going smoothly without the paint coming off and making the water tinted, you and your sandpaper are ready for the job.

Wet Sanding Process

Repeat this whole process on the car and do not over the slide in one place, because it will scrap your pain coating. Try to avoid situations where you cannot polish with the buffer, like edges of the car, plastic or rubber trims and door handles. Splash clean water on the car, after you finish the task.

Polishing & Hand Glaze

This is the fun part that will show you the expected result, which you work for day and night. Prepare you buffing machine and get on the job. Make sure that your buffing pad is clear from dust and properly attached to the buffers. Add rubbing compound and do the buffing in a smooth pattern like left right and then down. Follow this pattern in a square meter area in every turn, and after two-three turns, you will see the sparkling shine from the surface. At the end of this part, bring your silicon-based glaze, though there are other glaze compounds in the trade, I recommend this one. You have to rub the compound square by square to fade the marks of your previous buffing. When the liquid solution becomes dry, wash it away with water.

Polishing & Hand Glaze

Congratulations! You mastered the art of wet sanding. You are ready for implying the wet sanding method on any metal surface. Try to practice this in another old metal surface before applying to your real car surface. It will help you to understand your qualification level to do the wet paper sanding on an actual metal surface like your car. you may visit and look for genuine reviews and information about the wet sand papers or other hardware on a trusted website.

About the author

Ben Myers

A Floor Sanding Expert

Good day! Ben talking to you, guys! I’m a flooring specialist with a masonry certification. Over the past five years, my professional activities have almost been confined to one very particular area, floor sanding. Sanding a floor and preparing it for renovation is fun when you see the floor feels real smooth under feet. I remain busy and overwhelmed with contracts, but that doesn’t spoil my enthusiasm to cooperate with my those among my neighbors who are in the same or similar profession. What I do sometimes makes a good story, and I love to share it all with you. See my posts on this website while you can!

Leave a Comment